Abhimanyu GhoshalManaging Editor
Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].
One of the reasons I prefer Android over iOS is because it offers endless options for customizing the interface. That’s important to me as I like my apps and widgets set up just so, and I enjoy switching up wallpapers every once in a while.
Google Play is filled with apps hawking wallpapers, some great and some terrible. In the endless quest to create the ultimate home screen (for myself, anyway), I went through a boatload of them, and found a bunch of apps that help you create and apply backgrounds you’d be hard-pressed to spot on others’ devices. Here are nine of my favorites.
FreshCoat Wallpaper Creator
If you’re interested in creating a home screen setup from scratch, FreshCoat is a handy tool to customize and generate simple wallpapers on the fly.
Begin with a flat color, then add a texture or even a Material Design-inspired pattern. You can adjust the opacity and color of your chosen effect.
If you already have a collection of wallpapers, you can tweak it by adding a blur effect or pixelating it for a retro 8-bit look. There’s also the option to add text, but it’s so basic that you’re probably better off avoiding it. Here are a couple I whipped up in seconds.
➤ FreshCoat Wallpaper Creator [Free – $1]
KLWP Live Wallpaper Maker
This isn’t so much a wallpaper as it is an extensible customization system for your home screen. Kustom lets you add widgets, information and more to change the way you interact with your home screen.
For example, you could have a three-panel main screen that lets you view news, commonly used apps and a music player. Or you could just turn the whole display into a large clock.
The possibilities with Kustom are truly endless — but there’s a rather steep learning curve if you want to create your own configurations. Of course, you don’t have to start from scratch all by yourself; there are several themes you can download from Google Play, and find more in the app’s Google+ and Reddit communities.
There are lots of resources and tutorials available to help you build your own themes. Kustom has also released a widget engine that’s worth a look if you care to tinker with it.
To get started quickly, I’d recommend downloading the app, then looking for themes in Google Play with the search term ‘for Kustom‘. Here are a few free themes to try out. Kustom’s free version works well enough, but purchasing the Pro key removes ads and lets you import skins from your SD card — a bargain at the price of just over a dollar.
➤ KLWP Live Wallpaper Maker [Free – $1.20]
Tapet – Infinite Wallpapers
Tapet lets you generate one-of-a-kind wallpapers with loads of options for tweaking your creations. It’s dead-simple to use too: simply swipe up to throw together a fresh background, and tap the checkmark to set it.
If you want to get your hands dirty, you can dig into the settings to choose which patterns you’d like to include, and there’s a wide variety to choose from, including grids, city skylines geometric patterns, waves and abstract polygonal designs as well.
Tapet is intuitive enough that you’ll actually enjoy creating new wallpapers. You can ‘like’ them to bookmark them for later, swipe down to retrieve the previous one, and also change only the pattern while retaining the color palette and vice versa.
The app offers most of its features for free, but if you opt for the paid version, you’ll be able to incorporate even more patterns and even randomize wallpapers without launching the app, thanks to handy little widgets.
➤ Tapet [Free ($3 in-app purchase)]
Material Wallpapers: Infinite
If you’re a fan of large geometric shapes, flat colors and drop shadows inspired by Google’s Material Design language, this is definitely worth a look. Start by checking out the large collection of pre-generated wallpapers and then generate your own.
To do so, all you need to do is enter your name and the app will do the rest. You can adjust other parameters if you like.
I’ll admit that it took several tries before I got a result I was happy to add to my home screen, but it’s fun to play with nonetheless, and the included collection is quite nice.
➤ Material Wallpapers: Infinite [Free]
PolyGen – Create Polygon Art
Love polygons? This app lets you create polygon art with numerous settings and effects to play with. You can also plot and move individual points to create unique patterns.
For those of us with less time on our hands, there are handy randomizer buttons to quickly generate fresh backgrounds. You can choose different polygon distribution modes, color palettes and more. It also plugs into the Patternoid community to let you save and share your creations as well as download wallpapers created by other users.
Oddly enough, this app also lets you create Facebook cover photos and more. The free ad-supported version does a whole lot, but after playing with it for a bit, you’ll probably want to unlock more features like a color picker and layer styles with in-app purchases.
➤ PolyGen – Create Polygon Art [Free (up to $5.50 in-app purchase]
As part of a year-long image-a-day project, Australian artist Justin Maller created 365 gorgeous wallpapers that span a range of art styles and are perfect for adding a bold look to your home screen.
Facets includes beautiful fractal landscapes, low-poly animals and intriguing abstract pieces that will have you glancing at your screen more often than usual.
Browse through the entire collection and swipe up or double tap on any image when viewing it in full screen mode to set it as your wallpaper.
If you like what you see, you can swipe down to learn more about the piece and buy a print. Facets also plugs into Muzei, so you can have your wallpapers change automatically every hour and have them blur out of focus while you use your phone.
➤ Facets [$1]
Chrooma Live Wallpaper
Inspired by the mobile game of the same name, Chrooma adorns your home screen with large shapes that gently undulate and slide over each other and respond to the motion of your device.
The shapes and colors can be set to change every time you return to your home screen or after a certain period of time. You can create palettes or let the app use the ones in its library, and remove those that you don’t like.
For a buck, this elegant live wallpaper is an absolute steal for users who enjoy minimalist backgrounds but want that little extra somethin’.
➤ Chrooma Live Wallpaper [Free – $1]
One of Google’s own Android experiments, Meter displays your battery level, wireless signal and number of notifications in simple visualization based on geometric shapes.
The wallpaper cycles through three visualizations with every unlock and you’ll see them react as you tilt your phone. If you like keeping your home screen tidy but still want to stay on top of your device’s vital stats, this is a good way to go.
➤ Meter [Free]
This unique collection of five beautiful Material Design-inspired wallpapers depicting mini islands has a neat feature that you won’t notice at first glance: each background changes according to the time of day.
I enjoy this set because of the minimalist art style and the calming color schemes. Seeing them change when I unlock my phone throughout the day is a nice little surprise. It’s another great choice for those who enjoy simple shapes and clean lines.
➤ Material Islands [Free]
That’s a wrap! Where do you get hot wallpapers and which are your favorites? Show them off in the comments!
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