It’s the first thing you see when you pick up your Android, and what it reverts back to as soon as you put it down. It’s the first line of defense against prying eyes and is usually sufficient to deter most nosy intruders from viewing private information on your phone. It’s something we see and deal with constantly, and yet few people think of sprucing it up and making it more useful. Maybe you didn’t even realize that you could.
Most of the time this is accomplished by using apps and widgets; but there might also be a few built-in options, depending on the model and version of your Android. Perhaps you could benefit from instant access to your camera or flashlight (if your device doesn’t already have this option), would like to have more control over notifications, or have a message you would like to display.
Whatever suits your lock screen fancy, we can show you how to do it. It could even do more to help that nosy person mind their own business, by adding more protection for your personal info.
Safeguard Your Stuff—No App Necessary
The types of lock screen options you can use to protect your privacy sometimes vary widely depending on the make, model, and version of your device. Many Androids running Lollipop allow you to set up Smart Lock, which lets you specify certain Trusted Places or Devices for the convenience of not having to use the lock screen.
The Trusted Faces option is also available on some devices, but can sometimes be bypassed using a photo, and isn’t always secure. Almost all Androids offer choices such as Pin, Pattern, and Password protection. Fingerprint authentication is becoming ever more common as well—not just on high-end models—which is nice since it helps make things a little more secure without sacrificing ease of use.
You may find your device’s specific options by going to Settings > Personal > Security > Screen Lock, or possibly Lock screen under My Device. Keep in mind that Pattern and Pin are susceptible to smudge attacks where someone can simply look at your fingerprint oil smudges to uncover your login information.
Password is a better option because it’s tougher to crack, as long as you make it strong by not using dictionary words, information that’s easy to guess, etc. Within Settings > Security, some Androids allow you to add a message to your lock screen. For instance, you can include information on how you can be contacted if someone wants to return your lost phone. Do try to keep security in mind at all times when creating your custom lock screen.
Simple, Stylish, & Convenient: Hi Locker – Your lock screen
One of the easiest ways to tweak your lock screen is by installing an app. A cool example is Hi Locker. The style of this lock screen app is reminiscent of CyanogenMod, with its simple yet effective design. Press and swipe to be instantly transported to your favorite apps from the lock screen.
During setup, the app will ask you to enter your name, which will show up in a greeting on your new lock screen. It will also ask you to choose between three versions: iOS, Classic, and Lollipop. To see notifications on your lock screen, you will need to grant the app Notification Access. Once you have completed basic setup, you can then explore the dedicated calendar screen, customize the font, and admire your gorgeous new wallpaper.
Download: Hi Locker
More Complex, But With More Options: C Locker (Widget L)
C Locker Free provides not only widgets for your lock screen, but also app shortcuts, a security selfie (to take a picture of the culprit who exceeds too many Pin/Pattern attempts), and three profile options. So, if you typically don’t have time to dig through your phone for information you could access at a glance (because it can sometimes feel like an all-out excavation) or you don’t want to dial while you’re driving, or you simply want more control over your lock screen, C Locker is a great app to download. The Pro version will set you back $2.99, but if you want as many customization options as possible, it will be well worth it. This version supports all widgets.
Most types of notifications are available on the paid version. It comes with volume rocker control (i.e. skip to the next track using the volume button when you are playing music). Set up RSS feeds, keep tabs on battery life, and enjoy some gestures. You will be in charge of the appearance of your lock screen as well as its behavior.
Download: C Locker (Free)
Download: C Locker (Paid)
Settings, Modules, and Apps: Sounds and Notifications
Do you have Marshmallow 6.0? Then you don’t necessarily have to download an app when creating your custom lock screen. It comes with several options to tweak notifications and sound. If you need more control over which alerts show on the lock screen, you can change this setting under When the device is locked. Certain manufacturers allow this or similar types of changes even if you don’t have 6.0, like Samsung.
If your Android is rooted, be sure to check out a little Xposed module called Lock Screen Tweakbox. This is useful for some small but fun changes, including making your phone scream if the wrong Pin, Password, or Pattern is used. You could also download an app like NiLS Lock Screen Notifications, which layers on top of your existing lock screen to give you the ability to direct reply from your notifications—as long as you are running 4.0 and above. It also comes with privacy options that can be used to hide sensitive information.
Download: Xposed Installer from Xposed Website (Note the separate link for Lollipop & Marshmallow)
Download: NiLS lock screen Notifications
Informative and Useful: Next Lock Screen
Next lock screen strives to be the ultimate lock screen for busy professionals, and it does a decent job of it. It will show you your daily schedule and notifications with just a tap, and lets you dispense with fumbling through Pins, Passwords, and menus before you can use your favorite apps. It also learns what type of information and apps you might want to see as you use your phone. Next lock screen then offers these apps based on your location.
Speaking of locations, Next lock screen allows you to set up three different versions of your lock screen for On the Go, At Home, and At Work. You can easily call or text your clients or other contacts from your lock screen, as well as access Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Touch the Bing icon in the upper left corner to change your wallpaper. Check the weather, play music, and more.
Download: Next lock screen
Theme Master: GO Locker
If it’s a unique lock screen you are after, look no further than GO Locker. The app comes with thousands of themes, both paid and free. It splits your lock screen into three sections, each with its own functionality. GO Locker developers pride themselves in the app’s stability, security, and compatibility.
Features include a main lock screen that displays the date, alarms, time, weather, and battery/charge status. App shortcuts/widget options/settings that include a brief weather synopsis, brightness, more themes, adjustments to boost performance, mobile data, Bluetooth, sound, and flashlight are located, just swipe to the left of the main lock screen. For privacy, you can lock the home button to prevent waking the screen. Finally, there is a third page of the lock screen that is wholly devoted to the weather.
Download: GO Locker – theme & wallpaper
Clean and Useful: AcDisplay
Lock screen widgets were introduced back in Android 4.2, but Google felt like they never really caught on, so Google canned them. And it’s true that having a busy lock screen can be annoying, even a threat to your privacy. If you slap on a large shortcut to your texts and the wrong person gets a hold of it, well, you can imagine. That’s why sometimes minimal is better.
You’ll still want to use caution when selecting the notifications to display on your lock screen, as AcDisplay will show their content when tapped. But you probably aren’t going to feel like your lock screen is cluttered or unwieldy. Tap one more time and AcDisplay will transport you directly to that app. Active Mode wakes your Android automatically so that you will see your notifications as soon as they arrive.
Smart and Easy Access to What’s Relevant: Defumblr
It seems like I always hit the number above the one I intend to when I try to enter my Pin on the lock screen. Then, once inside, it can take me a minute to fumble for the app or setting I’m looking for—especially if I am distracted or in a hurry.
This app tries to practically read your mind and hand you access to these things on a silver platter, or at least your lock screen. It learns from your use to present you the resources that you will find most useful.
You still have the option to use a password protected security lock, however. Widgets can be customized so that you have much more control over how the screen looks and behaves.
For productivity, the app comes with a To-Do list and calendar and consolidates your emails, IMs, and text messages into one interface. Both the calendar and the app’s alarm can be synced with those of the Android system.
Download: Defumblr Smart Lock Screen
With the exception of the Xposed module, your Android doesn’t even have to be rooted to create your custom lock screen. Not interested in any of these apps listed? There are tons more on Google Play; too many to explore in detail here.
Which lock screen customization method do you like best?