One of Android’s distinctive features is its ability to use “Live Wallpaper” on the phone’s home screens. Admittedly, these fun, animated backgrounds don’t serve much purpose except as eye candy, although some do at least include things like the time and date. Whether you use them or not, they are certainly popular. Many new, colorful and inventive themes are developed and released every day, despite many purists claiming they swallow up valuable system resources and battery power.
Let’s take a look at some of them here. If you don’t like our choices much, remember there’s thousands more to discover in the Android Market.
Earth Live Wallpaper (Free)
Certainly one of the most popular Live Wallpapers ever with over one million downloads, Earth Live displays rotating planets from our solar system on your Android home screens. The detail is quite impressive, it runs smoothly, and there are options to set the globe’s rotation, speed, size and background.
Seeds of Life (~$0.80)
For just under a buck you, too, can have little sperm swimming around on your Android’s home screen. A waste of money? Perhaps for some, but heck, it certainly gets people talking, and may even give them a laugh or two. The spawn swim around quite happily and react to your touch. They’re customizable too, with options to change their color and abundant numbers.
aniPet Aquarium (Free)
This wallpaper simulates a live aquarium on your Android, with beautiful fish swimming around. The limited, free version only has a couple available, but pony-up $1.99 for the full version and you can enjoy 88 different species, with ten different fish in the tank at any time. With the ability to feed them and witness them breed, aniPet practically transcends from Live Wallpaper to fully-fledged simulation.
Thunderstorm Live Wallpaper (Free)
Offering a spectacular backdrop of realistic looking lightning, rain and ominous clouds, this is one Live Wallpaper that has quite an impact. Download Thunderstorm Donation for just $0.99, and you get full access to many more settings like ambient light color, wind speed, bolt frequency, and cloud cover, but even the free version is an impressive show.
Nexus Revamped (Free)
Android 2.2 added the Nexus Live Wallpaper to many devices, but Nexus Revamped takes the classic wallpaper, beloved by original Nexus One owners everywhere, and steps it up a notch. You can adjust particle size, length, color and speed and if you’ve got a buck-fifty to spare, the Pro version allows you to add custom backgrounds or even let the particle speed adjust to your current battery strength.
Solar Wind Live Wallpaper (Free)
From A.O.I. Studios comes this impressive and colorful Live Wallpaper. Just a mere 64KB download, it uses OpenGL technology and is well-optimized, so it shouldn’t bog-down your device too much. Adjust its many settings to create vivid, vibrant swirls of color which are sure to brighten up your home screens.
Starfield 3D Live Wallpaper (Free)
You might recall the “Starfield Simulation” screen saver from earlier version of Windows. Using a simple black background, this Live Wallpaper, like its Windows counterpart, makes it seem like you’re zooming through space. A quick double-tap of you’re home screen and you’ll set your engines to warp speed. There’s an alternative in the Market (from a different developer) with the same name that offers colors and a meteor storm option.
Light Grid Live Wallpaper (Free)
What makes Light Grid interesting is its sheer adaptability and numerous customization options. Change colors, sizes and speeds to create a truly unique animated wallpaper that no-one else can boast. Upgrade to Live Grid Pro, and things get even more interesting. Now you’ll be able to customize the shapes themselves, add ripples and waves, to create a Live Wallpaper that can be morphed into something different every single day.
Living Music Wallpaper (Free)
A word of warning: this one doesn’t work on every phone, so your mileage may vary. However, if you can get it to work, you’ll enjoy its ability to display the album art of the music that’s currently playing on your device. But if you’re not cranking out any tunes, Living Music still keeps it real by rotating small animated album cover art constantly on your phone’s home screens.
Please remember that once downloaded, these Live Wallpapers don’t appear like apps on your device. They need to be selected from a “settings” screen which may differ from phone to phone. The Android Market is full of reviews from people complaining that they “can’t find the app” once purchased, but chances are, they just aren’t doing it right. Be aware that some older devices and OS versions may not support Live Wallpaper either.