What if the secret to getting a smartphone owner to read a news story was to display it on the lock screen? This is the approach that Indian app Glance is taking. The app offers its users wallpaper stories that let them discover the latest news at a glance.
Whether we admit it or not, we look at our phones a lot. Fifty-eight times a day to be precise, according to the site Elite Content Marketer . While health experts are encouraging us to stop looking at our smartphones so much for the sake of our well-being, some start-ups like Glance are using this "bad habit" to get us up to date on the latest news.
Since 2019, the company has been feeding lock screens with interactive content related to news as well as sports, pop culture and video games. It's a formula that seems to be working since Glance claims more than 150 million active users in India and 25 million in Southeast Asia.
And the firm isn't content to stop there. The startup announced in late October that it will collaborate with manufacturer Realme to power the lock screens of its phones with multilingual, personalized content. The partnership should see it deployed on nearly 30 million smartphones in India and 7 million in Indonesia, by the end of next year.
Winning the battle for attention
"[realme] is especially popular amongst the youth, who form the majority of Glance's user base. Given its demographic and technological strengths, we believe that realme is a great partner for us to make further inroads into these markets with," stated Aditya Goyal, Vice President & General Manager, Strategic Distribution Partnerships, Glance, in a press release.
Surveys suggest that most young Asians follow the news on their cell phones. This is the case for 86% of Indonesians between 25 and 34 years old and 72% of Indians of the same age, according to the latest edition of the "Digital News" report from the Reuters Institute. But they don't necessarily go to news sites to do so: many of them consult platforms like Facebook and YouTube to get information or stumble upon certain news stories in their group chats on WhatsApp -- a phenomenon that is not without danger when it comes to the reliability of the news they see.
Displaying quality news sources on the lock screen of phones could allow more people to follow the news in an effortless way. "In the battle for attention, news inevitably should come to users, not the other way around," writes Christine Franciska, managing editor at Glance Indonesia and researcher at Reuters Institute, in a report . Other start-ups like upday are on the same page and are also increasingly partnering with smartphone manufacturers to be pre-installed on their new models. It remains to be seen whether or not phone owners will remove them as soon as the opportunity arises.