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Long awaited Lock screen app for Windows Phone 8.1 almost ready for public beta

During the Microsoft Build 2014 conference in May, one of the hidden features of Windows Phone 8.1 announced is the Lock screen app, made in partnership with developer Rudy Huyn. The secret project was kept at the highest levels as many on the Windows Phone team were even unaware of its existence. The question though for many is When can we have it?

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore took to Twitter today to alleviate concerns. The Lock screen app (yes, it is a separate download, not built into the OS) is evidently nearing completion, at least far enough along to earn beta status.

From Belfiore's Tweet:

"Lockscreen app- sorry for being quiet. The beta (English, 1gb+) is ALMOST here, perhaps a week. We hit a few snags & added a feature."

A few things to note in that Tweet is that evidently the app is only for English devices with 1 GB or more RAM. Support for 512 MB device is on the roadmap though Belfiore commented back in June that making app fast and staying in memory, was their top priority.

The good news though is the app is almost ready for those with Windows Phone 8.1 to try out. We will, of course, keep you posted on any further developments.

Source: @JoeBelfiore

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Reader comments

Long awaited Lock screen app for Windows Phone 8.1 almost ready for public beta

490 Comments

I hope Belfiore is in the 18.000...
Really an incompetent...In my opinion many of WP marketing problems comes from him.
Even worse, Rudy is as an hero for us, but he is considered "arrogant" from other devs because it seems he copied someone else code, or something like that...
No good for WP if Ms hurts the developer community...No good at all, and I think we have to thank Belfiore for this too :/

Except that this system app is an "app" again and not part of the kernel/OS. So it will be laggy and buggy the same way they "optimized" the Xbox music and video app.
...
Oh excuse me.
They still are not working properly and are still far worse that on WP 8 (and please don't give me the 'beta' line, the shipped devices have the same build).
...
How can you optimize something that will not work properly if it is not part of the system? Mind my words: This will not be good.

I don't quite understand what's going on here: Microsoft hired Ruy Huyn to make an app for WP8.1 that allows you to customize the lock screen? Rudy is amazing and I'm so glad he's on Team WP, but I find it quite troubling that the largest software company in the world doesnt' have the internal resources to make a basic app for their own platform. That's bizarre. Why would they outsource that?

No dummy they wanted to show that they partner with the development community to produce a quality apps for WP. Come on why does everything have to have a negative slant? Cup half full not half empty.....

Have you ever heard of: If it ain't broke, don't fix it??
M$ had a perfectly working core app (and Zune back, in WP7) with nice features, ok tag reading and a VERY COOL live tile.

Please explain how the cup can be half full, except with s***??
And my point is/was: An app that is not a core/kernel app can not get the performance that it could get if it were.
They can hire whom ever they want, mind my words: It will not work !

it was broke, it had all kinds of problems, just because you didnt have them doesnt mean they didnt exist.. do you remember the famous  music duplicating bug?

 

and yes, a non system app can work jsut as well as a system app, there is nothing but xbox music (which is an alpha state app) that suggests this. you saying that glance screen is laggy? how about glance screen backgrounds? what about ANY of the settings and apps nokia added to WP? your bitchign about bad code, not system vs external apps..

Ahm, I am talking about the music hub - the one wich Microsoft ditched and told us that Xbox music will be the follow-up of. Ant that hub IS part of the kernel. And there was no duplicate music bug. I did NEVER use the Xbox music app back then because it was still crap then and never on par with the music hub. I don't give any crap about 'xbox' apps
In case you dint on know what I am bitching about you can still use it here -> http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=3faa2f9e-6b8d-440a-bb60-5dd76a5baec1 - but I also want the live tile back.

Yes, I know exactly what your talking about, go ahead and google the music duplication bug for WP8, it was a bug that microsoft attempted to fix for two GDR's and still couldnt fix it, that ALONE was reason enough to kill it in favor of a new app.

here I'll google search it for you: http://bit.ly/1sznFac

Man I miss the Hubs, all of them, they were very functional and my shortcuts to apps, and I used then all the time especially the photo and music hubs and no, app folders are not close to the same. They also very much differentiated WP in a good way.

The whole concept of hubs was part of what set Windows Phone apart. Windows 8 was following this with the ability to search within specific apps from one place. Your content... not locked away in individual apps - just content; your content at your fingertips.

That said, the new social hub takes it to the next level with ANY social app being being able to join in there.

Lock screen app looks great and I agree that using Rudy takes in some street cred.

