All eyes on the ‘Lockverse’
Or how our lock screen has become the most coveted digital estate for a whole new generation of apps.
In 2021, Pinterest's trend report highlighted the boom in interior design, which is not surprising considering the pandemic-related lockdowns. However, what's interesting is that the visual platform also observed this trend extending to our digital assets, specifically smartphones, with a significant increase in searches for widgets and custom lock screens
Fast-forward to 2023, and what at first appeared to be a purely aesthetic trend now hints at a utilitarian dimension. Leading this trend are a new generation of applications with reinvented UX, whose goal is to take a central spot on your lock screen. While it may seem trivial, in a world where attention is scarce, the lock screen is prime real estate for apps looking to stay top-of-mind.
Observe the business stakes in India, where the trend is taking shape in the form of a unicorn with Google investing billions of dollars. Glance, a software company with the slogan "Making lock screens delightful," enables users to personalize their home screens with images, videos, news, or special offers. Additionally, it offers brands the opportunity to display targeted ads.
The startup announced its expansion to the US in July 2022, but the competition in the West is heating up as Apple has also recently introduced a customizable lock screen in its iOS 16 operating system. This includes a built-in editor for users to customize their experience with widgets, wallpapers, and other themes. Developers can use WidgetKit to create dedicated apps, and the "Live Activities" feature allows them to create live updated screen widgets.
Clearly, the competition for users' attention on their home screen is about to rage. At the risk of information burnout? Sure, Glance makes these notifications more elegant with its peaceful or uplifting backgrounds, but will this be sufficient?
It’s not unlikely that Western development avenues will diverge from the Indian model, as evidenced by the success of the American intimate app Locket Widget, which allows users to share photos directly on their friends' home screens via a widget. Initially created by Matthew Moss as a birthday gift for his girlfriend, the tool was eventually made available to the public through the App Store after multiple requests from the couple's relatives, and a video went viral on TikTok.
A sort of next-generation social network that inspires others to follow suit with players such as LiveStatus, a lock screen messaging app, that currently ranks 22nd on the social media app store.
Other examples include: Home Room Widget - which bills itself as “a listening room on your home screen designed for you and your loved ones” - or the French app Airbuds, which allows you to see your friends' listening activity directly on your home screen. I recently spoke with Airbuds' founder Gilles Poupardin, who confirmed the popularity of this format, particularly among high school and college students. According to Poupardin, "We observe a high rate of interaction with the content that is pushed on the widget, especially the tune twins when you listen to the same song as a friend. The tap rate on the content pushed in the widget is much better than the opening rate of notifications." While the business model may still be in development, the format may well be a game changer.
The key takeaway? 2021 and to a certain extent 2022, marked the advent of the Metaverse with, among other things, the purchase of virtual lands on The Sandbox, Decentraland & Co. However, 2023 seems to be moving towards a more rational and pragmatic approach, shifting away from the vast spaces of Web 3.0 to a more personal and intimate digital realm: the lock screen. In a world where digital abundance is the norm, the simplicity and exclusivity of the lock screen offers a refreshing change. As the saying goes, less is more, and in this case, the limited space of the lock screen means that not everyone can be a part of it, making it all the more valuable.
Thanks! Great stuff - have long been wondering why the lockscreen isn‘t being used better.
Super fascinating to see how interior design is broadening is turning this way