Twitter Buys Lock-screen Startup Cover. But Why?

Monday witnessed yet another interesting acquisition- Twitter buying an Android-exclusive lock screen app, Cover. It’s Twitter’s first android specific acquisition.  

 Cover is a unique Android lock screen that analyzes your smartphone using pattern and the context of use (whether at home, office or while driving) and then, on the basis of this analysis, displays the six apps that you are most likely to use at a particular time. So, at work you’ll get an easy access to dropbox and calendar. When you’re driving, the map is at your fingertips. It’s launched by former Google employees in October 2013 and since then it’s being used by “hundreds of thousands”. The app has also received great reviews.  

 “Twitter, like Cover, believes in the incredible potential of Android. They share our vision that smartphones can be a lot smarter — more useful and more contextual — and together we’re going to make that happen,” wrote Cover’s founders in a blog post declaring the acquisition. “We’ll be building upon a lot of what makes Cover great, and we’re thrilled to create something even better at Twitter.” The terms of the deals have not been spilled yet and the app is still available in the Play Store. “If that changes down the road, we’ll provide another update here,” said the founders Todd Jackson, Gordon Luk and Edward Ho in the company blog post. Twitter posted a confirmation tweet but did not go into the details.  

 Facebook last year attempted something along these lines with the launch of Facebook Home. The initiative didn’t work out as well as the social network might have expected though, but the intent was clear – controlling the lockscreens.  Though both Twitter and Cover chose not to disclose how the technology might be used by the social network, many believe that Twitter is taking bigger steps towards mobile. Over 75% of Twitter users access the service through mobile devices. When hundreds of apps compete for a user’s attention, the acquisition could help keep Twitter top of mind.  

Why Did Twitter Buy Cover ?

Ingrid Lundin of Techcrunch says “Apps are an overcrowded game. So owning the lockscreen gives you, effectively, a place to be first in the queue. It also gives Twitter some interesting potential routes for how it might longer-term try to deliver its stream of followers’ new and messages outside of its own app. Widgets featuring Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other streams are already quite common; Cover could work on ways to formalise and improve that experience.” Zdnet says “The acquisition indicates that Twitter is keen to make its popular one-to-many messaging service more enticing to people with smartphones powered by Google-backed Android software.” The Verge is looking at the acquisition from different perspectives – Since the app is going to remain available in the Play Store, “It’s likely then that Twitter isn’t interested in taking over your lock screen so much as it’s interested in Cover’s creators and their experience with intelligently surfacing information — something that it can certainly put to use.” The report added that “It’s also possible that Twitter is looking to flesh out its Android team, which recently saw the loss of Sara Haider, one of its key Android app developers. That said, sources tell us that this acquisition is unrelated to the Haider’s departure. Haider was most recently working on Vine’s Android app, while the team from Cover will be working at Twitter directly.”  Yoree Koh on WSJ blog writes “It suggests that the Twitter experience on Android could become distinct from other mobile platforms.” Mike Issac of Recode says “What it does suggest, however, is that the company is increasing its bet on the Android platform and is perhaps more willing to play around with the different mobile features that Android affords compared to Apple’s iOS mobile software.” Tell us what you think about the the acquisition. 


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