If your phone is running Android Jelly Bean (4.2), you owe it to yourself to pick up DashClock Widget. The app itself already powers up your lock screen with useful notifications and tools, but dozens of great apps and other widgets hook into it to display useful information and give you control over your phone -- all without you having to unlock first.
What Is DashClock Widget?
DashClock Widget is a replacement clock widget for the lock screen in Jelly Bean. By itself, it just makes your clock a little prettier, and it includes some built-in extensions to show your next calendar appointment, missed calls, unread text messages, your next scheduled alarm and unread messages in Gmail (or Priority Inbox). On its own, DashClock Widget already blows the default lock screen out of the water, and we agree with How-To Geek: It's what Android's lock screen widgets should be.
DashClock Widget is a one-click install, although you could spend some time tweaking it and setting it up just the way you like. Once installed, your unlock icon moves to the bottom of the screen, and the entire body of the lock screen is now a scrollable notifications view that can show you as much or as little information as you want. You can even dismiss notifications without unlocking your phone. XDA TV has a great tutorial on getting DashClock set up if you need a little guidance.
Finally, DashClock Widget is open source (the code is available at Google Code) and designed to be extendable. It supports notifications from other apps and allows other app developers to hook into it instead of having to build their own lockscreen widgets. This is a huge benefit, because lots of great apps out there hook into DashClock Widget and add even more great features. Here are a few.
The DashClock Contact Extension allows you to directly dial or SMS any of your phone's contacts or view contact information right on your lock screen. It's especially useful if you see you have a missed call from the boss and want call them back quickly. Similarly, you can view a contact's information, and even their last post to Facebook, Twitter or Google+ (if you have that filled out in their contact card) right on your lock screen.
AnyDash brings notifications for any application you want into DashClock Widget, even if that app doesn't normally support notifications in the dropdown menu. For example, if you use an alternative messaging app and want to see when someone sends you a new message, you can use AnyDash to put it on the lock screen for you. Similarly, you can turn off vibrate or notification bar alerts for the same app but use AnyDash to bring the notifications to the lock screen only.
App Launcher for DashClock, like the name implies, lets you add specific application shortcuts to DashClock so you can launch an app without having to leave the lock screen. It's ideal if you need quick access to a music player when you're on the train or in the car, or if you want to add your camera app to the lock screen.
This battery extension takes the icon in your notifications bar, turns it up a bit and adds useful information to the lock screen. You can see the same animated graphic that shows you your battery status, but it also adds the charge remaining in the minimised view. When expanded, it will show you your battery health, temperature and how much charge is remaining down to the millivolt. If you're plugged in to USB or a wall charger, you'll see the type of power you're getting (AC, USB, etc), whether or not the battery is charging, and how much time you have left until it's fully charged. The extension will even display the amount of time since your last charge, so you can see if your battery is slowly dying and needs to be replaced.
The Now Playing extension displays the currently playing track, artist and album on your phone's lock screen for quick reference. It also supports most Android music players, so you don't have to install a special one just to get the benefit. Even if the app doesn't support the notifications dropdown, Now Playing can still capture the track name. If your phone is locked while you're driving or sitting next to you while you work, you don't have to unlock it to see what's playing. If Now Playing doesn't work for you, try Music, another DashClock extension that works with a number of players (including Google Music).
If you've ever been at a restaurant or store and wished you knew what song was playing over the speakers, you've probably fired up an app like Shazam or SoundHound to find out. Sound Search for DashClock puts all of that right on your phone's lock screen, so you don't even have to unlock to search for the song you're hearing. Tap it, and it will search Google Sound Search, SoundHound and SoundJound Infinity, Shazam and Shazam Encore, TrackID or MusiXmatch (whichever you have installed, or all of them) to identify the song in question. You don't even have to open the app you want to use: the extension handles it for you.
This simple extension puts any RSS feed right on your lock screen. It's ideal if you have a feed you absolutely have to stay on top of, like your favourite blog or breaking news, or an emergency alert feed for your area. The tool displays up to five articles at once and gives you a few feeds to choose from if you need suggestions. You can even customise the refresh interval and the way headlines are displayed.
Check Your Favourite Apps for DashClock Support
Some of your favourite apps may already support DashClock notifications; you just have to enable them in the settings. For example, Falcon Pro, my Android Twitter client of choice these days, supports notifications in DashClock Widget for mentions and direct messages.Plume, another great Twitter client, has its own DashClock extension you can install to get unread tweets, DMs and mentions on your lock screen. Press, an Android RSS feed reader that we think is worth the money, also supports DashClock notifications and shows you an unread article count from your subscribed feeds.
Any.Do, a great to-do manager with a great-looking Android app, also supports DashClock Widget to notify you when you have an item on your list that needs doing. PushBullet, a great way to move files, lists and addresses from your browser to your phone, also supports it. Even Eye In Sky Weather, a weather app that we love, supports DashClock Widget and can replace the default weather notification in the app entirely.
If you want notifications from a particlar app on your lock screen, look through the app's settings. It's entirely possible that it already has support or the developer offers a DashClock Widget extension for download at Google Play. The folks at Droid Life have a great list of DashClock Widget extensions if you're looking for more to try out.