App Spotlight, Episode 6 - Gravity Screen - On / Off

It's been quite some time since I did an app spotlight. This time I'm highlighting an app which I think, is one of those apps that puts the "smart" in "smartphone". If you read my post about the things I like and dislike about the Nexus 5, you'll remember that I said one of the things I disliked was the power button being on the right side of the device, because I'm left handed. However that wasn't a huge problem, largely due to this app I'm using, called Gravity Screen - On / Off. I started using it on my One X, and continued using it immediately once I got my Nexus 5. What it does is basically turn your screen on or off, depending on the situation your device is in. In the couple of months I've used it, it's been an excellent experience, which I will share with you in this post.

Like I said, I've used this app for quite some time now, and I'm extremely satisfied with it. It does what it's supposed to do, and it does it well. It also has many settings which will allow you to adjust how it works so it can complement your style of usage. The way I use it is quite straight forward, I put my phone in my pocket when I'm moving around, and when I do the screen goes off. If uses a combination of the accelerometer (or gyroscope I'm not sure) to determine if it's upside down, and the proximity sensor to determine if it's in a pocket. Just turning the phone upside down for instance won't turn the screen off. You need to cover the proximity sensor for the screen to turn off. Taking my phone out of my pocket instantly turns the screen back on, again both the accelerometer and proximity sensor will determine when the phone is taken out and upright again.

The pocket and table sensors are the main
features of the app and work brilliantly.
I also use it to turn the screen on and off by placing it on a surface like a table or my bed. When the phone is face down, again with the aid of the same sensors, the screen will turn off. The screen will turn back on the moment you turn the phone right side up. If you don't like placing your phone face down on a surface, the screen can also be turned on by motion from a face-up position. So you place your phone face-up on the table, and just tilt it up a bit to see the time for example, and the screen will turn on.

video

Another feature is the ability to keep the screen on when you are using it, over-riding the system timeout setting. This is like Smart Stay on Galaxy devices, but instead of the camera looking for your eyes, the screen stays on as long as the device is in motion (like in your hand). No more tapping the screen when you are reading an article on the web to keep the screen on.

There are many settings in the app to help you control how the app works. For example the ability to turn the screen on from a face-up position by motion is great if you're in the office, but not if you're in a moving car. If you are like me and you keep your phone between your legs when you drive or on the dashboard somewhere, the constant movement of the car will keep the screen on. Luckily there is a setting which if enabled, will kill the motion sensor if the screen is off when the phone is lying face up. This allows the app to still work if you place it face down, and it won't turn the screen on when you leave it face up in your car. Other than that, you can also adjust the timeout of the app, so if the phone is face down for a certain period of time, all sensors turn off to save battery, you can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor, and even the angle which determines when the phone is in a pocket or face down on a surface. You can basically control every aspect of the app with the settings provided.
Some of the settings in the app.
Lastly, the most important aspect and probably what everyone will be wondering, battery drain. Does the app use up the battery? Obviously it does. Any app that is in action will use the battery. Is the drain significant? Absolutely not. I've used it for weeks, and whenever I check my battery stats at the end of the day, the app is never in the list of top battery consumers. There are some features which drain more battery than others, but the dev clearly says which features do in the settings menu. So if you follow the devs recommendations, you won't notice any sufficient battery drain from the app.

So there you go. One app to make your smartphone smarter. Using it to turn my phone on and off without me needing to press the power button has been a wonderful experience. It works extremely well, and has many tweaks for you to adjust. It's also a cool app for you to show off to your friends. Leave your phone on the table, and turn the screen on just by picking it up. That's a smart smartphone.

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