Android features all sorts of customization, from icons to themes. The brave of you also jump into the waters of XML editing and flashing experimental visual tweaks. It’s safe to say that we all love Android customization, and it remains one of the reasons we pick the platform over any other mobile OS. With Android, your phone can truly be yours because you’ve got full control over the tiniest of its details, as well as an immense repertoire of available launchers, icon packs, and themes. But perhaps the most essential part of an Android launcher is the wallpaper.
Now, changing the wallpaper is not just an Android thing, and it’s something that even non-color feature phones had back in the day. I remember my first color phone and how I wanted it to look the best, but sadly, that Alcatel phone had a built-in pack of wallpapers, with no camera and absolutely no way of sideloading more. The WAP browser couldn’t even download images! To our current luck, though, setting a wallpaper is as easy as ever and you’ve got a million ways on getting them on your phone. But there still remains a problem that we often stumble upon: where do I find a great wallpaper?
As with every little demand a consumer might have, developers sought out to fix this conundrum. And now you’ve got many offerings to aid you in your quest for the wallpaper you desire but have no idea exists – the one that helps you express yourself, have a consistent phone design, look at beautiful art from all over the world… or have a hot chick in a bikini as your background (we can’t guarantee this last one won’t get you weird looks). There are applications that help you make wallpapers, some that let you find and filter through immense databases, and then there are those that do the job for you by picking the créme de la créme of photography.
Given that searching for new applications on the Playstore can be quite an ordeal, here’s what we think are some of the best options for you to discover new possibilities and make the homescreen you might not even know you want. Let’s get started.
Our first item in this list comes from reputable XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire. You heard that right, the SuperSU superman himself, the guy whose permission manager you most likely have installed already. Like with his more in-depth work, his incursion into the wallpaper scene is nothing short of extraordinary either. This application gives you a live wallpaper, with an added daydream for those dockers of you, that features beautiful pictures from the image sharing community 500px, where aspiring and professional photographers alike upload their work – and it’s often breathtaking. This app guarantees you a good wallpaper experience, pretty much no matter what your kind of tastes are.
The photos cycle at an interval you can configure and you can choose what categories you want the pictures to be picked from. You can also choose whether to feature popular, upcoming, editor picked or fresh images, and you have the option to toggle the NSFW option in case you want it to not be so tame. Finally, it’s in your power to configure the blur, saturation, brightness, and turn on a parallax effect that makes some of these pictures come to life. It also comes with Muzei integration, an app we’ll talk about in just a bit. This application is free and fully featured, but the Pro version allows you to pin backgrounds for up to 7 days.
Zedge is a big one. The best part about Zedge is that it is used by millions of contributors who also give feedback on the uploaded content. The application features a gargantuan amount of wallpapers, so many that you wouldn’t know where to start. The pictures themselves are tagged, which makes searching really convenient and the right keyword can net you just what you want. But even without that, the discovery aspect of the app is great and allows you to look at very interesting categories. The app also takes care of adjusting the image to your screen size for you, which makes some of the varying resolutions and aspect ratios less of a hassle to handle. Since this provides you with a non-live alternative, you can expect no added battery loss and while the app does ask for some permissions, I haven’t found any wakelocks emanate from it in the long time it has sat on my app drawer.
The best part, though, is that Zedge is not just about static wallpapers, as it also features a wide selection of live ones too. But even then, this ambitious app doesn’t stop there: it also contains ringtones, notification sounds, and even helps you search for a new game. If you need to revamp your phone, this app has you covered. And while you might have come here looking for a wallpaper app, I thoroughly suggest you also consider its powerful sound offerings. If you want a sound from a videogame or a movie, you can easily find and download it here. Given that this app has millions of users and so many contributions, it is very likely you will find just what you are looking for.
