Unlocking the potential

What's the most frequent activity that you perform with your mobile phone?

Is it using WhatsApp? Or answering calls??

Not really. Whenever you pick up your phone for any task, you first unlock your screen. You might have a lock pattern to unlock, or you may just swipe the screen to get into the home screen - but you still see that initial screen that asks you to unlock before proceeding.

It is no doubt a good tool to ensure that nothing unintended happens on the phone. The simple task of locking the screen ensures that calls do not go out when the key brushes the phone in the pocket, and emails or messages aren’t sent by the curious kid who is trying to mess up with someone else’s phone. Locking the screen with a pattern also prevents unauthorized use of the phone.

However, we should also note that the task of unlocking the phone does not really add any additional value to our experience.
Our main aim is to use the phone, and this extra step is actually a waste of time in one sense!

How can this non-value-add-but-essential task be tweaked?

Lock screen apps provide an answer to this question.

What do these apps do? Pretty simple. They try to add some value to the task of unlocking your mobile screen – by integrating a game, adding shortcuts to commonly used apps, providing quick access to content etc. Some of these even let you access common functionalities (like the camera) even without unlocking the screen

Enter the concept of monetization, and you have apps that pay back users to unlock their own phones!

This exciting concept has been around for a while in many countries like Japan (Lock Joy) and South Korea (Cash Slide, Latte Screen etc). Now, with a neat app called Unlockar, it has entered India as well.

As the website (www.unlockar.com) says, “Unlockar is an android app that delivers exciting, user preferred content on phone's lock screen and rewards you every time you unlock your phone.” And it does a good job at that.

Once you install the app, you will be asked to choose some categories of content (e.g. sports, movies, technology etc) that you’d like to see on the lock screen. And that’s it – your unlock screen starts to show your preferred content every time you pick up the phone. You can switch between categories even without unlocking the screen. What’s more, every time you unlock the screen, the app rewards you with credits which you can use on its website to buy products or deals. If you have the time and patience to watch some advertisements, you can earn some real money too!

While the concept is very cool, the app could have been a little neater in presenting content on the lock screen. Instead of taking up the full screen for some jazzy images (unrelated to the news), just the text of the news (like in Moto phones) would have looked better. Also, an option to click on the text to open it would have been easier for users.

Small size of the app (less than 1MB), and the option of using only Wi-Fi for its operation (as claimed by the company) are some attractive features of this app. With 100,000+ downloads and a rating of 4.1 on Google Play (as on May 31, 2015), this one is definitely worth a try!

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