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

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

491 Comments
  • +925
  • 920
  • Too little too late comes to mind....
  • 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 :/
  • What❔.... Please explain further...
  • Indeed!!! I'm waiting for it!!!! Next week Friday!!! Calender marked!!! Cortana reminder set!
  • +925
  • 512MB 'on the roadmap' Is that Esperanto for, "we've not bothered yet, cause we're pushing high-end..?"
  • +920
  • More likely "Not optimised yet for 512MB, but it will be it's just taking some time"
  • 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.
  • Read the article, its being developed with Rudy Huyn, has any if his apps disappointed you?
  • 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?
  • I had the same thought... If any team at MS needs a WP developer hit me up!
  • Maybe, the idea originated from Rudy? Hence, he is part of the team, but not the whole team.. Just a thought.
  • He's better than most of their employees.
  • He's fast and effective and efficient.
  • 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://lmgtfy.com/?q=wp8+duplicating+music
  • 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.
  • Maybe we can get hubs back with WP9 or threshold whichever they call it.
  • +920
  • 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.
  • I expect more of that in the future
  • I had problems with duplicating. Very frustrating
  • Here here...
  • 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.
  • Nobody watched the conference... They said the developers could now use your full lockscteen
  • 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
  • +925
  • 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.
  • I would say improvement of Xbox Music occurs on 930 with Cyan!
  • 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.
  • No, it's "512mb is awful in 2014 and it's not an easy thing to optimize for"
  • As they should.
  • All the stupid people from Nokia who decided to save 5USD and sell cripled phones are fired.
  • +AtivS
  • +630
  • +625  
  • 928
  • +925
  • +820
  • 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.
  • +8X
  • -720
  • Lol I tweeted him about this yesterday and few hours later this tweet comes out. Coincidence?
  • Tease
  • Can we finally get gestures as passwords instead of the annoying typing of numbers???? :-)
  • +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...
  • Seriously. That's be awesome
  • They should just make swipe available on the numeric keyboard ;)
  • What if your password has a repeated digit? It can't autocorrect like it does with words-- that would be a huge security flaw.
  • I'm really surprised this wasn't released already! I thought it was part of the WP8.1 update. Horrific
  • If it goes in to beta next week, you'll probably have it available before 8.1 rolls out to legacy devices.
  • Oh! The horror! Lets all leave WP right now!
  • Hey ya, funny
  • 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
  • Updates are faster in app than OS.
  • 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.
  • Is your name based /inspired from a book?
  • Funny WP has gone full circle.
  • ..iOS is even worse. iOS without Apps is crippled. 
  • Ogly
  • Even for those with dev preview?
  • Possibly Yes.
  • Could be what the update for this week was for.
  • Oh snap cool!
  • Finally!
  • Best tease news all day ;)
  • That's way far the best news last week
  • 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.
  • +Endless possibilities
  • Don't expect that much...bcoz now a days MS is too smart to mess up all...so hope for a decent stuff....:)
  • And moreover the app would be beta
  • 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.
  • Excellent!
  • Give us a date !
  • DUMB Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Well, I'm impressed
  • Tomorrow's news: Nadella scraps lockscreen app. HAHA just kidding!
  • Sadly this is becoming his dominate theme.
  • 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.
  • That's right. They can have fun projects once they have sorted-out the serious stuff first.
  • 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
  • +Satya Nadella
  • ^^ This, i'm starting to dislike MS.
  • 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.
  • Google moves fast.   Apple moves like molasses.
  • this.    apple does move faster than microsoft in certain areas because of their consumer focsued business model.  
  • That's just silly, he isn't killing things a simple as long screen features.
  • Superb ;)
  • +1520
  • Is this that dynamic lock screen thing?
  • Jup
  • 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
  • Most apps on Windows Phone start at 1gb than implement efficient ways to allow it on 512mb devices.
  • Like subway surfers??? Oh god in that i will sell my lumia.
  • Well first they code it,then they optimize it
  • 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!
  • Aaaaah ok kwl thanx for clearing that up fir the novice! ;)
  • 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
  • I know you're right but it's their own fault, they just keep releasing 512mb 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
  • Exactly thank you! These people just don't understand
  • 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
  • L525 is the dream phone here in Brazil. Cheap + 1GB of RAM. But it's just in Europe (I think) =/