Since the Next Lock Screen app debuted in October via the Microsoft Garage incubation apps initiative, Microsoft has released many updates to make the 4-star rated Android phone app even better for its users. Version 2.0, available Wednesday, introduces some of the most sought-after features including an integrated PIN and pattern lock feature. The latest update also provides better battery usage and performance, as well as support for Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin) language speakers. The app will be available worldwide.
“Currently, when people want to access their important information on their phones, they have to unlock their device and then spend time hunting for the right app to launch,” says Lawrence Ripsher, general manager of the My Life and Work team who developed the app. “The underlying promise of Next is to bring that information one step closer to the user, right when they need it, while keeping the user in control of what content is displayed.”
“This is the only lock screen that we know of that was designed from the ground up for busy working professionals,” Ripsher says. “That is a space Microsoft is very familiar with and one where we think we have a lot to offer our customers, irrespective of the platform they’re on.”
The app initially launched by allowing people to see their calendars at a glance, with some smart features such as one-swipe to join a conference call. Other features, also driven by user feedback, have been added to the app since its launch, including instant messaging notifications from Skype, Hangouts, Line, Whatsapp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger.
Ripsher also hinted at the future direction by saying that his team is “investing in platform capabilities to develop contextual awareness and notification ‘smarts’ which will surface in the Next Lock Screen.”
And if you’re surprised a Microsoft team makes apps for other platforms, Ripsher says, “We’ve always done this. We continue to invest in our own platforms as a priority, but we understand that our customers want to access our products and services through a variety of devices. Additionally, many users that use Android as a mobile device also use Windows on a PC or Notebook and we believe there are a lot of cross-device scenarios that can be enabled if we have software running on any device where our customers need it.”
So far, the reception to the app from the Android community has been positive.
“That’s probably been the one thing that’s surprised us – just how vibrant the community is around the app. We see a lot of comments from customers that they are happy to see Microsoft innovating in this space and this has caused them to get other Microsoft applications for their Android device,” Ripsher says. “We think this is a great first step in raising the awareness of the great software and services Microsoft has to offer in this space. We also think it speaks to small scale projects – doing small well – and rapid release. We’ve already released five updates to the store in the past four months. Every one of these releases has contained improvements based on direct customer feedback.”
Microsoft News Center Staff