CaseSensor: A Brilliant Idea for Android Tablets Hampered by Flawed Hardware

CaseSensor: A Brilliant Idea for Android Tablets Hampered by Flawed Hardware

Jan 16, 2012

CaseSensor is an example of an app that theoretically, works well. There’s no reason why that it should not work based on the way that it is programmed.. It just runs into issues out of its control with the hardware and sensors that it uses that makes it a questionable purchase for some tablet owners.

What CaseSensor does is that it tries to replicate the Smart Cover functionality of the iPad 2. For those unaware, the iPad 2 has a magnet in it that allows the Smart Cover to lock and unlock the screen whenever it is detected as covering the screen. CaseSensor attempts to solve this problem by using the light sensor on tablets to detect when it is being covered, and when it isn’t, and it will automatically lock the screen when it detects the light sensor’s minimum value, like when it’s covered by a case, and unlock when it exceeds the minimal value.

Hypothetically, it works like a charm – when testing on my Xoom, whenever the light level reached zero, it locks the screen, and when it got above zero, the screen came on. There are options for whether the lock screen should appear or not, how long until the screen locks, and whether lock sounds should play or not. It’s very customizable, and the app appears to be very well done, and should do its job perfectly, though using it in the dark might be a problem because of the fact that it’s using light sensors, but it’s easy to suspend CaseSensor when necessary.

The problem, and it appears to not be the fault of the developers at all, is that light sensors are very, very fickle. See, some light sensors, such as the Xoom 1’s light sensor, are very poor at detecting light in some situations. This means that the lock timer will often turn on even when it is uncovered; while it’s possible to cancel the locking process, it clearly should not work this way. But, this is actually due to the light sensor. The Xoom light sensor tends to only respond to light that is directly overhead, rather than around it, so creating even any value that is slightly above its minimal value (0 for the Xoom, but other sensors have different values, according to the developer) requires to be very near a source of brightness, or the source has to be extremely bright.

An independent test of the light sensors using AndroSensor showed that it is not just the app that is detecting the light poorly, it is the sensor itself. Given my typical lighting situation, this means the app will not work for me as unless I’m directly under my lamp, the Xoom registers a value of zero.

So, I can’t really give this app a score, or much of a review at all – it works on a theoretical level, but is of limited utility to most people because of its hardware. The best way to see if this will work? Download an app like AndroSensor to measure the light sensor values, and if they work in a way where typical light conditions will register on the sensor, and covering the sensor will cause the minimal value, then check out CaseSensor, because it does work if the light sensor works. That’s just a questionable proposition for some users.

CaseSensor: A Brilliant Idea for Android Tablets Hampered by Flawed Hardware Rundown

Overall - It works on a hypothetical basis, but it really varies based on the tablet's light sensor.

App available on the Google Play Store »

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
Connect with Carter Dotson // email // www
  • John

    I got this app on my Galaxy Tab and it works fine, but I can see how it might not work very well if your tablet hasn’t got a fair light sensor.

  • Desert Salmander

    good review. very thorough with a nice solution.