Software

Five free apps for customizing your lock screen

Your lock screen doesn't have to be just a dull gatekeeper protecting your device. Make it more appealing -- and functional -- with one of these apps.

Mobile device lock screens are easy to take for granted. They help secure your device — but depending on what type of device you have, they might not do much else. However, there are apps on nearly every mobile platform that let you customize your lock screen. Some apps add a bit of flair, while others add much more.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: FancyLock

FancyLock (Figure A) is a free app for customizing your lock screen. It lets you select a custom background and choose from several available lock screen themes. Themes cover everything from hot pink to basketball. The only real downside to this app is that it includes in-app purchases.

Figure A

Figure A

FancyLock is free for iOS.

2: Unique Locks Free

Unique Locks Free (Figure B) is similar to FancyLock. It lets you pick a background and choose from a number of themes. But these themes tend to be more photorealistic than the ones available for FancyLock. They include things such as lightning and some themes that remind me of disco and Halloween. Like FancyLock, this app also has in-app purchases.

Figure B

Figure B

Unique Locks Free is for free for iOS.

3: Fireflies Lockscreen

Fireflies Lockscreen (Figure C) is a lock screen utility for Android devices. This app's real strength lies in its ability to display notifications, such as unread messages, unread mail, and missed calls. However, plenty of other lock screen utilities can do that. What really got my attention about this app was the cool firefly (or lightning bug, as we call them in the south) animation that appears while the lock screen is displayed. Maybe I'm a sucker for pretty flashing lights, but I like this lock screen app because it reminds me of all the hot summer nights that my wife and I have spent on our screened porch watching the fireflies until the wee hours.

Figure C

Figure C

Fireflies Lockscreen is free for Android.

4: Cover Lock Screen

Cover Lock Screen (Figure D) is still in beta, but the idea behind it is cool enough that I wanted to include it anyway. This tool displays a series of apps that are based on your location. For instance, you might want to see business apps while you are at work and games or entertainment apps when you're home. The app shortcuts are displayed directly on the lock screen and you can peek into the apps or jump between apps from your lock screen.

Figure D

Figure D

Cover Lock Screen is free for Android.

5: Lock Manager Free

Lock Manager Free (Figure E) is an app for customizing the Windows Phone lock screen — and it takes lock screen notifications to the next level. You can configure the app to display information about the weather, your calendar, your reminders, and your battery on the lock screen. Like most other lock screen utilities, you can also pick a custom background to be displayed.

Figure E

Figure E

Lock Manager Free is free for Windows Phone.

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