Muzei contains as much beauty as a museum – its very name’s Russian meaning gives you a hint of this. This app will take you through the world of art by giving you an amazing new background artwork each day. The pickings are consciously curated and the shots it presents you can be crisp or blurred, but the application doesn’t discriminate as to what kind of pieces of artwork you will find, so you’ll discover new artists from different time periods with the information they provide you, if you want to know more about the background on your phone that day. For example, my day’s wallpaper was The Battle of Vercellae from 1725, a historic piece depicting a stoic conflict. The app automatically adapted the picture to my phone’s screen perfectly, as it does with all phones, so don’t worry too much if your aspect ratio or resolution is an oddity.
But the great part about Muzei is that you don’t have to use their artwork selections either. You can have the application effectively serve as a live rotation of your galleries, no matter if they are artwork or pictures of sexy Android phones. This means the app can replace your “gallery live wallpapers” which the Playstore is crowded to the teeth with. And if you think you want something new that’s not on your phone, the application also has plugin support that allows for different sources to provide the images to you, like the aforementioned 500 Firepaper app. Flickr, Astronomy and Reddit‘s best can make it to your background just as easily, so there is probably an option to get the prettiest exponents of just the kind of pictures you want.
We arrive to one of my personal favorites: for all of you Material Design fans, this app is precisely the one for you. Minima offers you a variety of Materialized wallpapers with beautiful and colorful shapes and curves, all with the appropriate shadowing to give it just the depth it needs. But that’s not where depth ends: this app makes the physical paper reality Google intended as real as ever by integrating a parallax effect that makes each shape shift with the appropriate motion for the appropriate distance. While it might be hard to explain, it gives your phone a very three-dimensional look and it makes staring at your homescreen and tilting your phone an activity in its own.
What is probably the best part is that you can customize almost every bit of the wallpapers themselves, from colors to depths and with some extra paid features, even more than that. If you don’t like the position of an element, you can move it around, or change its dimensions. You can also configure the parallax of the layers to make the effect more extreme or tamer. The downside is that many of the beautiful wallpapers are locked behind the Pro version, but the free application offers just enough to sate your Material Design cravings. And the parallax effect is probably the best I’ve seen on Android due to the multiple layers that give it a great sense of 3D. This app is beautiful and original, and even if you don’t plan on using it for a wallpaper, I suggest giving it a try!
This app is rather new, and it builds upon the deceased Wallbase application’s sources, which served well what used to be one of the most famous wallpaper apps out there. The source is wallhaven and it contains thousands of awesome wallpapers already, which means a lot of variety in this regard as well. While it has not been around as long as Zedge’s database, and might not have the same community, Zedge also has a lot of common and sometimes samey wallpapers and this app offers a more original approach.
The wallpapers display their resolution under each thumbnail, a feature I really wish more of these kind of apps would adopt. The design of the app is very Material and pleasing, which means navigating through it is a joy unlike with the more archaic Zedge. You can order pictures based on relevance and resolution, and filter categories and purity. The app seems to cater to anime fans by giving them a category just for that, so it’s worth checking out if you like that. It does feature a search function that does the job very well, but there’s usually a couple of odd results. It also has an “auto awesome” mode that changes your wallpaper automatically from specific categories, and you can browse randomly if you are brave. The application is still in beta, and has come out very recently, so there’s room to improve and you can certainly expect it to grow in every way – but as it stands, the wallpaper selection is very solid.
The right choice
There are many options out there and many are very good as well. These are just the ones we think would appeal to the widest ranges of people – those who want to discover new pictures, those who want to express themselves with hand-picked images, and those who want the phone to look consistent. Each of these apps have their pros and cons but all of them offer enough variety to last you for a while.
If you don’t like using apps for wallpapers, there’s still many options for you. Sites like DeviantArt or Flickr can help you find content suited to your trends, and Google+ is also another great option for wallpapers as you can set them easily and keep browsing. But since all of these featured apps are free, I suggest you to check out each of the ones that interest you – it only takes a few minutes to get a feel for the app and its offerings. Who knows, you might find a new beautiful landscape, awesome 3D shapes, or a hot chick.
Which wallpaper app do you use and what kind of wallpapers do you like? Tell us below!