Gesture Lock

Saturday, Nov 13. 2010  –  Category: Musings

(Just want a link to the app in the market? Scan the QR code to the right or click here)

While I was on vacation last week eating my way through Taiwan I kept whipping out my phone to take photos.  Trouble is, I’d keep unlocking my phone, swiping my home screens or switching to the apps launcher to launch one of the many camera apps I have installed (RetroCamera, FX Camera, or the built in Camera).  Or I’d grab my phone to check into Foursquare, or tweet, or write notes… or pretty much anything.  The one thing in common with all these tasks?

I knew exactly what I wanted to do everytime I took my phone out.

Yet each time I was unlocking, and then swiping around to find the app and then launching it.  In the case of a camera app that means losing precious seconds of the moment I’m trying to capture.  Soooo it occurred to to see if I could find a lock screen that would enable me to just use gestures to unlock and automatically launch apps.  The closest I found was some lock screen that came on some old Samsung devices (though seemingly not on the Galaxy S I had).. and even that was limited to hard-coded “letter” gestures.

What to do, what to do?  I’m an Android nut/nerd, so figured I’d write my own… and after a couple days of hacking, I finished it up today.  So without further ado, I present Gesture Lock, now available in the Android Market for 99 cents.  I might make a limited free version available later, but was too lazy to do it now.  Here’s a couple of screenshots:

This is the main launcher app.  This is where you can define custom gestures for unlocking the screen, and mapping to any available app you have installed.  It also has a preferences screen for a few basic prefs: enabling/disabling Gesture Lock (of course), toggling the clock between 24/12 hour clock, and enabling/disabling the notification bar.  I leave mine enabled so I can see things like email, text messages, tweets, battery status, etc. – but the caveat of this is that the notification bar is then draggable.  Convenient, but less secure.  Disabling it is more secure, but less convenient.  Trade-off.  Meh.

This is what the lock screen looks like with a sample gesture drawn.  Super convenient, unlock, and launch your app without delay.

If you install the app and find any issues or have some comments/suggestions, I’d appreciate any feedback here…

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15 Comments to “Gesture Lock”

  1. tylerstyle Says:

    That’s a really great Idea. But speaking security, like you did with the notification bar, this is pretty insecure, isn’t it? You’d have access to pretty much any info to any data on the phone, without knowing that secret swipe to unlock it. Scribbling about, until the right thing pops up.

    So it pretty much is just a convenience app, if you think about it. Really great idea, if you don’t want to lock your phone in the first place.

  2. Stephen Lau Says:

    Yup – basically any third party lock screen is going to somewhat compromise security for convenience (IMHO). Gesture Lock should definitely not be seen as a more secure lock screen in any which way… it’s purely intended for convenience purposes. (i.e. an improvement over the default slide-to-unlock screen)

  3. Paul Hobbs Says:

    Hi there,

    Really like the app, but I have one question – how can I change the background image when Gesture Lock is activated?

    Cheers,

    Paul

  4. Stephen Lau Says:

    Hey Paul, Glad you’re finding it useful! Right now Gesture Lock uses your system wallpaper (i.e. the one you have set for your home screen background). Would it be helpful to have it give you the option to set a separate wallpaper background? I can look into that..

    cheers, steve
  5. Jane Says:

    Hey ! That’s great app ! Thanks ! But I have a big problem .. I can’t find it on Market . I enter ‘Gesture Lock’ into the search field, but nothing … Please, help !

  6. Stephen Lau Says:

    Hi Jane – what kind of phone do you have? It’s possible it’s being filtered out depending on your capabilities. It requires Android 2.0 or higher..

  7. Paul Hobbs Says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Yeah, if I could select the image that would be awesome. I use live wallpaper for my home screen but Gesture Lock doesn’t seem to pick up the live wallpaper, which is fine. It would just be nice if I could choose which static image it does use ( although I use it regardless).

    Cheers,

    Paul

  8. Paul Hobbs Says:

    BTW – I have a HTC Desire.

  9. Stephen Lau Says:

    @paul Cool, okay. That makes sense… I’ll look at building something into the next version to support that. Thanks!

  10. Daniel Says:

    Hi Steve, thank you for this great app, i really love it. But recently i realized this Homescreen-Key thing. If i press it on my HTC Wildfire i can jump easily to my homescreen. I don’t think that’s a good idea… Do you consider this as a feature? What do you think? Would you think about a change in a next release? If there is any?

  11. Rob Says:

    Just bought it. Nexus S 4G 2.3.7 The default unlock slider comes back after you disable it. Not sure if that is intentional but this isn’t secure. Thanks for listening

  12. someperson Says:

    Hello Stephen!

    Did you add the “choose picture” function ? I’d really love to use a gesture lock with custom picture.

    A few things I think might be worth considering (an IMHO):

    options for changing clock font size or disabling them alltogether

    a simple “safe” notification bar that does nothing but show the missed calls, SMS and whatnot (still would have to unlock the screen with right gesture to get anywhere.

    Warm regards, a potential buyer :)

  13. Joseph Dalughut Says:

    Nice Application Stephen, its amazing

  14. Quidam Says:

    Big problem, When you press the home button (tablet) unlocks the device!!!

  15. Quidam Says:

    Also hapening with the recent apps button!!

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