Microsoft new Picturesque app takes another stab at the Android lock screen, this time with images, news, weather, and search from Bing.
Much like Microsoft’s previous Next Lock Screen app, Picturesque replaces your phone’s default lock screen. But instead of emphasizing quick links to various tasks, the new app is all about serving up information. Background images come from Bing, and you can cycle between them by shaking the phone or swiping to the right.
Picturesque also provides a glance at news headlines, calendar appointments and the weather, and includes some quick toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, audio and the flashlight. Missed call and message notifications will appear on the lock screen as well, with the option to quickly reply. And of course, there’s a shortcut to the phone’s camera from the main screen.
Both Picturesque and Next Lock Screen are projects of Microsoft Garage, an effort within the company to create small-scale, experimental apps. In addition to the alternative lock screens, other Android projects include the Journeys & Notes diary app and a Bing search tool for Android Wear smartwatches called Torque.
The story behind the story: Though Microsoft has been no stranger to Android lately, Google’s increasingly tight control over the operating system makes it hard to integrate services like Bing. (Years ago, some phones had Bing pre-loaded, but this practice has largely stopped, to Microsoft’s dismay.) Picturesque may be experimental, but it’s also a workaround, putting Microsoft’s search engine front and center from the moment users turn on their phones. Whether people actually want this is another question entirely.