7th July 2022

POV: Ads on Lock Screens


Android users in the US could soon start to see content, apps and ads on their phone lock screens in the coming months, following a trend that has already gained traction in Asian markets.

Details and Implications:

Phone lock screens are the hottest new tech real estate. Last month Apple said that it will be revamping the lock screen on iOS with widgets, real-time info and other personalisation features. But while Apple talked about clock fonts and color-matched wallpapers, it also gave a glimpse of a world in which the lock screen is not just a security measure; but another surface on which companies can put information, apps, and even ads.

Now Glance, an India based start-up backed by Google and Indian operator Jio, is in talks to launch its lock screen platform on Android phones in the US (and looking to expand globally in the coming years) which would see it push news headlines, videos, games and photos every time a user picks up their handset.

Glance personalises the content feed on the lock screen based on users’ interests and is pre-installed on more than 400 million phones around Asia where it works with manufacturers to enhance the economics of cheaper but feature-packed low-end and mid-range devices. The company is now building a “premium offering” for the US where people have higher propensity to pay for digital services and is engaging with US carriers for partnerships as it prepares to launch on several smartphone models next month. This will be a different business model for Glance which has direct relationships with Android makers in Asia, whereas it is the carriers that control most smartphone sales in the US, with handsets bundled with mobile data plans.

The logic behind such lock screen features seems to make sense on the surface. Instead of having to actively interact with apps, users can easily see a range of information when they pick up their phone without even unlocking it. But, while Apple has emphasised the privacy features of its platform, Glance would potentially look to monetize the lock screen by encouraging users to download particular apps or interact with certain content. Amazon uses these principles with cheaper models of its Kindle e-reader.


The competition for eyeballs and attention has already come out of apps and onto your homescreen through widgets and notifications. Now, it looks like it’s headed one step further. Whether consumers will respond well to this proposition remains to be seen.

Further Reading:

TechCrunch | 9to5Google | Techradar | The Drum | The Verge

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