If you’re getting bored with your phone’s lock screen, maybe it’s time to try another. This is Android after all, so you’re not locked in to what came with your device—there are a ton of options to put impressive images, better notification controls, and a steady stream of news and updates right in front of you.
There are more lock screen replacements in the Play Store than you can count, but the following four are among the best. They combine great design and helpful features that go beyond the stock offering from Android and handset makers.
One word of advice: be sure you turn off system lock in your phone’s settings menu. Otherwise you may have to unlock your phone twice, as it will still show the default lock screen after you unlock your custom lockscreen.
Bing it out with Picturesque Lock Screen
OK, you’re probably not dying for one-touch access to Bing on your lockscreen, but there are many other cool features that make the Picturesque Lock Screen a good choice. It’s the latest project from Microsoft’s Garage team, which dabbles with Android apps and various other projects and games.
It puts Bing’s best feature on your lock screen, the gorgeous homepage that displays a different nature or architecture photo every day. If you don’t like the day’s selection, just shake your phone for a new one. Swipe to the right to save the image to your phone or make it your wallpaper.
Along with the good-looking images there is quick access to your favorite apps and a steady diet of new information. You can pin select apps to the screen and launch them directly by touching their icon.
There are also two other screens: one features news and sports updates (courtesy of Bing, of course) and the other gives quick access to Bluetooth, WiFi, and other settings.
Picturesque is the second Android lock screen to roll out of the Microsoft Garage, which also released Next Lock Screen. While Next has a few more customization options, Picturesque is a better all-around experience.
Get that iOS look with CM Locker
If you’ve ever been envious of the svelte and clean look of the iOS lockscreen, then here’s your chance to get it on your Android phone.
CM Locker brings that super-thin font and translucence, complete with a slide-up quick settings menu—something we think Android should steal from iOS. You can quickly launch the calculator, turn on airplane mode, or turn off WiFi.
In fact, launching the camera performs just like the iPhone: you swipe up on the camera icon to take a quick photo.
CM Locker’s most elegant feature is how it performs music playback. When you’re playing a song from any of your music apps you’ll see a record player with the the album art in the middle of the mock record.
CM Locker also has several calming, zen-like wallpaper choices. You can also add one of your own photos to the lock screen if that’s your preference.
Stay in the know with Locket
Locket is for news hounds who like to scroll through the latest headlines. You get to select what kinds of stories you want to read about, pulling from genres such as news, business, health, sports, or pop culture.
When you hit the power button, you’ll get a headline and large image for each story. Swipe through them until you find one you want to read.
A teal circle in the lower middle of the screen is the hub for interaction with Locket. Once you touch and hold it, you can swipe left to read the article or right to unlock the phone. A few other buttons let you dive directly into the camera, favorite the story for later reading, or share it through social networks.
Locket isn't a good choice for those who want a bunch of customization options to enable quick app launching or interaction with notifications. But it’s great for those moments when you want to browse through some new content instead of getting lost in another Android game.
Echo Notification is for the minimalist in you
Maybe you still want all those pings and updates but flavored with a few drops of Zen calm. Echo Notification Lockscreen is a perfect choice, as it has a ton of options for categorizing your notifications and snoozing alerts, all the while offering some impressive wallpaper choices.
If there are certain alerts you want to get right away you can tell Echo to awaken the screen when they arrive. Or perhaps you want to hide all text messages since you’re going into a meeting and don’t want your coworkers to see the details of any messages you get.
Apps that send you push notifications are categorized, so you can turn them on or off en masse. It would be great to have more customization here to better suit your preferences. Also, just like with emails apps Inbox or Mailbox, you can snooze notifications for later.
The only downside is Echo will bug you from time to time with ads. If you like it, go for the $5 in-app upgrade to eliminate them. Android piracy is still a problem, and paying developers for their work is one small thing you can do to help fix that.
This story, "The four best lock screens for your Android phone" was originally published by Greenbot.