Cover is a new lock screen alternative, still in development, which is now available as a public beta via the Google Play app store. The “beta” label is an indication that the app is still in development and may still have some bugs, but should generally work. If you secure your phone with a passcode and are concerned about your phone’s security, I recommend not installing Cover until a final version is released.
Cover displays a different set of app icons on the lock screen depending on the phone’s location. It shows one set of app icons when you are home, another when you are at work, another when you are in the car, and one more set when you are out, or in other words, anywhere other than at home, work, or in you car.
One thing that helps Cover determine whether the phone is at home or at work is that you specify the wireless LAN you connect the phone to while at these locations. If you don’t have a WLAN at either site, Cover will attempt to use the location features based on the cellular network, but so far in my experience it is not very successful at doing so.
So far Cover is having a hard time detecting that I am in my car. The settings for the car location include an option for Bluetooth-based detection, but unlike the WLAN options for home and work, it does not provide a way to specify the Bluetooth device one connects to while in a car.
My phones connect to the media center in my GMC Terrain that the phone is paired with, so it should be a simple matter for Cover to identify all the devices the phone is paired with and allow me to specify the one that is my car, but such an option is not available. As a fall back Cover is supposed to use movement-based detection, but that also doesn’t seem to work. So far, every time I check the phone while in my car, Cover thinks I am out. In short, I don’t think the Car option works at the moment. (Remember, Cover is in beta.)
Another feature of Cover is the ability to “peek” at content in the apps that appear on your lock screen. Tap and hold on the icon of the app you want to peek at and then slide to the right to reveal the information. If you keep sliding all the way to the right you will open the app.
Many people secure their phones with a passcode, which you are required to enter prior to opening the phone and accessing any content. If you have a passcode on your phone and it is locked, you can slide an app icon to the right, to enter the unlock code and then access the app. You will not be able to “peek” at content until after the phone is unlocked. In this, Cover is similar to other launchers that provide quick access to apps from the lock screen.
Cover recommends configuring the phone so that if you turn it off and then back on again within a set period of time, you do not need to re-enter a passcode. Access the phone settings, tap Security, and then tap the Lock Phone After option. I can configure my phone to either lock immediately, or lock after 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes, and I have my phone configured to lock after 5 minutes.
In my experience, Cover has unpredictable behavior in how it treats lock screen passcodes. In some situations Cover seems to keep the phone unlocked well beyond the time specified, for example I have had instances where I have picked up my phone in the morning after it has been charging all night and find it unlocked. If you worry about someone accessing your phone, you may not want to install Cover until its final version is released.
Ironically, the behavior I just described provides an idea for a feature I would love to see in Cover, or with another lock screen app. If I am connected to my home WLAN (and therefore I am confident that I am home), or if I am in my car and connected to its Bluetooth, I would like the phone to stay unlocked after I enter the passcode for the first time in these locations.
The feature I am thinking of is the same as the Moto X’s trusted device, which allows you to specify a trusted Bluetooth device that if it is connected to the phone does not lock. You can even buy a device called the Moto X Skip that you can wear, but for my purposes a home WLAN or a named Bluetooth device connection are sufficient.
Cover displays a different wallpaper for each location. It provides a pre-determined set of wallpaper or you can select a picture from a photo source on your device. Another really handy feature is that if you flip the phone to landscape a camera icon pops up on the top right that you can tap to go right into the camera app.
A couple of things I would like to see added to Cover is for it to be able to display the current weather at the phone’s location, perhaps an icon to indicate the condition with the temperature in the middle, and an option to display owner information. I put in the owner information on my phones a home phone number so that if the phone is found by someone they can call me.
Cover shows promise as an attractive lock screen alternative. If they add the “trusted device” feature I described, I would be happily buy the app, although I think it has enough features to make it very worthwhile. You will find Cover in the Google Play app store.