My negative slant is how is keeping things a secret within your own department touted as a good thing? Seems to me that one hand not knowing what the other is doing has been a hallmark of MS, a problem that has affected products and services over time. Yes, its over thinking it since we're really just talking about a lock screen app... But still. Internally MS needs to COMMUNICATE to improve the experience across all products.

There are multiple possibilities:

1. Maybe they tried to hire Rudy but he wasn't interested so they contracted him instead.

2. They are throwing a bone to Rudy for bringing high quality, high profile (in the WP community, at least) apps to the platform.

3. As crazy as it sounds it is sometimes easier for organizations to pay a consultant to do work than it is to hire/dedicate an FTE.

4. This is a separate app and not part of the core OS, at least for now. This may not be a high priority. They could want to dedicate their internal resources to the core OS.

5. Or many other potential reasons that make sense to MS.

I think Microsoft is appreciating the Devs who has contributed so much in Windows Phone platform. So it is somekind of "reward" to many other Devs, imo.

That's not how it went. There are two parts to it. One is support for it in the system, which is an API that Microsoft built and will, in time, be public for any dev to use. The other side is the first app to use it while the API is still private, and that was built by Rudy. It's a way of Microsoft showing that they're embracing the community and that this is a feature that will soon be public.

I think the same, the answer is obvious, they don't have any great designer/developer in their squad. Maybe they should hire Rudy to fix the goddamned music player for God's sake, or any Nokia software guy for that matter

It's all about publicity... MS knows WP fans would be excited to see Rudy work on something official for the platform... MS is trying to appeal to the hardcore WP fans here who keep up with this kind of stuff,,, us❕ .... But, we complain❔

There are apps that have deeper access like glance background & I assume with the secrecy of this module well call it(app that installs to the system settings) I could assume its being made with the same tools that allow oems to do more ie. T-Mobile's uma

Yes, but let's not forget that JB said that tools will be added to the SDK so that other developers could make apps in the future.

Beta is unoptimized code... There's no reason to optimize your code while you are hunting for bugs and adding features rapidly.

Optimization comes in a much later stage in the development cycle.

Pushing out app-updates is easier than pushing out system-updates. This should be simple to understand.

"Optimization comes in a much later stage in the development cycle."

True, but not the whole story. Some optimization requirements should be kept in mind from the get-go, or else you might be rewriting quite huge chunks of your code.

As for it being a part of the kernel or not, did develop the OS, do you know what it takes to optimize the app the MS way? If not spare is the whining.

As for what is released ir not from an OS perspective, Firmware stupid. Haven't you learned anything from the communication to the community? the WP8.1 OS without firmware update means not released its a Preview release on your hardware until then. How hard is this to understand.

Yeah, cause adding some drivers obviously fixes an buggy app. Just like when u have engine troubles on your car. Switching out one of the doors wil most def. fix that problem for you! /facepalm
 

I don't think that's a fair comparison. The Files app is non native. Isn't it fast and snappy? These apps are made with WinRT and not Silverlight. Of course they would be optimized. That's why they are committed only for the 1 GB devices for the time being. Xbox apps are direct imports from their earlier WP8.0 versions which means they are still not migrated to the new runtime and hence not well optimized. Not that Silverlight apps always lag or are performance deficient but WinRT apps allow for the whole Universal app thingie and are better multitasked.

At first I was whatever about it but now I'm ready for something new and since Cyan might not be here anytime soon - I guess this will do for now.

+920 but highly doubt it. It would have been nice to use the touch 3D as the way to unlock phones without even touching it...

What if your password has a repeated digit? It can't autocorrect like it does with words-- that would be a huge security flaw.

If it goes in to beta next week, you'll probably have it available before 8.1 rolls out to legacy devices.

That's what I hate about WP... everything is an app, nothing is integrated in the OS. Grrr.... here in Italy we're going to see this feature work when it rain milk

Good point @Novron. But doing this it seems like the whole system is not properly clean. I mean, that's kinda mess with apps and and settings in the menus.

Multiple lock screen methods would be amazing. Imagine the different themes that could be implemented like a lock and key for example. Stuff that's never been done before on other smartphones.

I know ! i tried an app on my sister's nexus 7
it's funny how 50% open to apps then lock itself 
at least we are getting it from 1st party (MS) :)

I have a Moto G and you can put widgets across multiple lock screens, which is pretty neat, but apparently it using them doesn't stop the sceen time out. So as I'm scrolling throgh tweets the screen dims and shuts off, effectively making it pointless.

