Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker

The acquisition means Microsoft now owns two Android lock-screen apps

Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google's mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Echo replaces the default Android lock screen with a new interface for handling push notifications. The app's marquee feature is its ability to categorize and sort a user's incoming notifications and only wake their phone for high-priority messages. In addition, users can tell the lock screen to remind them of notifications at a later time or in a different place, so they can postpone seeing notifications about personal emails until they get home, for example.

It's not the company's first foray into Android lock screens, either: Microsoft's Garage division put out the Next Lock Screen app last year, which is another take on replacing the default experience for users of Google's mobile platform.

The acquisition, which took place in August but was first reported on Friday, gives Microsoft another beachhead on Android, but it's also aimed at getting Microsoft access to the personalization technology that powers the lock screen's features. Julie Larson-Green, the chief experience officer for Microsoft's "My Life and Work" team, told Business Insider that the work with Next and Echo will translate into information the company will use to improve products like Office and Windows 10.

One of Microsoft's key pillars under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella has been a push to create computing experiences that are more personal and tailored to individual users. By acquiring Echo, Microsoft is picking up more information that it can use to power products like its Cortana virtual assistant, which is currently available in public beta for Android users.

In addition to the two lock-screen apps, Microsoft has a variety of other Android utilities available, including an app launcher currently in private beta, a voice search tool for Bing and an app that provides information about air quality to users in China. It's part of the company's strategy under Nadella to build a wide variety of apps and services for customers across platforms, including those it doesn't directly own.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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