The lock screen is a much underrated and easily forgotten part of your Lumia experience. After all, you probably never look at it for more than a split-second before you swipe it up and get stuck into all the goodies that await inside.
Within the lock screen settings there are now advanced options for you to customise your notifications, set your background, and best of all, to let apps change your lock screen dynamically. Think of it as a giant live tile.
Even though it is still very early days, developers have already started exploiting the potential of the new lock screen on Windows Phone 8.
Here are five apps that positively unlock your lock screen.
Weather Flow (£1.49, or free to try)
We’ve been big fans of Weather Flow for a while now and even spoke to its developer, Gergely Orosz, back in August.
Gergely’s apps are characterised by beautiful designs and your lock screen will certainly benefit from the latest incarnation of Weather Flow.
In many ways, the weather is an ideal subject for the lock screen: It is useful information that most of us keep an eye on regularly, it changes fairly frequently (OK, some places more often than others) and the changes can be illustrated with great images.
The Weather Flow lock screen can be customised too. You can choose from different lock screen styles, what information you want displayed and decide if you’d prefer an illustration of the current weather or a custom background image.
Hello Friends (£0.79p or free to try)
Hello Friends is a super simple, yet genius idea and it is currently the lock screen on my Nokia Lumia 820.
This app takes the photos of your contacts and shuffles them to create a mosaic – you can choose between small squares, large squares or a mix. The mosaic then becomes your lock screen background image.
That’s not all though – the mosaic shuffles itself, so that you’ll be greeted by a different group of friends every half an hour. It’s a subtle way of giving you a new lock screen throughout the day.
A detail that I really love is how the background image slowly fades to black as it comes towards the bottom of the screen – this means it is always easy to spot your notification icons.
Unsurprisingly, photo apps are ripe for the lock screen treatment. Photostream, formerly known as Flickr Live Wallpaper, is among the best of the bunch.
First you need to set up your photo sources. You can choose from a variety of Flickr options, such as the Interesting Photos group, your own Flickr photos, searching by keyword and also your camera roll.
When you’ve made your choice, the photos change periodically (you can change how often you want it to change and for changing over WiFi only) on your lock screen. What could be simpler?
Other interesting photo lock screen apps are Locksider, which boasts curated images in formats that will always look good on your screen and the niche but stunning Astronomy Lock Screen – a daily download of the best images from space.
At Countdown (free)
Got an important date coming up, like a wedding or going on a holiday? This app will tell you how many days, hours and minutes you’ve got left before the big day.
You can set the custom message, set the countdown date and then choose an image from your Picture Hub as the background.
As well as the lock screen, you can also pin a Live Tile to your start screen both of which, of course, countdown.
It’s not just the independent developers but the big boys are getting in on the lock screen action too.
CNN was quick out of the blocks with its app for Windows Phone 8 and has great live tiles (the wide one works really well) and a lock screen option.
Within the app’s settings you turn on the ‘lock screen updates’ and you’ll get a topical image that is updated as your background image.
We are sure that there are more and more apps being released all the time with great lock screen features. Have you been using any good ones? Let us know in the comments below.