Cutting the fat and refocusing the company. It's something Microsoft has desperately needed for a long time. While I love the idea of them making original content, it really shouldn't be a major focus for them when they have so much work to do with their core busineses. If Windows 8 and Phone were a runaway success, then things would be different.

I would think it's the opposite. The way other companies are making it is by expanding into new/unchartered territory. Google is pioneering EVERYTHING (glasses, smartwatches, self-driving cars, etc...) and maybe they won't all stick, but somethings do, and that's how things catch on. Apple pioneered the first fast, smooth and beautiful touch screen device, other companies are investing in Original programming and it seems to be working well for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc... Companies are doing so much now. The fact that Microsoft takes years to do something innovative and then dump it is really bad. In relation to WP, they dumped Zune, they dumped fast core apps, they are dumping Mclaren and all the effort they spent on that, and now 6 months after showing off the lock screen app, they are finally releasing it as a super limited beta. I mean, it's kind of embarrassing that Microsoft can't develop anything cool anymore and moreso seems like they don't even want to.

microsoft will need a lot of the type of housekeeping that is happening right now to be able to reorganize a beauracratic, closed off, old style business structure that they have been operating on ever since their rise to dominance. 

 

i feel like they are on the path to modernizing their internal structure, but it's going to have a lot of the birthing pains we're seeing now with massive layoffs, cutting of projects and divisions. it's bad looking short term, but if it is pulled off properly, we could see a lean and mean microsoft in the near future that can actually compete with google.

Couldn't have said it any better. It is embarrassing. 6 months, limited beta, region specific, device specific due to RAM, etc. Backtracked on the Kinect on XBONE. Everything is going from innovative to lie end to try and gain new developing markets and ignoring us loyal fans .

There's more innovation going on at Microsoft than is noted in hip tech blogs. One thing to keep in mind is this: Google is an advertising company. They're good at that. They will publicize everything they do. They may be experimenting with a lot of cool consumer products, that will be an interesting story in itself. Consumers have never been their customers. Consumers have been their product, the audience they sell to advertisers. Actually having to deliver products that work and address product liability and warranty issues will be new territory for them.

The majority of Microsoft's revenue has always come from businesses and industries that need to incorporate technology into other products and equipment. From the computers onboard many cars on the road to medical imaging systems, Linux and Microsoft OSs are chosen. Google isn't even in those markets.

Even the Kinect device is used for high-tech physical therapy and to assist those with disabilities. So before you say that MS isn't innovative, peek under the hood.

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/research/default.aspx

Original programming for Xbox is fun, but the companies do their best work and deliver the best products are those that stick to their core competencies, and products that further their vision of where they want to be in 5 or 10 years. More dramas and comedies is not one of them.

Consider the possibility that McLaren is shelved for the time being while they build market share with lower-priced devices. If they can gain more market share, they can justify the R&D expenses related to McLaren, with a better chance of a real ROI. Personally, I'd hate to see McLaren come to market and be out of my price range or get my hands on one only to have Microsoft kill it in its infancy.

When companies invest in R&D, they have to consider how many of this widget they can sell. The higher the projected sales quantities, the lower the cost per unit and/or the more features they can incorporate into the design.

Not want to? Do you think the executives, engineers, and programmers at Microsoft are any less passionate than others in the industry about what they bring to market?

Have you considered the possibility that the lock screen app wasn't really ready for primetime when they teased us with it at //build? Is there a possibility that getting it to work flawlessly has taken some time? I'm sure they've had to decide which would be worse: frustrating the tech/dev community with delays or dealing with public outcry and bad publicity over an app that crashes WPs every where.

Years ago, I worked for a graphics presentation hardware/software developer. It was my job to demonstrate new products to potential buyers and at trade shows. Before tradeshows, the marketing department would sneak down to engineering on a Friday afternoon, take whatever they had going, and ship it to me via FedEx Saturday delivery. I had to be able to discover the new features and demonstrate them on Monday morning to hundreds of people without crashing the system. We used to joke about rumors of new products, asking if it was a marketing product (aka vaporware) or an engineering product (software in development).

At //build, the lockscreen app was vaporware. Now, it's becoming software. Wait for it.

Some other websites where you'll find what else Microsoft is doing above and beyond consumer products...

http://www.microsoft.com/publicsector/ww/Pages/index.aspx

http://www.pil-network.com/

 

 

 

How did your background sow up black and not blue like ever other one...hmmm. Anyway, a woman with brains. I am a Radiologic Technologist, so, what you said about healthcare is spot on. Also, education. Although Apple and Google are making headway and Apple has been there forever, bit is slowly being inched out. Good post.

