There are many ways to customize and personalize Android, and by far the easiest is to change the wallpaper. There are hundreds of wallpaper apps on the Play Store, delivering content from across the internet, offering custom designs, or generating unique styles on the fly. Most of them will even change your wallpaper automatically, giving your phone a fresh new look every day.
Here’s our pick of the best.
1. Muzei Live Wallpaper
The perfect wallpaper needs to look nice, but it shouldn’t be so complicated that it obscures your apps and widgets. Muzei gives you the best of both worlds.
Muzei sets a famous painting as your wallpaper then applies blur and dimming effects to turn it into a more abstract — and less obtrusive — background. Double tapping your home screen reveals the artwork in all its glory. A new image is automatically downloaded every day.
Classic art not to your taste? Don’t worry, Muzei supports third party extensions that integrate with the internet’s best image sources. It works with anything from Flickr and Reddit, to National Geographic and NASA’s Image of the Day. Muzei can even link up with music apps like Spotify to set album art as your wallpaper, updating with each new track you listen to.
Download: Muzei (Free)
2. 500 Firepaper
500px is one of the leading communities for photographers on the internet. 500 Firepaper enables you to use the site’s incredible images as wallpaper.
The app works as a live wallpaper that constantly refreshes your backgrounds. It automatically updates the images on a schedule, from every 30 seconds to every hour. You get control over which categories the images are pulled from, and can tone them down with blurring and dimming effects among many other advanced features.
The app also integrates fully with Muzei and represents possibly the easiest way to get a steady stream of beautiful backgrounds.
Download: 500 Firepaper (Free)
3. Wallmax [No Longer Available]
Wallmax is an enormous — and growing — repository of phone wallpapers. It may lack the focus of the other apps we’re looking at here, but if you aren’t sure what you’re after, it’s a good place to start.
You can browse by tag, search for keywords, or just scroll through a list of random images until you find something you like. It’s possible to filter by image size — QHD resolution wallpapers are included in the collection — as well as excluding NSFW images from your searches.
If you create an account, you can also sync your favorite images across multiple devices.
Google’s own wallpaper app may be lacking in frills, but it’s brimming with high quality photography. The images are split into categories like Earth, Cityscapes, Textures etc, and are pulled from sources including Google Earth and 500px. Or you can use your own photos.
If you’re running Android 7.0 or later, the app enables you to set separate wallpapers for your home screen and lock screen. You can also set it to download and install a new wallpaper every day.
Download: Wallpaper (Free)
5. The Terra Collection [No Longer Available]
The Terra Collection offers a stunning selection of earth-themed images curated by the developer. They’re pulled from sources including Google Earth, Apple Maps, and the Pixabay stock image library, and are in very high resolution. It’s ideal for the new range of devices with high-res QHD displays, or you can crop the images within the app for that little bit of extra control.
You can also save images as favorites to find them again in future. The app is compatible with Muzei, though, so you can refresh your background every day if you wish.
If abstract wallpapers are more your thing, Tapet offers a seemingly infinite number of them. It’s cleverly built around gesture controls: a swipe upwards generates a whole new background; a swipe left gives you a new pattern with the same colors; a swipe right gives you new colors on the same pattern.
It’s actually strangely addictive trying to chance upon your perfect combination of design and color. To get around this, you can have Tapet change the wallpaper on a schedule of anywhere from every minute to every week. On supported devices, you can also set separate wallpapers for your home screen and lock screen.
Download: Tapet (Free)
Unlike the many wallpaper apps that get their content from the same sources, Backdrop is packed with original designs. There are material design-inspired wallpapers, abstract artworks, cityscapes, photos, and much more — all split into browsable categories. You’ve also got themed collections, a wallpaper of the day, and you can upload and share your own backdrops.
With Muzei integration, it’s easy to switch between your favorite designs each day. You can even join the beta test and get a first look at the app’s new features.
Download: Backdrops (Free)
8. Minimalist Wallpapers
Minimalist Wallpapers works along similar lines to Backdrops. It doesn’t have the hand-crafted designs, but is a curated collection of Creative Commons art. What makes it worth a look are some of the categories that you don’t find elsewhere. This includes a Movie & TV category that is a Sci-Fi geek’s dream.
Download: Minimalist Wallpapers (Free)
9. 1 Color Background: Simplicity
Finally, how about foregoing a fancy wallpaper in favor of a single, flat colored background? Sounds boring, but it actually works. It’s cool and understated, and if you’ve got a cluttered home screen, rammed with icons and widgets, it might be all you need.
Simplicity gives you hundreds of color choices. Many of them match the palettes of famous brands like Coca Cola or Starbucks, and they’re predominantly pastel shades, so they fit Android’s material design ethos.
If it’s a little too simple for you, there’s a companion app called Colored Backgrounds: Harmony, which gives you the option of a flat, five color background instead.
Download: 1 Color Background: Simplicity (Free)
These nine apps should get you started in your quest to find the perfect Android wallpaper. But now it’s over to you. What do you use for your phone’s wallpaper? What are your favorite apps or sources? Let us know in the comments.
Originally written by Matt Smith on June 23rd, 2011.