New Ideas for the Lockscreen

Verge forums user brentcas has some interesting ideas for how Apple could improve the iOS lockscreen. Sure the lockscreen does a pretty good job at what it does, but as Brent points out: “iOS is boring. It’s unconnected. It isn’t flexible. It’s slow.” so he worked out some ideas for how he would make the lockscreen better.

As much as I’d like to (because it’s a great post), I’ll refrain from just copying and pasting the entire thing here. The entire post is a great read, so do make time to read and digest it all—Rethinking the Lockscreen—but I’ve pulled the main ideas from Brent’s post here for you.

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First off, Brent acknowledges that the lockscreen isn’t all bad. I wouldn’t even say it’s broken. That’s not to day it couldn’t use a refresh. Brent starts like this:

What isn’t very straightforward is the lockscreen. I set out to make the lockscreen flexible and open to the apps on your device, without throwing everything that works really well out the window.

And shows the basic layout of the lockscreen right now (wow, holy Golden Ratio Batman!):

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Starting from the premise that the lockscreen could do a lot more (and the current notifications are a good start), Brent proposes “Lockscreen Cards”:

The first new feature of the lockscreen is something I call “Lockscreen Cards.” Basically, they’re little informative slates that are connected to an app. You can slide between the cards in the same way that you slide between homescreen pages…

So way the weather, or who is calling you, or (and I love this one) directions. How often have you had to unlock your phone while driving to get the next direction? In British Columbia and many other places, picking up your phone to use when driving is illegal. Sure it’s aimed at preventing texting and driving, etc, but if you’re lost and need your map, and the screen is locked…you’re in a pickle. Brent’s idea is for these cards to be customizable and slideable (don’t know if that’s a word, but I’m going with it) so you can quickly jump to the things you need.

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Next up is the quick access “grabber” he calls it. Right now it just works for the camera, but why couldn’t it work with other apps? Why couldn’t you be able to tap and hold to switch to a different app or have something other than the camera as the primary (though myself I’d keep the camera)?

Quick access to the camera was a great addition to the lockscreen in mid 2011, but I think that the idea could be taken further. The grabber should be able to open any app action that you want. So, first, what exactly is an “app action?” It’s basically anything that you do with an app. Update your status on Twitter, check-in on Foursquare, take a picture with Instagram, whatever. So you can customize your grabber to be one of those things.


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Great concepts here. Useful? Heck yeah. I think to remain useful we’d all have to decide what would be the best things for the grabber—and which ones wouldn’t be a privacy nightmare (like Facebook).

Finally, Brent thinks that the Notifications system needs to open up so that Skype, for example, could take over the screen like FaceTime or a call can.

Apps like Skype and Google+ should have just as much access to the lockscreen as the Phone or FaceTime apps. And to be clear, this wouldn’t lead to confusion from the user or a process that isn’t clean. In fact, users would be able to clearly understand that they are receiving a call rather than wondering why that little notification’s alert tone is going on for so long (“Oh that’s a call!”- confused user).

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Smart idea and could probably be integrated into the current Notifications preferences.

All of these have merit. I hope Apple is paying attention as well, because these are ideas that would truly put the user/customer first again in iOS.

What lockscreen tweaks would you make?

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