➕ 1520

Thank you, Peg Leg. I'm not sure what you mean about a black background... but I am special.

To my knowledge, Apple has never built the embedded OS's required for equipment to function - i.e., cars (not the bluetooth/audio system, but the onboard computers that makes the ABS work), POS systems, ATMs, manufacturing robotics, inventory control, order pick systems, and on and on.

I am watching with interest the new Google contact lens for diabetics. Microsoft Research blogged about that in 2011 ( http://blogs.msdn.com/b/msr_er/archive/2011/07/27/functional-lens-promises-to-improve-the-quality-of-life-for-diabetics-and-others.aspx ). I'm not sure what became of that. Just the abstracts of the projects on the MS Research website are enough to tell you they are using the technology and resources in ways that will never become Microsoft products.

The difference between Microsoft Research and Google Research? Google is better at publicity. I suspect the geeks at Microsoft just assume the world would never understand (they're probably right, but I wish they'd try explaining some of it).

The other companies also have their core offerings on lock, Microsoft doesn't beyond Office and Windows in enterprise. Even Xbox is slipping.

Headline: Micrapsoft quietly kills its Lockscreen app, no more beta, no more dynamic lockscreen feature :p

They have to cut the fat in order to run in the marathon with Apple and Google. Those guys move so fast that change is needed in Redmond if they want to even compete.

this. 

 

apple does move faster than microsoft in certain areas because of their consumer focsued business model.

 

I'm not a dev but: Building a app for 1gb devices and then trying to get it to work on 512 is the wrong way around isn't it? ,, of I'm not mistaken that is what happened with vista? They designed a feature packed os then tried to squeeze it down to run on lower spec PC's .... I just hope this thing won't be laggy

Well apps are often built in the quickest way possible and then optimized after so that they can bring improved performance. It is important to make sure that something is functional before you begin optimizing it.

With everything I've developed I have completed the project and then optimized afterwards to improve performance slightly, I work with games on systems with plentiful resources so it is not a problem for me to get the game running in the first place whereas on weaker devices this can be a problem as the functional software may not even run!

1gb devices should be the priority, 512mb devices shouldn't even be a thought anymore, idk why they keep making new phones with such low ram, I know WP OS runs well on 512mb but future updates might not

Yah but the majority of windows phones are still 512, just imagine the reaction of they decided those devices can't have updated anymore. They simply can not do it. But i do agree that they should stop making those devices

Because the majority of the devices sold with Windows phone are in countries in south America, Africa and Asia and are CHEAP. That's why they keep releasing 512MB devices. You probably have a high end device, but you are the minority. Simple as that.

The 525 is also a budget phone but with 1gb of ram, I'm just saying they should stop releasing phones with 512mb of ram, because eventually future updates will make it a laggy mess

Ulop i agree with ypu man. Devices released today has to be supported for at least 2 years according to Microsoft policy. That means that the os will not be able to use more resources than 512 ram for 2 more years, that WILL hold them back a lot!!!!! What's done is done, but they've got to stop producing those phones as soon as possible

We'll be on WP9 before two years from now. 1-2 GB phones will probably be upgradeable. 512MB phones will get left on WP8

Is that REALLY a hold back? In the end, doesnt that just make them work hard to make the OS more optimized? If something were really that taxing that they absolutely couldnt make it run smoothe ron 512mb devices.. guess what? block that phone from said feature.

and that aside, this isnt lagdroid, theres no reason at all that a phone would need gigs of ram to perform effeciently aside from games.

Right now what's done is done, we can't change the fact that the majority of WP users have 512mb of RAM, we get that the reason why is because those phones are pocket friendly, but eventually the OS will get updated with new features that will require at least 1gb of RAM, Nokia had the opportunity to change that with a new budget phone with 1gb of RAM but what did they do? Released another 512mb phone, if they had put 1gb on the 630/635 then for the next few months/years the majority of WP users would be on 1gb but since they didn't we will have yet again the majority of WP users on 512mb devices and yet more people left out of new features/apps

I don't know where they sell them but they should be selling them everywhere, I have no idea why they don't, it's a budget Windows Phone with 1gb of ram and we don't even here much of it, the 525 should take the 630/635's spot

If it is possible to produce 1GB phones cheap, then I agree. It should be possible, RAM is pretty cheap now. But Microsoft is doing weird shit anyways and they are killing themselves...

they should only be the priority if the majority of the userbase is on 1gb devices. imho this is a stupid approach they are taking as the vast majority of devices are 512, and even in this year, the only worldwide released devices (the 6xx series) are 512. the best selling model last year was the 5xx and that is 512. 

