In January 2010, Google released Android 2.1. Amongst a bevy of features released in this version of the mobile operating system, Google also added the live wallpapers function. What makes this live wallpapers different from the conventional static wallpapers is the richer, animated and interactive backgrounds.
Live wallpapers are similar to a normal Android application as they have access to all the facilities of the platform, such as OpenGL (3D drawing), GPS, accelerometers, network access, etc). While the real purpose of live wallpaper is to create fun and interesting user experiences, there are some that are really beautiful, and at best, stunning
Note: Running live wallpaper can be resource intensive. I have not run thorough tests, but my phone loses its charge in about 30% less time with a live wallpaper running. Some live wallpapers are also more process intensive than others and this may be another factor in the battery drain issue.
The wonderful developers at xda-developers.com created this geeky and nostalgic live wallpaper. It features Mario playing randomly generated levels which restart if Mario dies.
This wallpaper feature a number of options including the ability to “skip” the current level being played and various other technical settings (such as the number of frames per seconds and the level of priority given to the wallpaper with respect to the other apps on your phone).
The developers have also added an unique function which allows you to switch between “Playback mode” and “AI mode“. While the former saves battery, the latter allows you to select the path Mario should take, i.e. an easier path or a harder path.
You can’t really play Mario with this live wallpaper, nor is there any interactive elements, but it is still fun to see the classic characters running around in your screen.
This soothing live wallpaper displays fishes and coral gliding in and out of your home screen. This is probably one of my favorite live wallpaper as it fades into the background and does not disturb the visual experience when using your phone.
Double-tap on any part of the screen to feed the fish!
3. The Matrix
Although, it has been over a decade since the film The Matrix hit the big screens, the images of unintelligible code flashing on a computer screen is still an iconic symbol of geekdom. The Matrix live wallpaper brings this cultural phenomenon to the mobile platform.
The wallpaper allows you to customise the colour, speed and size of the code.
Touch your home screen to watch “The Matrix” glow!
This is a truly beautiful live wallpaper and it is especially perfect for situations where you want a darker theme on your phone.
Again the developers have left a dearth of options to tweak how you want your fireworks to look. You are able to change the height, depth, size and colour of the fireworks and you are also able to select the type of fireworks displayed, i.e. a star, sunburst or heart pattern.
The Earth live wallpaper displays a planet rotating slowly over a star field. There are a number of planets available including fictional ones from the Star Wars, Star Trek, Futuruma and various other universes. You can even set it to ordinary spherical objects such as a football.
You are able to customise the position and location of the globe, the ability to interact with the globe (for example rotating it manually), and whether you want the globe displayed on a star field.
The Wave live wallpaper uses your phone’s accelerometer to change the display on the screen, so by rotating your phone you can watch the waves shift and the ship move across the screen.
I am not a big fan of this live wallpaper but some friends swear by it. The Maps live wallpaper shows your current location on a Google Maps layout as your wallpaper.
This is useful as it saves you having to open the Maps application, however it also means that the wallpaper will use the GPS to find your location every time you move, sapping your battery.
Tapping on your home screen gradually zooms in on your location from a continent view straight down into the street. You can also set the type of map you want to view (e.g. satellite, “normal” – i.e. roads, and terrain) and whether you want to view traffic indicators.
This wallpaper comes pre-installed with every Android phone running 2.1 and above.
Update: Thanks to Jack Nathen for informing us about this great wallpaper. How on hell did we miss this out?
Have you found any other live wallpapers that are worth sharing?