The lock screen in Android 5.0 Lollipop is a strange beast. Google has done away with the lock screen widgets, which never really caught on, and replaced them with notifications.
At the same time, there are multiple new ways of securing the lock screen and keeping your personal data private. The options to do all this are scattered throughout the settings, because Google apparently likes to keep us on our toes. Here’s how to get it all set up.
Tune your notifications
This first step will be familiar to long-time Android users. Go into the main system settings and find the Security menu. From there, change the screen lock type to something other than swipe—PIN, pattern, password, or whatever you want. Remember that if your device is encrypted you’ll need to enter this code when starting up.
Where things take an unexpected turn is after setting the code, you will be asked what sort of notifications you want available on the lock screen. You can choose to have them all shown, only non-sensitive content, and none. Don’t worry—this is not an irrevocable choice. You can go into the Sound and Notification menu at any time to change this global setting.
So what does "sensitive content" mean, anyway? You can pick any app to set its notifications as sensitive, which will prevent any of its notification text from appearing on the lock screen. There are a few ways to reach the right menu. The easiest way to manage multiple apps is to go into Sound and Notifications and scroll to the bottom. This is where you’ll find the option to change the global notification security mentioned above, but we’re looking for the App Notifications line.
The App Notifications list shows all your installed apps. Simply select the ones you want to set as sensitive, set the Sensitive switch to the on position, and your secrets will be safe. You'll still get notifications, but they'll just say, for example, that you have 2 new emails, rather than listing the subject lines. You can also access an app’s notification settings by long-pressing on one of its notifications and tapping the info button that appears. This gets you to the same menu in a single tap.
Smarter Smart Lock
Maybe you noticed the lack of face unlock in the security options. That’s because Google has completely revamped that feature as part of the new Smart Lock system. There are currently three features in Smart Lock—trusted devices, trusted face, and trusted places. That last one is still rolling out via a Google Play Services update, though. All these options are used to bypass your pin, pattern, or password, temporarily defaulting back to the simple swipe-up unlock gesture.
Trusted devices lets you specify a Bluetooth device or NFC tag that will keep the phone unlocked when the phone is connected to it. Trusted face takes the place of face unlock, but the setup process is much the same. You position the viewfinder so it can see your face and wait a moment. When you wake the phone, it can look for your face in the background while you check out the notifications on the lock screen. If it spots you, the lock screen switches on the fly to a simple swipe. You'll see the little padlock icon at the bottom change to show that it's unlocked. It’s very clever.
The last option, trusted places, has toggles for your home and work addresses (if you’ve set them in Google Maps) but you can also add a manual location. If you’re in that area, the phone will remain unlocked. Should the phone leave that geofence, the secure lock screen reasserts itself. This and the other Smart Lock options can be temporarily disabled by pressing the lock icon at the bottom of the lock screen. That will force a secure unlock the next time the phone is used.
Google has vastly expanded your options in Android 5.0, and it can be a little intimidating, Just take a few minutes and set everything up so you can properly enjoy the peace of mind it brings. With the right settings, you can have a more secure phone and make it faster and easier to use.