 

and with no halo device this fall, they really need to be focusing on making software run on the devices that people have in their hands, because if their experience is limited, they aren't going to go buy another wp device, they'll go buy an iphone or android device which will run a majority of things available for their platforms.

That's why we're saying that they should stop with the 512mb devices and start shipping 1gb on new releases from now on whether it's low end or high end, if they want to avoid these type of problems that's what they should be doing from now on, the 525 had 1gb but the new 630/635 don't? I just don't get what there trying to do

I'm with you on that. Also bought 520 knowing it was the bottom of the bottom of windows phone. But i did it to try the OS, and I've got to say I'm loving it!!!! Even with the limitations that the 512 comes with. Can't wait for a new flagship to be released. Except now it sounds like they won't even have a flagship with the McLaren being cancelled.....

Hehe, I'm just like you. I had been on Android before, I bought a 520 last year in April when it came out, and today I bought myself the 1020 :D
I had to get it after I heard its EOL is imminent!
And now I am super happy knowing I'll be able to try out this lock screen thing on my 1020. which I loved seeing at BUILD ^0^

That yesterday's lowest-end (but still good) phone had only 512 KB should not be reason enough that 512KB will be good enough for today and tomorrow's lowest-end phone.

I can't see how.  It most likely hooks into/replaces the slide up to unlock animation.  It's not contently animating itself when the phone is off for hell of it.

There is probably more battery consumption checking your calendar to see if the lock screen needs to be updated :D

Why would it be a battery killer? Should only be active while you're unlocking... I guess if you do that a lot maybe...

Well its an app and not built into the OS, surely it will consume maybe a little bit of battery, not sure though will see

Yea. Mainly because its an app. Apps consume battery. I have a 620 and in order to save my battery I have done the following:
1. Reduced brightness to low
2. Removed unwanted background apps
3. Gave more sync interval for all my mail boxes
4. No animations on my screen
..etc..

After doing all this.. I don't feel like downloading anything that might eat up my battery.
So wanna get this.
Wish it was an in-built feature :(

I'm thinking there's gotta be some hooks into the OS directly being MS is working so closely with this app.  Most likely will consume less battery than any of the apps that normally run in the background.  Heres' to hoping :D

Wow.. you really dont understand anything..

just because its an "app" doesnt mean its less effceient at all, it all depends on what it does, in this case, its just an app that works as the "door" and shows settings etc. the real work is done by the OS via API's... to put it in simple terms.. ther code is in the OD, all the apps do is put the CD into the CD play to start playing the music.
 

I was asking myself the same. I think this could open the possibilities for regular developers to create Glance-like apps, but TBH, I'm not sure.

Well, i'm not sure i'm going to jump on the beta right away. If ms is unable to make the update to the final app seamless, you'll need to reset your phone just for that. Will wait this time. but good to see that things are moving.

He did mention its not gunna be apart of the OS itself, but an app from the store, if something went wrong all you would need to do is uninstall it as you would with any other game or app

They did mention 8.1 DP users would be able to get the final version just fine and it's not really happening. It works for some and not at all for others. Some say it's due to BitLocker, some say you have to revert your phone back to WP8 to the update no matter what... if it was indeed due to BitLocker, they would have simply released a note stating that if you have BitLocker enabled, do not download the update and they would have left it available for others without BitLocker to download... which is not the case, for a reason. So, yes, they may say whatever they want, I do not trust it. I do not want to  reset my phone several times a year because of shitty processes on their end, that's not how it supposed to work. As I said, I'll just wait this time, lesson learned. ;)

well, that's the other thing, it's developer preview, not a beta. the differences between 8.1DP and the actual 8.1 + cyan are very minimal. anyway, beta or not, it shouldn't have been such a hassle. but as i said, lesson learned. got tricked once, was my "fault", not twice. :)

It's so long time ago I saw the demo, what was the actual purpose of the app? It looked cool with differend lock screen animations but does it add something practical? Like something new to the lock screen?

So much for the jumping up and down by the 512MB phone users. 820 has 1GB and you 7,6,5 series need to pipe down for a while.

Oh Yeah!!!!!

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