Cyanogen OS

Generally speaking, companies who feel the need to mess with the Android lock screen need to stop. The update to Lollipop this year is a perfect example of how to do a lot of things wrong, from the bizarre way Samsung and LG handle notifications to the variance in how lock screen art is shown, things get messy quick.

The folks behind Cyanogen OS figured out a subtle way to make their lock screen stand out in the crown without messing with the core functionality in this version of Android, and the end result is great. Here's how it works.

Using the Cyanogen OS lock screen is a lot like using a Nexus or Motorola device. You swipe up to unlock the phone, swipe down to access your quick settings, and at the bottom of the screen you have quick launchers for the dialer and camera apps, which launch with swipes away from the icon. When you have notifications in your drawer, the individual cards can either be swiped away or addressed. Double-tapping on the notification will launch the app responsible and take you to the message, and media playback apps will either have play/pause buttons immediately available or allow you to expand the notification with two fingers to access those functions. Like we said, fairly standard stuff.

Cyanogen OS lock screen

Where things get interesting is when you play music. Like most Android lock screens, your background image changes to the album art for whatever you are listening to and you get an actionable notification to interact with that player. Underneath those player controls you'll see an equalizer animation that plays in line with whatever song you are playing. It's a small thing, but if you've got your phone connected to power and have the screen set to never turn off when charging, it's fun to look at. Plus, when coupled with a decent portable speaker and AudioFX, you can show off a little to your friends.