Twitter Buys Android Lock Screen App 'Cover'

Twitter is acquiring Cover, an Android app that allows users to customize smartphone lock screens for an undisclosed sum.

In a blog post Monday, the startup's founders stated that Twitter also believes in the potential of Android and shares the vision that smartphones can be smarter, more useful and more contextual. “We’ll be building upon a lot of what makes Cover great, and we're thrilled to create something even better at Twitter,” it stated.

In terms of providing context, the Cover app will offer quick access to apps based on user history and other information. That means in the lock screen it might show Twitter, Instagram, email and news-focused apps if those are the most relevant for someone checking their phone in the morning.

While it's not entirely clear how Twitter will use Cover, the move signals an intent to have a stronger presence on Android devices. Overall, more than 75% of users access the microblogging service via mobile, and Android runs on the majority of smartphones worldwide.

Meshach Cisero, an analyst with BIA/Kelsey, likened the acquisition to Facebook's rollout of Home, a software layer for Android phones. “That effort has been somewhat anemic so far for Facebook, but Twitter clearly sees some opportunity in a parallel effort,” he wrote. That's putting it mildly. Home was a total flop. 

Cisero also suggested that Twitter might use Cover as a way to generate revenue through app discovery and promotion. “Twitter could leverage the app by suggesting third party apps for the right occasion that users haven’t downloaded or purchased yet,” he stated. News of the deal followed a Wall Street Journal report Monday indicating that Twitter plans to introduce up to 15 new types of ads. It's already beta-testing an app-install ad unit.

For now, Cover said its app will remain available in the Google PlayStore, while the company focuses on working at Twitter. Since launching in October, the app has reached “hundreds of thousands” of people, according to the Cover blog post. The PlayStore estimates installs in the range of 100,00 to 500,000. 

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