We started Cover a year ago because we believed in two things: 1) the untapped potential of the supercomputers we carry in our pockets, and 2) the amazing power of Android. We built a replacement for Android’s default lockscreen that makes our phones easier to use by adapting to our context – providing fast access to the right apps at the right time.
Since launching Cover in October, we’ve had the privilege of reaching hundreds of thousands of people. We’ve improved Cover with their help and feedback, and demonstrated how Android can help make people’s lives easier.
It’s been an incredible journey, a journey that we’re excited to announce is taking a turn today as we bring the Cover team to Twitter to take these ideas even further.
Twitter, like Cover, believes in the incredible potential of Android. They share our vision that smartphones can be a lot smarter – more useful and more contextual – and together we’re going to make that happen. We’ll be building upon a lot of what makes Cover great, and we’re thrilled to create something even better at Twitter.
So what does this mean for the Cover app? For now, Cover will remain available in the Play Store while we focus our attention on our work at Twitter. If that changes down the road, we’ll provide another update here.
Thanks to all of you who beta tested our app, provided feedback, and helped us build Cover into what it is today. We’re excited for this next chapter and can’t wait for you all to try out what’s next.
– Todd (@tjack), Edward (@mrdonut), Gordon (@getluky), and the Cover Team
We’ve just released Cover Version 0.1.11. If you already have Cover installed, your app should auto-update. This version has two big feature requests: Boosting/dropping and improved location detection.
Boosting & dropping
Cover is designed to deliver the right apps at the right time, wherever you are. The apps that show on Cover are based on automatically learning which apps you use in different contexts – Home, Work, Car, and Out. But one of the top requests we’ve received is the ability to manually influence which apps appear. For example, one person told us he wanted easy access to his flashlight app, no matter how much he actually used it. Another said she always wanted access to Maps in the car, even though she didn’t use Maps every time she drove.
Rather than taking the magic out of automatically learning which apps you use and turning Cover into one giant mess of settings, we decided instead to give people the ability to influence Cover’s natural rankings with “boost” and “drop.” Simply long press on an app icon to bring up the “boost” and “drop” menu. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:
Boosting and dropping works in accordance with your usage. If you boost an app, Cover uses that as a hint that you want it to show in a higher position. If you eventually don’t use that app at all, it will drop off the page. Similarly, you can drop apps that you don’t want to display, but if you use them often they will eventually reappear. If you never want a particular app to show, remember that you can always hide it from Cover settings.
Improved location detection
With Cover, the apps that appear on your lockscreen change based on your context. Cover’s location detection has to be pretty spot on, otherwise it won’t know which apps to show you at home and which apps only make sense at work. At the same time, we don’t want Cover to drain your battery, so we use GPS very sparingly.
After you provide your home and work addresses, Cover creates geofences, or areas, around each address. Your phone tells Cover when you enter and exit those areas. Until now, these geofences were created using Google Play Services. Recently, we’ve been working to make Cover’s location detection better by building our own custom solution for geofencing. Not only should this be more accurate, but it should also use less battery because Cover will only look for confirmation that you’re at home or at work when you’re close to those locations.
In addition, if you’re connected to your work WiFI network, Cover knows that you’re, in fact, at work. However, if that happens to be a flaky connection and you’re constantly dropping in and out of the network, you may have experienced Cover switching back and forth between “work” and “out.” Cover now uses “WiFi fingerprinting” – checking the names of multiple networks around you in addition to the one you’re actually connected to – to provide better resilience in the case of flaky connections. If you work in a dense city there are often ten or more WiFi networks in any given location. If you momentarily drop off the one you’re actually using, Cover can now recognize that the surrounding ones are still there and keep you in “work” mode. In order to do this, we’ve asked for one new Android permission: “Connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi.”
Bottom line: Cover should be better at knowing when you’re home, when you’re at work, and when you’re out, and get you the right apps no matter where you are. Let us know what you think!
