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!