Apps and advertisers are coming to your lock screen, and it’s going to get tedious

The latest in your phone’s lock screen technology is real estate. Apple made the iPhone’s lock screen the centerpiece of iOS 16, giving users more control over the way it looks and works. But when Apple talked about beautiful clock fonts and nifty color-matched wallpapers, it also showed off a world in which your lock screen is more than just a security measure: it’s becoming another surface, On which companies can put information, applications and even advertisements. , Apple is also far from the only company to think about. techcrunch There are reports that Glance, a lock screen content company (which is apparently a thing!) is already in talks with US carriers and plans to launch some Android phones in the US in the next two months.

The competition for your eyes and attention through widgets and notifications is already on apps and on your home screen. Now it looks like it’s going a step further: When you turn on your phone, the first thing you see is before you lift or unlock it. It may be at least a step too far.

If you’ve never seen an eye-catching device before, one way to imagine the app is like the Snapchat Discover feed on your phone’s lock screen. The company offers a rotating set of news headlines, videos, quizzes, games and photos that appear every time you turn on your phone screen. Nazar calls these content cards “Nazar” naturally, and says that users consume these Nazar 65 times a day on average.

Glimpse is an endless content machine on your lock screen
Image: glance

And, of course, it’s all full of commercials. Glance is a subsidiary of InMobi Group, an Indian advertising technology company. It has partnerships with several manufacturers, including Samsung and Xiaomi, and the company says its software is built into more than 400 million phones across Asia. Google is an investor in the company; So is Peter Thiel.

In a certain light, glance or something like that is a perfectly sensible idea. You don’t need to constantly go in and out of apps looking for news and information, you don’t even need to unlock your phone, you rely on your device to bring you something interesting every time you turn it on . And some non-intrusive ads wouldn’t hurt, would it? Eventually, I bought a Kindle with ads on the lock screen to save a few bucks, and it doesn’t bother me. (Though I’d never bought a Prime Exclusive phone that came with lock screen ads, and apparently not anyone else.)

Apple has echoed the idea, talking about how it envisions a more feature-rich lock screen as a way to help you use your phone. low, Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi referred to the lock screen as “the face of your phone,” and said that features like Live Activities can make it easier to get quick information without having to unlock your phone and let yourself get away with all the distractions inside. can open for “If you can get the answer at a glance, you don’t unlock,” he said, “and once you’ve unlocked your phone, you almost forget why you were there in the first place! “

It’s a great idea to let you customize your lock screen!
image: apple

But by opening up this space, these companies are giving apps and advertisers a chance to get even closer to you. Developers will certainly make live activities that last long after being useful, better than holding you up every time your phone lights up. Platforms will find ways to drag more of their content to the lock screen, trying to hook you into the feed before you hit a button.

Generally speaking, most users don’t change their settings, and you better believe developers will use this to their advantage. “Consumers will move from looking for content to consuming what is shown to them,” said Naveen Tiwari, CEO of InMobi. Forbes When Jhalak launched. He’s super foggy! And maybe true!

Above all, a vision of the future is a way to turn smartphones into consumption-only devices. And is “easy access to an endless feed of moderately-interesting content” really a worthwhile goal? As we seek to reset our relationship with technology, I would argue that we should find the place add Friction to give you what you need when you look at your phone… but also to help you feel like you don’t need to look at your phone at all. And if, as Federighi said, the job of the lock screen is to help you avoid distraction, then I can’t imagine a worse idea than putting a TikTok-style video feed between you and your home screen.

Nazar will certainly have competition, but it’s already a good example of where it’s all going. In June, it hosted Glance Live Fest, a virtual three-day festival that took place entirely on users’ lock screens. It streamed concerts and interactive challenges, live tutorials and interviews, and a ton of live shopping content to more than 70 million users. It’s like an opt-out music festival, in that every time someone sends you a message, you’re taken away. It feels distracting, frustrating, and just flat-out tedious.

There is no doubt that our lock screen could be better. The whole “running list of notifications” thing isn’t great, and a push for more personalization will please a lot of users. But that space should be just for users and users, not become another breeding ground for distraction and advertising. We should take back control of our phone, not give it any more.

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