A wide array of cases are available for nearly every Android phone, but most of them are profoundly boring. HTC's Dot View case for the M9 is unique, though. It's a flip case that protects the screen, but the matrix of pinholes allows the screen to shine through and deliver messages.
It also has deep integration with the software and a number of cool customization options. The Dot View case is a little pricey, but it can be worth it if you take advantage of all it has to offer.
Notifications and calls
You can double tap on the closed Dot View cover to see the time, weather, and any pending notifications. That's neat, but you can also interact with your notifications, which is not immediately obvious. Tapping only works to wake the screen and put it back to sleep. To control your notifications, you need to swipe.
You can swipe up on a notification icon (shown at the bottom of the screen) to open it. This will prompt you to open the cover so the app can be launched automatically. Swiping down dismisses a notification and advances to the next one. The same thing works with audio playback controls, but you can swipe in either direction on the play, forward, and rewind buttons to trigger them.
These features will only work if you have the Dot View service enabled in your notification settings. Head to Settings > Sound & notification > Notification access to make sure Dot View notifications and music controls are activated.
In the Dot View app, you should consider enabling Show call history and the ambiguously named Bypass screen security settings. This gives you access to recent calls from the Dot View case, even with a secure lock screen. Simply swipe in any direction on the case after waking it up to see the three most recent calls. You can swipe up on any of them to place a call without even opening the cover. Should you receive any calls (people still use phones as phones sometimes, I'm told), you can swipe up on the closed case to answer or down to reject. It will show you who's calling in typical pixelated Dot View fashion.
HTC has included a few neat Dot View themes, which you can switch between by opening the Dot View app in your app drawer. The default setting is one of the live themes, which you can find in the far right tab. These animate when you wake up the phone in Dot View mode. There are a few more live themes you can choose from included with the app.
HTC also includes holiday themes for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, and more. You can activate these at any time, if Christmas in July is your thing. Otherwise they turn on automatically at the appropriate time of year. This can be disabled in the settings if you're not feeling festive.
Over in the far left tab in your Dot View app you'll find all the themes that you've downloaded. Yes, the Sense theme store includes Dot View themes. Some full themes come with their own matching Dot View images, but there are some standalone ones in there too. Make sure you peruse the selection by using the slide-out navigation menu to select HTC Dot View.
If none of your other options seem quite right, you can create your own Dot View theme by tapping the plus button at the top of the My Themes section. You've got the option of using any image on your device as a base or taking a new picture with the camera. The Dot View screen is essentially a very low-resolution pixelated version of an image, so you shouldn't use anything with too much detail.
You've got one more option for Dot View themes—a customization app.
HTC has released a few apps for the Dot View case, some of which aren't bundled with the phone. So far there is Dot Design and Dot Breaker that you can get from the Play Store. Dot Message should already be on the phone.
Dot Design lets you create new Dot View themes by drawing on the screen. You can choose from a number of templates and fill them in, draw freehand, or use another image on your phone as a starting point. Dot Message lets you create a scrolling text banner that is visible through the Dot View cover. Simply type your message, choose a color, set the speed, and hit the play button and close the cover. There might not be a ton of utility there, but it's fun to play with.
Dot Breaker is an unusual one--it's a game. A Breakout clone, actually. You start it from the Dot View app, then close the cover to play. The paddle is controlled by tilting the device left and right to keep the ball in play. There are 20 levels, each with a different configuration of blocks to clear. Perhaps HTC will eventually offer more apps for additional customization to make the Dot View case more interesting, but this is all we've got so far.
The Dot View case retails for $39.99 for the "premium" version that's one color all the way around. The "Ice" version is $49.99 and has a transparent plastic back so you can still see the aluminum frame of the phone. You can usually find them a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, though.