Microsoft Introduces a Visual Overhaul for Your Android Lock Screen with Picturesque

( [email protected] ) Feb 03, 2015 03:23 PM EST
Picturesque Lock Screen offers dynamic lock screen images, Bing search, and more. Photo: Microsoft

It's one of those things that makes you wonder why no one did it before, but Microsoft has just released an Android app called Picturesque Lock Screen that acts as a dynamic slideshow for your phone's lock screen.

You may be wondering why Microsoft is developing Android apps when it has its own mobile operating system to worry about, but new CEO Satya Nedella has made a point of adapting and promoting a cross-platform philosophy. Picturesque is another in a growing line of cross-platform apps recently released from the company's Microsoft Garage team that has so far released the Outlook email app for the iPhone, Journeys & Notes for Android, and the Next Lock Screen for Android. 

While the Next Lock Screen is similar to the Picturesque Lock Screen app, it was made more specifically for business users while Picturesque is made for personal users.

Picturesque Lock Screen features multiple lock screen images that can easily be scrolled through, as well as a Bing search bar that can be used while the device stays locked, a customizable news feed, device notifications, weather reports, and easy shortcuts to your most frequently used apps.

And if you want to have some fun with your lock screen photos, you can switch to a new image by shaking your phone or swiping to the right. The images are automatically selected randomly from the daily Bing image (up to six days old), similarly to how Yahoo Weather chooses images from Flickr.

Of course, many Android users already have a customized set of apps and widgets painstakingly organized and set on their lock screens, so introducing something to replace that might be jarring to some users, but if you're not a fan of the app drawer and want to try something refreshing and new, this might be just right for you.

The app was developed by Microsoft's Garage project team that was established to allow Microsoft engineers the chance to make whatever they want in their spare time. "We are a community of interns, employees, and teams from everywhere in the company who come together to turn our wild ideas into real projects," the Microsoft Garage team website declares.

All Microsoft Garage projects are free, and the list is growing every few months. In addition to Picturesque, the Next Lock Screen, and Journeys & Notes, the team has also developed a web browser for the Android Wear called Torque, and a simple voice-controlled space shooter for the Xbox One called Voice Commander.

At the time of this writing, Picturesque is enjoying a 3.8 score on the Google Play store from 365 reviews. While that means that most of the reviews are positive, there are still others who have said that the app might not be ready for prime time just yet.

"I suggest labeling this as an Alpha build... There's a lot of bugs in this lock screen," one reviewer writes. "Launching the camera will crash the launcher, unlocking it won't send you to your homescreen(it'll take you into the app), notification isn't working for me, no news story appears, and sometimes it'll randomly crash on you... The toggles do work though, animations are very smooth and it looks good."

You can pick up the Picturesque Lock Screen app for free on the Google Play store exclusively for Android devices.