The launch of Android 2.1 also means the launch of Live Wallpapers—animated backgrounds for Android homescreens. You have to know whether or not these wallpapers are your cup of tea, but one thing is for sure: they require a lot of capacity from the device itself.
So does it sound too good to be true if I tell you that there’s a 3D wallpaper available on the Market which is not only highly adaptable but also fully interactive? And that on top of all that: it’s free?
Yeah, it might, but – in my humble opinion – Earth Live Wallpaper not only trumps the Live Wallpapers that come with 2.1, it also doesn’t use up as many system resources.
Are you curious to find out more? Then read on to find out what this app can do.
Features & Use
Once Earth Live Wallpaper has been installed you can access it via the standard menu for setting a background. Press on an empty space on the homescreen, select Wallpaper and then Live-Wallpaper. The application is labeled as EarthRot and not Earth Live Wallpaper… don’t let this confuse you.
This application provides a spectacular animated globe as a wallpaper. And it doesn’t stop there—you can also chose from a cool selection of planets, including several from the Star Wars universe.
But let’s get back to settings:
You can adopt the default settings. In order to do so select Set Wallpaper (or adjust the wallpaper), along with Settings. (NB: Once a wallpaper has been set as a background you can easily access Options via Wallpapers and Configure.)
The functions span a pretty broad spectrum; here’s a quick overview:
• You can download even more background textures via Map Packs on the top right—and free of charge to boot!
• You can set the speed of rotation, size of planets, onscreen positioning, and type of rotation (around which axis) via Globe Aspect.
• Globe Behavior allows you to set the planets‘ interactions: you can chose if (and how) a planet moves when you switch homescreen, as well as if it should rotate when you wipe your finger across the screen to switch homescreens.
• Maps: you can pick the planet (Earth, Earth by night, Earth with cloud movement (updated live via the internet, sweet!), Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Io, Titan, Callisto, Europa, Ganymed, Phoebus, Endor, Tatooine, Naboo, Hoth, Geonosis, Mustafar, Coruscant, Utapau, Yavin 4, Kamino, The Death Star, planets from the TV show Futurama, and so much more). You can also program how the planet’s name should appear, set the light/shadow sides of the planet, or select the planet’s surface randomly.
• Background: you can either select default backgrounds (with stars, it goes without saying), or chose one of your own pictures. The backgrounds can be set so that they waver slightly.
• Starfield: select this if you want an animated background adorned with stars. Looks a lot like what you can set as a computer background: white dots that zoom past the eye of the beholder. Please note that this option will suck a lot of juice out of your device.
• Foreground: apparently this function is meant to prevent possible crashes, but I never had to make use of it as Earth Live Wallpaper runs very smoothly.
The background textures are ah-maze-ing, especially the light/shadow option and cloud movement, synchronized with actually cloud movements so that the same cloud formations are shown onscreen as the ones that are forming up in the sky.
Screen & Controls
I found that you when you’re first installing Earth Live Wallpaper it is necessary to keep exiting the options menu in order to see what you’re doing in live, so to speak. It would be nice if some sort of preview were available, but perhaps that’s asking for a bit too much when you consider all the other things this app provides.
One thing is for sure: both the animation and the quality of the textures of planets/planet surfaces are totally out of this world.
And let it be said that it is pretty cool to see a 3D model of a planet right next to the unlock screen.
Speed & Stability
I’ve already mentioned that live wallpaper require a lot of juice. In my experience live wallpaper always lag behind when switching homescreens—even on a Nexus One. Not so with Earth Live Wallpaper, despite being a lot more sophisticated on a graphic level than, say, the ‘grass rustling in the wind’ Live Wallpaper.
One could even be so bold as to say that it requires hardly more system resources than ordinary wallpapers—the only exception being the animated Starfield option. This will cause your device to lag; it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth having to deal with a jumpy homescreen in order to see a few white dots whizz by. But I’m awarding four stars nonetheless: in no way is the performance less good than when you use the Live Wallpapers that come with 2.1.
The same doesn’t go for none-standard launchers, however. I found the performance to be less on par with LauncherPro or ADW Launcher: the Live Wallpaper is always seamlessly animated, but there’s some lagging when switching homescreens. However, this may be due to the launchers mentioned.
The five stars are well deserved. Earth Live Wallpaper can be downloaded free of cost and doesn’t even come with advertisements. Furthermore, you can find even more background textures via Map Packs on the Market or via the Earth Live Wallpaper options menu.