We’ve just released Cover Version 0.1.8 with music controls for those of you running KitKat (Android 4.4). Now you can pause, play, and control your music right from Cover.
Cover’s music controls work for just about every music/audio app out there: Google Play Music, Pandora, TuneIn, Spotify, Poweramp, Slacker, Audible, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, Rdio, and many more. When you’re listening to music, whichever music app you use, that app will always be pinned to the bottom of your Cover screen – right next to the controls and info about the track you’re listening to. You can peek to open straight to your music app. Music controls have been one of our most popular feature requests, so we’re excited to make them available.
To enable music controls, you’ll need grant “Notification access” to Cover. This lets Cover know which track is playing. You can do this from your phone’s settings (we’ve also provided a shortcut from Cover’s settings):
One caveat is that these music controls only work on phones running KitKat (Android 4.4). We tried hard to get music controls working well on earlier versions of Android, but versions 4.1-4.3 don’t provide us with a standard way to access which music app is playing, track names, or album art. Most importantly, we weren’t able to get basic pause/play/rewind/fast forward actions to work reliably across different apps. Many of the music apps and widgets available on Google Play suffer from similar issues. We want Cover to be reliable and high quality, so we didn’t want to go the same route. Google added the necessary APIs to get things working reliably with KitKat, so we’re making music controls available to people with that version. Fortunately, we think most people will get access to KitKat within the next couple months (when Samsung, HTC and others release their next set of updates).
In addition to music controls, we added a small feature that lets you slide Cover open directly to your home screen. This is a handy shortcut when you want to go straight to your home screen rather than to the last app you were using.
If you already have Cover installed you should get an auto-update soon. We hope you enjoy these new features – let us know what you think!
Just in time for the holidays: An updated version of Cover
We’ve just released Version 0.1.5 of Cover on Google Play. If you already have Cover installed, the app should auto-update.
In this version we’ve added:
Ability to hide apps. By popular request, you can now prevent certain apps from showing on your Cover lockscreen. This is useful for apps that you don’t need quick access to or don’t want other people to see on your lockscreen. Go to Settings > Preferences > Hidden Apps and you’ll see this:
Transparent top status bar on KitKat. If you’re running Android 4.4, Cover’s status bar is now transparent. When you peek at an app with a black status bar, like Gmail or Chrome, the bar will fade from transparent to black as you peek. Also, you may notice that the bottom navigation bar is not transparent – that’s something we’re still working on.
Fixes for Hangouts’ unread count. If you use Hangouts as your default SMS app, the Hangouts unread count now only includes recent messages you’ve received in the last 24 hours. For more detailed info, read this help page.
Fixes for common crashes, battery problems, and a few bugs.
We also added a prompt to give feedback on Cover, so keep your thoughts coming and we’ll keep making improvements to the app.
One of the most common questions we’ve heard is “I’m running a custom launcher – will it work with Cover?” The answer is yes! Check out this video to see it in action:
As you can see in the video, because Cover is a lockscreen, it works well with many different launchers. The video shows Nova Launcher, Themer, and Aviate. Cover works with these launchers and many more.
We hope you enjoy pairing Cover with your favorite launcher! Let us know what you think.
Cover is now publicly available on Google Play for everyone with Android 4.1+ in the US, Canada and Europe. It’s 100% free.
Over the last six weeks of beta testing, we’ve made 100+ improvements to Cover, including:
Optimized battery usage (for most people, Cover isn’t among the top 10 battery-consuming apps on their phone)
Improved car detection accuracy (motion-sensing algorithms)
Added compatibility with KitKat, Nexus 5, new ART runtime for Android
When peeking and switching between apps, Cover now perfectly maintains state within each app
Added tutorials on fast app-switching, how to set custom wallpapers/ring volume, how to use Cover with a security code (PIN/Pattern)
More customization options (e.g. configure size and location of app tray target)
Ability to share your Cover setup on Facebook/Twitter/Google+
Thanks so much for your patience – we hope the improvements that we’ve made over the last six weeks will make your first impression of Cover even better.
