Contact Owner

Overview

Contact Owner is an Android app that displays your (or a friend's) contact information on the "lock screen" of your Android device, so that if you happen to lose it the finder will know how to contact you. Select yourself (or your friend) from your list of contacts, then select which information you want shown and (optionally) customize your message. Contact Owner is a "fire and forget" tool: once you set it up, your contact information will keep being displayed even after restarting your device, as long as the application is installed.

Contact Owner is open source software. Visit the project page on Google Code or browse the source code for the gory details. Contact Owner is licensed under the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License) meaning you can freely distribute it yourself (by itself or along with other software) as long as you make publicly available any changes/additions to the code.

Want to contribute? Contact Owner is open source; use the Contact Form on the left to request commit access to the Google Code project.

Screenshots

Contact Owner setup screen.

Android lock screen.

Lock screen with alarm information.

 

Features

  • Display contact information on the device's "lock screen", whether you use pattern locking or not: when someone finds your lost device it will be the first thing that they see.
  • Use an existing contact (yourself or a friend/family member) instead of typing in everything: select the person from your contacts list, then select which information you want displayed.
  • Customize the message with an introduction and a thank you note and/or reward.
  • Fire and forget: set up Contact Owner once and it will keep displaying your contact information as long as you have the application installed.
  • Contact Owner in your language: Contact Owner is localized in a number of languages and new translations are added to releases. See the FAQ for details on how to contribute a translation.
  • New! Lightweight: Contact Owner only runs for a second every time you set an alarm or the Alarm Clock rings, then terminates immediately, allowing other applications to use all available memory. (You may still notice the process running in the background for a while; that is just Android keeping it around in case it may need to run it again later. As soon as you run a resource-intensive application -- such as the Browser -- Android will terminate the process.)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. This thing only shows my name. How do I add more information?

    Go into the Contacts app (the one that came preinstalled on your device) and add some contact methods (such as your home phone number or email address) to your contact. You should also pay attention if your name appears more than once in your contact list; some of those duplicates may not have any contact information attached. Select the one that has a phone number displayed next to it.

    In addition to this (or instead of this) you can add custom text before and after the contact information, meaning that you can enter your contact information directly in Contact Owner rather than going the long way around. It's your choice.

  2. How do I take this off the screen? I uninstalled it and it's still displayed.

    It will go away when you set an alarm (or after an alarm rings). In other words, it will stay there until another application that sets up alarms changes it. This means it will still be there if you restart your phone, because Android remembers it. If it bothers you, simply set and unset an alarm using the Alarm Clock app.

  3. Text alignment is off. And what's the alarm icon for?

    Contact Owner works by changing the text for the next alarm and replacing it with your contact information (since v1.1 it also keeps the next alarm text in addition to the contact information). This means that it has no control over how that text is displayed. Android displays it next to the alarm bell icon and centers it in the remaining space (that's why it looks a bit off). Unfortunately there is no other way of displaying anything on the lock screen, as it's a component of the Android system and can't be changed by an application.

  4. Why does it stop working every morning after my alarm goes off?

    Actually it doesn't. If you turn the display off and then back on, it will show up.

    The gory details: Contact Owner works by changing the text for the next alarm (which normally gets set by the Alarm Clock application) and replacing/adding to it your contact information. The lock screen (the screen actually displaying the text when your device is locked) belongs to the Android system (is comes preinstalled on the device) so the system controls when it gets updated, meaning that immediately after an alarm rings the text will disappear from the lock screen. However, you'll notice that whenever the screen is turned on because you pressed a button the text is always displayed correctly. Which pretty much covers the case of someone finding your phone and fingering it trying to find out whom to give it back to.

  5. Why do I have to use contacts? Why can't I just type in what I want shown? I don't think people who design the programs on my phone should have access to my contacts.

    The fact that Contact Owner has access to your contact list does not mean that I (or anyone else than you) have access to your contact list. (Just like Microsoft can't read your Microsoft Office documents just because Microsoft Office can.)

    If Contact Owner also had permission to access the internet or send SMS, then it (theoretically) could grab your contact list and email it to me. Mwahahahaha! >:-). However, I'm not going to ask for that permission because Contact Owner does not need it to work properly. As long as an application either only has access to your private information (such as your contacts) or only has access to the internet/SMS/phone calls then you're safe. If it has access to both, then all bets are off.

