Notifications come with a sense of urgency, like they’re screaming, “This thing needs your attention now!” Sometimes, this alert is helpful, but if you’d like to address it at a later time. Echo is a new lockscreen app that lets you snooze notifications and bounce them back later.
There is another cool aspect to this app. Instead of a barrage of notifications staring you in the face, Echo puts them into groups or categories, as assigned by you. This way, when you are working, you can ignore those social network updates but see only alerts about emails or calendar notifications.
These two features set Echo apart and would be worthy of a paid app. But right now, since it’s in beta, it’s completely free to download. That makes this a contender for the best free lockscreen replacement apps for Android.
Remind Notifications To Return When You Need
Echo’s most impressive feature, at least for me, is the ability to snooze notifications so that you get them when the time is right. There are a few options in this too, divided by place or time.
Place-based notifications work on your Wi-Fi settings. You can set a “Home” Wi-Fi and a “Work” Wi-Fi — that connection tells Echo where you are. If both aren’t connected and you’re on 3G, Echo recognises that as “Out”.
Time-based notifications are self-explanatory. You can set a notification to be bounced back in one hour, the next morning, or in 24 hours.
The feature is similar to how Boomerang snoozes email for later. To activate it, short-swipe right on a notification and choose your option.
Group Notifications In Categories Or Mute Them
If you long-swipe right on any alert, you’ll bring up a menu to select a category. There are six options: Automatic, Priority, Social, Media, Work, and Other. Pick one and all updates from that app will now show up in that category on the lockscreen. You can also head to Echo’s settings and manually assign apps to categories.
There is also an option to choose “Do Not Show” for any app, so that all updates from that app will be ignored. This is quite useful if you use multiple apps for the same purpose; for instance, I use two email apps, one of which is not important but gets a lot of mail. Applying the “Do Not Show” to that clears up clutter.
Echo has a smart feature where it will wake up your screen only if a notification falls under a “Priority” app section. For any other update, it won’t wake up your device. Once you set up the Priority category for the apps you want, this has a great benefit — you know that if your phone has woken up, it’s a notification that deserves your attention.
On the main lockscreen, the category headers are listed one below the other, along with the number of alerts; tap on any and it expands to show all the notifications for that section. It’s a clean view, and you can quickly dismiss any notification by swiping left.
What About Security?
Echo does not have a built-in lock mechanism, whether PIN, pattern, or anything else. And as we have noted before, these are important to improve your Android lockscreen security.
Instead, Echo relies on your device’s built-in locking mechanism, available in the Settings menu. What this means is that when you switch on the display, Echo will show the notifications. If you slide to unlock, you will then get your normal lock; unlock that to access your device. Not only does it feel like an unnecessary step, but it also means that anyone can see your notifications whether or not they have your PIN.
That said, it’s not a dealbreaker, especially if you don’t use locks any way. For all that it offers, and given that it’s free, Echo is worth downloading.
Download: Echo Notification Lockscreen (Free) [No Longer Available]
Do You Use Android Passwords?
I’ve never bothered locking my primary Android device, mainly because the hassle of keying in a PIN each time is too much given how often I switch the screen off and on. Plus, there’s nothing super-private on there anyway. But there are enough people who want a lock mechanism for their phone.
Do you use a PIN for your Android? Maybe you prefer to lock individual apps instead? What’s your take on device locking?
Image credit: Yuri Samoilov
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