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Android

Ads might be coming to Android lock screens but you are still in control

By Roland Udvarlaki July 7, 2022, 9:15 am
Glance lock screen ads Source: Glance

Android has always offered unique ways for users to customize their lock screens and just about every other aspect of their devices. Apple also recently announced massive changes to the iPhone’s lockscreen in iOS 16. If you're interested, we have also gone hands-on with the iOS 16 lock screen changes in a dedicated article.

According to a report from Techcrunch, Glance, a subsidiary of ad tech company InMobi, is planning to launch a lock screen platform for Android smartphones in the US. The launch is expected to happen within two months and could change how you unlock your Android smartphone.

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A source familiar with the matter told_Techcrunch_ that Glance is in talks with wireless carriers in the US. Partnerships with carriers could mean that the lock screen application could be pre-installed and bundled on sold devices. If this was to happen, it could mean that advertisers could display sponsored messages, app recommendations, and just about any media content on the lock screen.

Glance advertisement categories and types Source: Glance

For those unaware, Glance brings games, travel information, daily changing wallpapers, fun facts, fitness ideas, entertainment (such as viral videos), information about sports events, and other sponsored messages and media to the lock screen. The company has direct partnerships with leading smartphone manufacturers, including vivo, Motorola, Xiaomi, OPPO, realme, and Samsung. It’s also worth mentioning that these partnerships exist in Asia, and Glance is already pre-loaded on most devices, hence why it only needs to be enabled manually.

Since the partnerships exist in Asia, Glance likely wants to convince and presumably, split some of the profits by including it on devices sold in the US. The company is backed by high-profile investors, including Google, and there’s a real possibility that it could be the “one more thing” that you’ll want to turn off when you set up your new gadget.

Ads on devices aren’t new

Amazon sells its Kindle tablets with advertisements, although the company allows customers to purchase tablets without ads for a heftier price tag. Unsurprisingly, Amazon sells many devices each year containing ads, since most people usually prefer the cheaper option. Fortunately, the “Special Offers” can be removed after purchase, but it’ll require a payment.

Samsung also displayed advertisements on its premium smartphones and tablets up until last year. It received many negative comments and a user backlash, which prompted the company to remove the ads.

Glance Android phone partners Source: Glance

We don’t know how Glance’s implementation could work, but there’s a chance that users could stay in control, assuming the option is turned off by default, and it can be removed and uninstalled manually. If the option was turned on by default, it could frustrate a lot of users, but it would likely earn Glance a nice sum, since the non-tech-savvy customers would probably keep the setting enabled.

On the other hand, the beauty of Android is that it’s fully customizable, and users would have the option to flash a new ROM on any of their devices. It would require a few additional steps and some time, but it would allow power users to unlock the full potential of their devices. That being said, it’s worth mentioning that OEMs have started restricting and limiting access to unlocking bootloaders and providing easy access to users. It’s no longer as easy as it once used to be. There are several workarounds, many third-party custom launchers, and lock screen providers, and some offer nearly stock Android features and looks.

Nothing’s lost yet, but we’ll have to wait for Glance’s strategy and implementation first. We can only hope that carriers will say no to enabling ad-filled lock screens by default on new devices, and that it will not be intrusive to the point where users will complain about the feature left and right.

What do you think of Glance’s flashy, ad-filled lock screen application? Would you disable it immediately after setting up and activating your new smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

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