One of the things I have enjoyed over the last few years as an Android user has been the level of customization that is available. If you want your interface changed it's as easy as downloading a new launcher and off you go. The one area for me that is toughest to customize to my liking has been the lock screen – primarily because you want things to be accessible but if you throw too much on your screen it's overkill. When I read about Cover Lock Screen on the Verge I was intrigued not only because of its simplicity but also because the app evolves to your liking with minimal input due to its behavioral algorithm. Cover Lock Screen initially launched as an invite-only app but is now available for everyone which is how I got to review it. Is it for you? Read on and find out.
What is it?
Cover replaces your default lock screen with one that not only adapts based on location but that also has your most utilized apps available at the swipe of an icon. Cover uses WiFi to determine home and office profiles and your phone's accelerometer or bluetooth to determine if you are in your car.
What does it do?
You get in your car and pair it with your phone and it switches to car mode with GPS, dialer and music at the ready. When you get to your office it automatically switches to your email, calendar, and in my case Skype. There is even a profile for when you are out running errands. All profiles can be customized to allow Cover Lock Screen to build a more complete user profile and experience right down to your wallpaper and ringer volume.
What's wrong with it?
The only con I have noticed is that is definitely does impact battery life. I currently am using the Note III which has a long-lasting battery, but for those with devices that have “decent” battery life your results will vary. I have noticed battery usage has improved with recent updates as you can see below.
Why do you/don't you need it?
Cover is definitely not for everyone, since I know a lot of power users like more widgets on their lock screens with more information at the ready versus the more streamlined interface offered by Cover. I like using NFC tags with my devices and for me, Cover Lock Screen steps in when I forget to touch the tag in my office and gives me access to apps I constantly use throughout the day without even having to unlock my phone which is a nice perk.
Privacy advocates may frown on the app collecting your day-to-day data and app habits but every app collects something at this point so it's all about personal preference. Cover CEO Todd Jackson stated in the Verge piece that all data sent to and from your phone to Cover’s servers is encrypted, and users have the option to provide their email address or not. If you do provide Cover with your email address, the app will sync across multiple devices, but opting out of giving up your information doesn’t restrict any features on a single device.
If you use PIN codes or patterns you can still use the Cover Lock Screen which is another nice touch. Cover did a great job showing it in action with this video.
I have been using Cover Lock Screen since it became available to the public and it has learned my habits quite well with all my most utilized apps available at a glance. Do I need to have the weather on my lock screen 24/7? No! What I do need is access to my apps without digging through my folders or my app menus whether I am home, on the road or in my office which where this app shines.
The photos in this gallery are from my Note III and are not sample images from the app page.