It's been interesting watching Nokia quickly push innovative new features into Windows Phone from the outside, and with the firm's smart phone business being purchased by Microsoft, we'll have to collectively cross our fingers and hope for the best. In Lumia "Black," an update tied to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Nokia provides a number of excellent examples of this innovation. And Glance 2.0 is one great example.

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Remember, you can learn more about Nokia Lumia "Black" and the associated Update 3 from Microsoft in The Complete Guide to Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and Lumia Black. To learn more about Windows Phone 8, be sure to check out my free 650-page e-book, Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8.

Glance 2.0

Glance is a Windows Phone 8 Settings app that Nokia provides for free to users of its mid-level and high-end Windows Phone 8-based Lumia smart phones. It provides a sorely missing capability in the base version of the OS: The ability to simply glance at the screen of your phone, when it's "off" (not completely powered down, but with the screen display off) and see valuable information, including the time.

In Glance 2.0, Nokia has added a number of new features. The full Glance 2.0 feature set (note to the pedantic: Yes, some of these were available previous to 2.0) includes:

Clock. The Glance screen displays a large, easily visible clock that periodically moves around the screen to prevent burn-in.

Notifications. While the original version of Glance only included a clock, 2.0 also displays your lock screen notifications so you can tell at-a-glance when you have new email or text messages, missed phone calls, and other notifications. The notifications move around on the Glance screen with the clock.

Glance screen configuration. Glance can be configured to display in intervals, to be always on, or in a peek mode in which it displays when you rotate the phone to look at it. (It can also be off.) Glance can also be configured to always display when the phone is charging.

Night mode. You can enable a nice night mode in which the Glance display uses a dimmer color for less glare. In the original glance version, only an amber ("red") display color was offered, but with 2.0, you can also choose blue or green. You can also determine when night mode engages, with start and end time configuration.

Glance isn't interactive and your phone works as it would if you didn't have or weren't using this feature. So you can tap the Power or Start button and the phone will wake up normally and display the lock screen.

You can configure Glance in Settings, Glance.

As with App Folders, Glance 2.0 is available outside of the "Black" update, but Nokia for some reason includes it as a feature of "Black." (It does apparently require that you have Black installed first, however.)

You can download Glance 2.0 from the Windows Phone Store.