Install Cover on Google Play
Thanks so much for your enthusiasm!
– Todd, Ed, and Gordon (the Cover Team)
* If you’re outside the US/Canada/Europe or your device is not supported yet, Cover will be available in early 2014. However, if you don’t want to wait and are very adventurous, you can help test an experimental version of Cover.
One of the most common questions we’ve heard is “does Cover work with my PIN code or security pattern?” The answer is yes! Check out this video to see what it’s like in action:
As you see, Cover integrates with Android’s PIN/pattern system to give you the right apps at the right time while still maintaining your phone’s security. If you have a security code on your phone and slide open an app from Cover, you’ll be prompted to unlock your phone before the app opens.
To get the best experience when using Cover with a security code, we recommend that you set a short timeout period on your code (e.g. 5 or 10 minutes). That way, you can still use Cover’s true “peek” feature without sacrificing much in the way of security.
We’ve just finished sending out the first 5,000 invitations to Cover. Thank you so much for your patience as we roll things out. We want to make sure that each and every one of you has a great experience with Cover, so we’ve started slowly by inviting people who are running recent versions of Android on newer phones. Our intention, though, is to soon support any version of Android 2.3 and above.
We’ll be gradually sending out more invitations over the coming weeks, with the next 10,000 going out next week – so if you haven’t received an invitation yet, you should soon. Invitations are being sent via our Google+ Community (using Google Play’s new beta rollout system), so make sure your email address is connected to Google+.
Thanks again for your patience, enthusiasm and feedback!
– Todd, Ed, and Gordon
Cover: Hands-on video demo
Introducing Cover: The right apps at the right time
Thanks so much for all the interest in Cover! We’re super excited by the number of sign-ups we’ve received, and we’ll start rolling out invitations over the next several weeks.
In the meantime, here’s a hands-on video demoing Cover’s four main features:
The right apps at the right time
Jumping directly between apps
Again, we’ll be sending out invitations over the next several weeks – thanks so much for your interest and your patience. We want to bring each and every one of you a great Cover experience, so we’re rolling out slowly as we make sure the app is working well.
Todd, Ed, and Gordon (https://www.coverscreen.com/team)
The fastest way to get to the right apps at the right time
Today, we’re thrilled to announce Cover for Android. Cover is a replacement for your default lockscreen – it brings you the right apps at the right time, wherever you are.
We have tons and tons of apps. And most of us don’t have time to organize them. Plus, apps can be pretty context-specific: we check weather and email in the morning, use calendar and make phone calls at work, and look at maps in the car. Cover brings the right apps up to your lockscreen and lets you launch them effortlessly with a swipe:
How does Cover work?
Cover learns which apps you use throughout your day and in the different places you use your phone. It automatically knows when you’re at home or work and recognizes when you’re driving, then learns which apps you use most in each context.
There’s barely anything to set up or configure. Just give it your home and work addresses and everything else works automatically. Cover automatically feels the motion of your car using your phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope. No more fumbling to get to maps or music!
We started Cover because we think that despite being amazing little computers, our smartphones can actually be a lot smarter. They can know us better. They can learn who we are and adapt to our unique needs. We want to help make that happen.
We also believe in the amazing potential of Android. Quite literally, we couldn’t have built Cover on any other mobile platform. Android’s open nature allows anyone to rethink how a phone should behave, and its thriving ecosystem makes us believe that it will soon become the phone of choice for several billion people. We’re not just an Android-first company – we’re an Android-only company. All of us used to be passionate iPhone users, and we’re humbled by the opportunity to bring an iOS-level of design, polish, and craftsmanship to the world’s biggest mobile platform.
Get an invitation to Cover
Cover is currently in an invite-only beta, as we work hard to ramp up our servers and improve our learning algorithms. You can sign up at www.coverscreen.com. Thanks so much for trying our beta – we hope you have as much fun using Cover as we’ve had building it.
Todd, Ed, and Gordon (https://www.coverscreen.com/team)