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Pi Locker brings gesture controls to your lockscreen

June 13, 2014
Pi Locker

You may not be spending too much time with your Android device’s lockscreen, but it’s certainly the first thing you see when you bring out your phone from your pocket or purse. Given this, you might want your lockscreen to offer more interactivity than the default shortcuts or unlock method offered by your UI. Depending on manufacturer or ROM, you might have a combination of slider shortcuts, shortcut buttons or lockscreen widgets. And of course, you can interact with notifications on-screen.

Those who have played around with custom ROMs might remember the lockscreen gesture features offered by CyanogenMod until version 7. Lockscreen gestures let you access all sorts of functionalities just by drawing figures or swiping gestures on the lockscreen. These include directly calling or texting a contact, launching the camera, toggling connectivity features, and the like. For some reason, the CyanogenMod team dropped support for this feature starting with CM9, and it has not returned since then.

A few third-party add-ons attempt to bring lockscreen gestures back into play again, and these include Pi Locker, a new app released via XDA Developers. The interface and functionality are quite basic at this time, and gestures are pre-set for now. You have functions like unlock, Bluetooth toggle, WiFi toggle, vibration and sound toggles, and camera launch, browser launch and flashlight toggle. In terms of customizability, the app offers a change of colors and lockscreen backgrounds, but that’s just about it.

Is Pi Locker worth installing on your device yet? Perhaps if you’re looking for better features and extensibility, you won’t enjoy the app yet, as it is still very basic. It does not let you customize gestures and functionalities. For instance, direct dial or direct SMS would be one of the more sought-after features from a lockscreen replacement.

But the potential could be there, especially if the app could support accepting gestures for other lockscreens, instead of replacing the device’s lockscreen altogether. Perhaps this would require deeper integration into the OS — through an Xposed module, perhaps? — but this is how I would envision gesture controls from the lock screen in the first place.