This advertising company is working with US operators to take over your lock screen

July 5, 2022

Glance lock screen example hero

Apple has introduced one brand new version of the iPhone lock screen for the next version of iOS. The operating system now allows you to customize the lock screen with preferred fonts, colors, and there is even a parallax effect where the watch can be partially hidden behind a subject in the image. We've been hoping that Google would take some inspiration for Android from its competitor, and even though it's still an option for Android 14, it looks like Android users in the US may have a completely different lock screen experience. An advertising company supported by Google called Glance plans to launch in the US, and it brings media content, news and everyday games to Android lock screens.

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If you are not familiar with Glance, you can count yourself happy. The lock screen platform is part of the pre-installed software on many, if not most, Android phones sold in India and other Asian markets, and it has also made its way to the EU on a few selected brands. Glance says that since it was launched in 2019, it has become part of over 400 million smartphones sold. The service has taken on the task of making money on the lock screen, pushing news and ad feeds straight into people's faces before they even unlock their phones. It is a subsidiary of the Indian advertising giant InMobi, which focuses on mobile first ads.

Glance thinks its approach to lock screens is better than Apple's

According to a TechCrunch report, the service looks set to launch in the US within the next two months. The company is negotiating with US operators to explore partnerships and to be part of the out-of-the-box experience of “more smartphone models for next month.” Unlike Asia, where the company works directly with smartphone manufacturers, Glance seems to focus on operators in the US. This makes sense given the iron grip that mobile operators have in the smartphone market.

Based on my experience with Glance on some Vivo review units (like Vivo X80 Pro), the lock screen flow tries to become part of your routine. Occasional messages and swipe suggestions on the lock screen push you to interact with it. When you give up and open the flow, it will override your lock screen background with its contents, allowing you to manually switch back to your preferred background.

To me in Germany, the feed does not seem to be very valuable at all. It shows only a few cured images, with some possibly sponsored (although this is not revealed). There are pictures of vehicles from Mercedes or the electric car manufacturer NIO, all kinds of athletes and celebrities, some movie and series promotions, some generic still lifes and more, but it's not too wild or even something you would like to use on a regular basis.

In India, the situation seems to be different, with more obvious ads, a lot of news and even live videos dominating the platform. Som Blick proudly proclaims in his blog, more than 200 million people engage in its service in India and consume content such as movie trailers, music videos, sports updates, travel tips, food recipes, everyday games and car news directly on their lock screens. It's basically Google Discover on steroids, directly on your lock screen that you can swipe left and right for an endless stream of content. All this content is then further adapted to users depending on how and how much they interact with it – much like TikTok. The service is widely available on phones from Samsung, Motorola, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Realme.

As for the launch in the US, there are no words on exactly what the flow will look like. We expect a healthy middle ground between the Indian and European versions in the beginning so as not to discourage people, although it would not be surprising if the company quickly turns things around given that consumer protection is weaker in the US than in the US EU. One thing is for sure: Entering the US market will allow Glance to access users with more money to spend than many in Asian countries. This should allow Glance to ask advertisers for higher prices, allowing the company to grow even faster.

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