Wallpaper apps have been a dime-a-dozen on the iPad since there release. They have been there on the iPhone as well, but unless your iPhone or iPod Touch is jail-broken, then you only could use images from them on your Lock screen. With iOS 4 that changed and it was a welcome change. I love beautiful wallpapers and change mine often. I use pictures I’ve taken or find them on the web. But the wallpaper apps in the app store have usually been pretty worthless. They either have pretty ordinary wallpapers or the interface is so horrible it makes getting the wallpaper out of the app a chore and just not worth it. But not any more.
I didn’t expect much from MyWalls, from Simpa Studio. But the app far exceeded my expectations. When it comes to a wallpaper app, the interface is a secondary concern. What you want is one that just doesn’t get in the way. If you notice it, it probably failed. It should be just simple and make it really easy to get your wallpapers from the app to the Lock screen or the Home screen. With MyWalls it succeeds. After finding a wallpaper you like, you tap the picture to reveal the toolbar across the top and then tap on Save. It saves it as a Photo in your camera roll and you then go into the Photo app to set it as either your Lock or Home screen wall paper. To do that you hit the share button in the lower left corner of the Photos app and choose Use as Wallpaper. From there you can choose to set to the Lock Screen, Home Screen or both.
When you open MyWalls it gives you a list of categories. Just tap any category to view the wallpapers. When you find a wallpaper that you like just tap it to activate the toolbar. The buttons across the top let you view more info about the wallpaper (title, date published, and if uploaded by a user their name or just unknown), email it to friends, save it to your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, or go back to the previous page.
Across the bottom of the app’s main window is an options menu bar. You can use this bar to toggle back and forth between Category view (described above), the Search function which allows you to type in a theme or subject to locate associated wallpapers, the Settings page, Share page, and the Info page. I tried out the Search function with a few searches of my own – Packers, cars, Kentucky, and dogs, but only cars returned any wallpapers. So in my opinion, the quickest way to find a wallpaper that you want is to first use the search function, and if there’s nothing there then head back to the category page and look around for the next best thing.
Next I tried out the Settings page. On this page you can give your name, web site, and email address to submit and share your own pictures. It lists a couple of submission guidelines, but fortunately they really only say that you’re permitting MyWalls to use your image. You still get to retain ownership and copyright. Why would anyone give them the photos if they didn’t retain ownership? I am glad the developer chose to do it this way. As a result, I submitted one of my own pictures taken with the great camera on my iPhone 4. To upload images into MyWalls just touch the Share button in the lower main menu bar. From here you just browse and upldoad your wallpaper. The upload process is real simple, and you get a message at the end saying they’ll review it soon.
The last button is the Info button. It gives you the obligatory information about the app such as the latest news about MyWalls, the option to request new wallpaper, to share MyWalls with your friends via email (link to download MyWalls), and to get help if you need it.
The strengths of this app are first that it is simple. The interface is intuitive and easy to get around in. I wish it could save the pictures to your home screen or lock screen from within the app, but I’m almost certain thats a problem with the iPhone OS and not the app itself as none of the other apps that offer the option to save pictures to the home screen do it natively either. One other nit-picky thing is that when you open a picture, at first there is a back and forward arrow at the bottom (see image below). I assume these are there to scroll through the photos in your category or those returned after your search, but annoyingly an ad jumps up and covers the buttons (see the soccer ball image below). Why would you do this? Anyway, you can get around it just by swiping to move forward and backward, so I guess you don’t technically need the arrows, but the arrows being covered is frustrating. The developer should move the arrows above the ads or remove them altogether. Since this is a free app, removing the ads is probably not an option. Maybe they could offer a paid version so you don’t have to see the ads. As I said these aren’t the biggest of issues, but I thought they were worth pointing out.
The second strength is the photos. I found them to be beautiful. It is true this is a matter of taste, but I liked many of them. Be warned that there are a very few PG-13 photos. I opened the cartoons category and got a Sponge Bob picture and then a bunch of busty cartoon women. Though I am a bit prudish about such things, I was not offended by any of them. Again, it’s a mater a taste.
Finally, there is one problem – the pictures are only 320×480 resolution. The iPhone 4 screen’s resolution is 960×640. I hope the developer updates it to support this new resolution because this will make the images look great on the new iPhone while still looking great on the older phones. That said, none of the images looked bad on my iPhone 4. So it may not be a real issue. Below is the one I chose for now. But I will likely change it in a couple of days to one of the other great pictures in MyWalls.
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