The lock screen on Android phones and tablets can be very irritating because it often shows very little that is of interest and at best there is just a clock. It also gets in the way and you have to swipe the lock screen away to get to the phone’s features. Lock screen apps are one way to make it more useful and Chronus can be used to show the weather, calendar events, email, news reports and more.
Getting Chronus up and running is a bit more complicated than a standard app and you don’t run the app itself, at least not straight away. First off, you must have a recent version of Android and enable lock screen apps in the settings. On a Samsung Galaxy S4 for example, go to Settings and select the My Device tab at the top. Tap Lock screen and then tick ‘Multiple widgets’. On a Google Nexus 7, which is plain vanilla Android, go to Settings, Security and tick Enable widgets.
Now that lock screen apps are enabled, Chronus can be selected and added. When the screen is off, tap the power button to turn on the phone or tablet’s screen and then swipe right over the clock or whatever is at the top of the screen to reveal a large tile with a plus button in the middle.
Tap the plus button and a list of lock screen widgets is displayed. Among the widgets are several variations of Chronus, such as Chronus Clock+, Chronus Flex, Chronus Weather and so on. Some only work if you buy the Pro version and they are marked with a Pro flash, so avoid those if you are using the free app.
After selecting one of the Chronus widgets for the lock screen, go into the phone and tap the Chronus app to start it. This enables you to configure what information the lock screen app displays.
The widget you select determines the basic features, such as a clock, weather forecast, news and so on. The app lets you customise the features. You can configure the clock and alarm, and choose whether to show the date, alarms that have been set, choose bold or normal text and the colour. The weather options include setting a location, temperature in F or C, classic or standard style, and the source of weather information.
Extensions are available for Chronus that add extra features and five are bundled with the app. These include calendar events, Gmail, missed calls, text messages and BBC Weather. Only two can be displayed in the free app. More extensions are available in the Google Play Store and a search for Chronus will lit them.
Chronus can display the latest news taken from top news websites around the world, if you have selected one of the widgets with this feature. In the settings is an option to list all the news sources and there are a lot of them. You can select the ones you want to see and this shows headlines on the lock screen.
Chronus is interesting in the way that it tries to make the lock screen useful, but there are limitations that are irritating. These could be limitations of the system rather than the app though. Android supports multiple customisable lock screens, a bit like the home and other screens that you can put apps and widgets on. There is the home lock screen and additional ones that can be accessed by swiping left or right.
If the Chronus widget is placed on the home lock screen, it gets cut off half way down and you cannot see all of the information that is available. This is particularly bad on my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, but my Nexus 7 tablet allows a larger area for widgets to display their information. Putting the Chronus widget to the left of the main screen solves the problem and it can show all of its information. However, then you have to turn on the screen with the power button and swipe to see Chronus. You might as well swipe to unlock and view the main screen with its widgets and apps.
If you don’t mind this irritation, which is more of an Android issue, Chronus is a good widget that makes your lock screen more useful.
Instead of trying to turn the lock screen into something useful, why not remove it altogether? No Lock could not be simpler and it enables or disables the lock screen. There is nothing more to be said about it really. When you press a button to turn on the phone or tablet, either you see a lock screen or the home screen depending on whether No Lock is enabled or disabled.
You should try it, going straight to the home screen means you can get to your apps and phone faster and it is surprising what a psychological effect this has. It makes your phone seem so much quicker and easier to use, it is amazing. Of course, there is absolutely no security and anyone could pick up your phone and use it, but if that doesn’t bother you or if you are the careful sort that doesn’t leave your phone lying around unattended, get it. It’s brilliant.
Title: Chronus: Home & Lock Widget (Google Play Store)
Android: 4.1 or later
Title: No Lock (Google Play Store)
Android: 1.5 or later
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 20 August 2014