October 16, 2013 12:06 pm

Glance Background is bringing some ‘wow’

At Nokia we want people to be able to personalise their Lumia phones whether it’s through colourful covers, customised Start Screens or simply by changing what’s displayed on their glance screen.

The Nokia Amber update added the ability to show a clock and some other notifications to the otherwise blank glance screen that’s shown when your Lumia is inactive. But with Nokia Glance Background app (currently in beta) you can take personalisation to a new level by setting an image of your choice as the background.

This is how it looks:

Glance-Screen_01

Martin Jansky, senior product manager at Nokia, says that the Glance Background beta is part of a broader vision.

“We want to help people customise their phones. Make them personal and also stand out. That’s something Nokia is famous for – and we’re going to keep those things coming.

“We realised we could use the same technology we use for functional features (such as the clock and notifications) to also offer personalisation on the glance screen. We had a hunch that being able to set an image as the background was something Lumia owners would appreciate, and the initial feedback has proven us right!”

“And you haven’t heard the last of improvements to the Glance screen,” he hints.

Power games

Glance-Screen_02

There were technical challenges, though. Showing an image when the phone is otherwise ‘off’ created two issues that had to be overcome.

First, every active pixel creates extra drain on the battery. So Martin and his colleagues worked at optimising how the image would be displayed. For example every second vertical pixel is removed on LCD screens, to cut down on the power used. On AMOLED screens, horizontal pixels were also removed to further aid with power consumption.

Second, there was a risk of screen burn – the background image creating a permanent ‘after-image’ on the display. To resolve this, the displayed pixels are alternated every hour to the ones that are otherwise turned off, so that pixel burn won’t happen. This has quite a happy consequence. The image used for the background almost looks as though it’s on another, lower level than the clock figures. Less pixels = less light = it looks further away.

Beta feedback

The team is keen to get some beta test feedback. Are you using it and how do you like it? And what else would you like to see on your glance screen in future?