We all know that one of the biggest draws to Android is the ability to make your device something that defines you; the ability to make your device your own. Most people have figured out how to change their background, add useful widgets, and even use different home launchers to make their phone unique. I’ve looked at a lot of pretty looking phones in my day, and all of the best ones were themed from top to bottom. And what better way to set the tone than by making the first thing you or people see themed as well? The lock screen is the most commonly overlooked “customizable thing” on Android phones, and I’m going to show you can make it as brilliant (or ugly in some cases) as the rest of your phone.
First, you’re going to need an app called widgetlocker. It can be found in the Android Market here. The app costs $2.99, but it’ll probably be the best money you’ve ever spent. Trust me. Once you’ve installed widgetlocker the world suddenly opens up for you. It was originally intended to allow any widget to be on your lock screen, but it has evolved into so much more than that. Widgetlocker allows you to make your lock screen no different than your home screen. You can add widgets, shortcuts, apps, or whatever else your heart desires. But we’ll get to that.
Step 1: Choosing your wallpaper
Everyone has a different style so I’m not going to tell you how to choose your background. Widgetlocker gives you the option of using a different background for your lock screen than your home screen so we’ll just start with that. This step isn’t really necessary, but I’m including it in case people need everything spelled out for them. Some good places to start looking for wallpapers are places like deviantart, reddit/r/wallpaper (as well as many other reddits), and my favorite: Google. Google images allows you to sort out the overall color, size, and much more. If you want a picture of lightening in black and white you can search for it. Google image lightening, and use the bar on the left side of the screen to sort out the pictures. You’ll want to select large/largest (that way you can get the best resolution when your phone crops it), black, and watch as Google does all the work for you!
Step 2: Your actual lock
The other important part of a lock screen is the lock (who would have guessed?). Now, widgetlocker comes with a lot of different style locks to start with. In fact, pretty much every smartphone ever made has its iteration of a lock as one of the selectable themes. Pick your locks from there, where you want them, and what other goodies you want them to be able to do (silence the phone, open the camera, etc). But if you’re like me (or you like my lock screen, pictured above), you want more. Much more! Lucky for you, xda has you covered (like they ever wouldn’t). Widgetlocker is “theme compatible” and boy oh boy does xda have quite the amount of themes. In fact, there’s 300+ pages of different themes for you to choose from right here. The easiest way to do it? Click the “Click for QR Code” button under the themes you like (attached at the bottom of posts), use Google Goggles to scan it, click the link after it’s done scanning and download the zip file. If you have a browser that shows your downloads, click the link, and select “widgetlocker” when it asks you what you want to open the file with. From there on out you can now select that theme!
Step 3: The widgets
This is the part where I can only offer you advice. I can’t tell you how to make your lock screen look, but I can tell you some tricks with a lot of the commonly used widgets (and if you want to really see some cool stuff, check out this thread). Some commonly used widgets are minimalistic text (which I’m using for my battery and weather), simi clock (my clock), mClock, beautiful widgets (paid, but probably the best), SMS Unread Count (my unread calls and my unread texts widgets), phantom music widget, and a few more. If you learn how to use those widgets your world will completely open up. Another useful tool skill to learn is using icons effectively. Whether you’re going to use them with sms unread count (which is what I did), simi folder, or whatever, it’s important to have good ones. xda, once again, has a massive collection of icon packs here. Another useful tool (and one of my favorites for my home screen) is simple text. The app is as simple as it sounds. It literally creates text based icons on the go.
Step 4: Options
The final step requires that you go through widgetlocker and look through its settings. Do you want the notification bar to show up or not (I don’t)? Do you want the background tinted at all? Do you want apps to show their labels? Do you want to force your lockscreen to be in landscape all the time? There are literally so many cool settings for you to tweak that I can’t begin to list them all.
Now go, be free, and make your lock screen look like it actually belongs on your phone.