Getting started with lock screen widgets on Android Jelly Bean

Lock screen widgets have arrived on Android with the release of Android 4.2. We take a quick look at how they work.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Earlier this week Google released a new line of Nexus devices along with a small update to the Android operating system itself. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean includes a few new features for both smartphones and tablets alike.

One of the new features included in Android 4.2 is the addition of widgets to the lock screen. These widgets (a total of five currently available) provide a preview of your inbox, the clock, messages, calendar, or a shortcut to your camera and a widget to quickly identify a song.

You'll, of course, need to be running Android 4.2 in order to have access to the widgets. That is, until developers figure out how to get it working on other Android versions, if they haven't already.

When you first wake the screen on your Android device, you'll see a white line on either side of the screen. I wasn't fast enough to get a screenshot of the lines flashing on the screen shortly after you wake the device. They're there, then they're not. The lines indicate there's more information on either side of the main screen.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Placing your finger on the right edge of the screen and swiping to the left will take you into the Camera app.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Going from the opposite edge and swiping to the right will allow you to add widgets or allow you to view any widgets you've already added.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To add a widget to your lock screen, slide the screen from left-to-right until you get to the card with a plus sign on it. Tapping the plus sign will reveal list of available widgets. Select any widget you'd like to add to your home screen by tapping it.

Should you want to rearrange the widgets, you can tap and hold, then drag the widget to the spot you'd prefer. If you want to remove one, just drag it to the Remove text at the top of the screen. The widget will turn red once you're OK to lift your finger.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Digital Clock widget is the only widget (as far as I have been able to tell) that's adjustable. You can increase the size of the widget, revealing any world clocks you've added to the Clock app below the current time.

The lock screen widgets are a great idea, but they can't help but raise some privacy concerns. Even if you have to unlock your device with a pattern or PIN, some information is still revealed by the Gmail or Messaging widgets. Keep your privacy in mind when enabling either of those widgets.