    Furthermore, Android as an OS is actually much safer than Windows (or pretty much any computer operating system) because applications have to explicitly request permission for every single thing it does and the complete list of requested permissions is displayed to you before you install an application. On Windows, once you download a program and run it, it can do pretty much everything you yourself can do on your computer, including reading your list of contacts and emailing it to someone.

  6. Why isn't Contact Owner available in Dutch/Polish/<insert your language here>?

    Because I don't speak any of those languages (at least not nearly well enough). :o( But if you do (and are reading this, so you also speak English) here's your chance to do it yourself: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=rCUFrcTLRVVo8WgXwre7wtQ 

    Anyone can edit the document, so please go on and translate the text to your own language. When you're done, I'll add the translation to Contact Owner and publish an update on the Android Market. Chinese, Spanish, French and German translations have already been included, so it really does work.

  7. I installed Contact Owner and my phone crashed and went into a reboot loop. What do I do now?

    I am aware of this issue on HTC builds (as opposed to Google builds, such as those on the T-Mobile G1, Vodafone Sapphire or the Android Developer Phone) and therefore made Contact Owner unavailable on the Android Market in countries where only HTC imaged phones are available. I apologize for crashing your phone.

    To get out of the reboot loop you can either (1) hold down the Menu key while booting the device to boot into Safe Mode, then uninstall Contact Owner or (2) if that fails do a factory reset: boot your device while holding down both the Home key and the End key for about 20 seconds, or until you see a “triangle with an exclamation point and a picture of the device″ then open the keyboard and press the W key while holding down Alt. If your phone doesn't have a keyboard this help page describes how to do a factory reset.

    This is most likely a build issue, since it only happens on some (namely HTC) builds. Also, Android apps run within Dalvik virtual machines so whatever errors they may produce shouldn't therefore cause the OS to crash, which is what happens here. I also suspect that it has something to do with setting the system-wide alarm message since I've heard of other apps (Klaxon and Alarming!) that are alarm clock variations and that cause the exact same behavior when installed on HTC imaged devices. I've submitted a bug report to HTC (actually a customer support issue, since they don't have a public bug DB).

    That being said I'm curious what the issue is so if anyone with a HTC imaged Android device is willing to help please, please contact me. (I only have access to an Android Developer Phone that doesn't have this issue.)

  8. My question isn't answered here. How do I get help?

    Fear not, help is only a click away. Use the contact form to submit your question and I'll get back to you with an answer. Every now and then I'll add the questions that pop up most frequently to this page too.

Version History

Packages for older versions are available here  (in case you encounter problems with the current version) together with the current version (which you can get from the site in case you can't install it from the Android Market).

2.1  Made Contact Owner service stop immediately after handling a broadcast to reduce system load and improve user experience. If you still see Contact Owner running in the background it's because Android keeps around 'dead' processes for a while: it's cheaper to keep a process running an doing nothing if there is a chance that it may be ran again than to terminate it and then load it again when necessary.
2.0  Moved processing into background to avoid 'not responsive' warnings and broadcast receivers for a couple more broadcasts (alarm changed and power connected) to restart Contact Owner after an update.
1.8  Added Dutch localization. 6 languages and counting!
1.7  Added Chinese, Spanish and French localization. 5 languages and counting!
1.6  Fixed a nasty bug in 1.5 (yes, that does happen to androids too) that caused repeated failures upon launch if no alarm message was already set.
1.5  Added German localization and improved the snappiness of returning from standby when a key is pressed.
1.4  Allowed manual entry of custom headers and footers to the contact information displayed on the lock screen.
1.3  Forced the lock screen to update after the alarm clock goes off. The lock screen now always display your contact information when the screen is turned on.
1.2  Added an informational message when the selected contact had no associated contact information.
1.1  Kept the next alarm text next to the contact information, so that you could still check it out when you needed to.
1.0  Initial release.

License

Contact Owner is open source software, licensed under the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License). The code is hosted on Google Code and you can browse the source code there if you're looking to build something similar and need some ideas.

The icon is based on graphics from the LGPL-licensed Crystal-Clear (by Everaldo Coelho) and Nuvola (by David Vignoni) icon sets. Here is the icon in PSD and PNG format, made available as required by the license (also licensed under the LGPL). Oh, and the .apk files for all versions, just in case you can't get it off the Android Market or you want a previous version.

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