For battery saving purposes, most of you will probably stick to static wallpapers, but we all know they can't match the coolness of live wallpapers. The number of active backgrounds is infinite on the Play Store and range from simple and subtle to really flashy and complex animations, to even mini-games that may or may not require your participation.
Last year we offered you a batch of what we thought were cool live wallpapers, and now we are going to refresh that list.
Beautifully designed and packing stunning visuals, the Forest HD live wallpaper really does bring the magic of the forest onto your Android homescreen. In addition to the trees, grass and scenery, there's also wildlife such as owls and deer. You can customize it to feature waterfalls, cabins and signs. The latter support custom photos, as well.
You can get even more additional perks for this particular live wallpaper. They are sold in add-on packs, which may as well cost you a bit. Still, it's light on the battery and the performance is nothing short of silky.
Get Forest HD Live Wallpaper ($0.99)
Next up on our list is My Log Home. It has beautiful graphics of a cozy and welcoming log cabin, spanning your homescreen as you scroll through the different panes.
With both free and premium versions available, you can test the look and feel of this live wallpaper before you decide to buy. The free version has a limited set of options, while going for premium unlocks tons of customizations. You can change the entire look of the room or switch between different presets.
When the Ubuntu mobile OS was announced, many people fell in love with the custom lockscreen design it had. Now, a group of fans have made an identical looking live wallpaper for Android.
Feature-wise it's not as great as the Ubuntu OS alternative. It doesn't offer Twitter, Facebook, SMS or call integration to feed you with live information about missed and upcoming events. The only thing the Ubuntu live wallpaper offers you is integration with the system clock and battery to display the time and charge.
Sadly, customization is limited to setting the battery and clock formats and visual customization isn't yet built-in.
If you're a fan of arcade space games, then this wallpaper is definitely worth checking out. The Pixel Fleet live wallpaper sets up three fractions that battle each other in space ships right on your homescreen. As the name suggests, it does so in a pixel-art design, which is light on the GPU and in turn the battery.
Provided you run Android 4.2, you can set Pixel Fleet as a Daydream as well, and it's reasonably entertaining to watch a space battle of epic proportions right on your smartphone screen. It's not very interactive, letting you only destroy any battleship you choose by double tapping it, but nevertheless it's worth the install.
Our experience with the wallpaper has been exceptional and battery drain is nothing to worry about. There are two versions of this live wallpaper. The free one gives you 3 ships, one from each fraction and Daydream support. Going for the paid one doubles the ships, gives you dynamic backgrounds generated for different battlefields, scores and stats.
Staying in the pixel-art class of live wallpapers, the Origami Live Wallpaper generates random, colorful, fading rhombs to sustain a unique look. The live wallpaper features tons of customizations. There are 9 different themes for quickly changing the look and feel of the theme.
However, if you have the time, you can fiddle with 62 customization options, guaranteed to give you the look you desire. The Origami live wallpaper also comes with its own widget, which allows you to change the look of the wallpaper with a tap or even create a static version of it, to save battery.
Unfortunately, there's wallpaper only comes for a fee, which is a bit of a setback.
Get Origami Live Wallpaper ($1.00)
Changing the wallpaper of your Android can be a fiddly task. Why not automate this while having a cool set of fresh and good looking wallpapers pushed to your phone instead? With the BetterThanExpected Wallpapers app you can do just this.
Its title does sound cocky, but it really isn't far off. Once you download it, it's just a matter of assigning the app as the usual run-of-the-mill live wallpaper. The app takes over the rest, as it downloads fresh wallpapers submitted to different Subreddits (www.reddit.com). Naturally, you can choose which subreddits to get your wallpapers from based on your interests. There are a dozen predefined (City, Nature, Animals, Design, Sky, so on).
The settings menu is quite extensive and allows you to choose the time of day to download new wallpapers, the number of pictures to download as well as the wallpaper change interval.
Most of the entrants in this category have been more on the aesthetic side than the functional one. There are however some, which serve useful information, and Battery Core live wallpaper is one of them. Just like its name suggests, this wallpaper offers real time information about the battery of your Android device.
The things that are being monitored include your battery charge percentage, temperature, voltage and charging status. The animation is pretty cool too. It's tied to the actual battery charge of your phone - the more power you have, the faster the core will spin. Or, it'll slow down the less juice there is.
Available in both free and premium versions, the wallpaper sports a lot of options in its latter variation. You can change the background, the particle effects, battery core type, color and glowing effects.
If you've ever used Google Now, you've noticed the header images on top of the app, which change depending on your location and time of the day. With the Google Now Wallpaper HD, all the different images Google uses for its Now service are put straight on your homescreen. Once you've install it, just pick which of the preset locations you want to use as wallpaper.
Get Google Now Wallpaper HD (free)
The final touch to making your Android smartphone look as stylish as possible with the least amount of effort, is to install a custom icon pack. Available in the Play Store are tons of various icon sets, each with different styling and price tag.
It's fairly easy to change the look of the app icons on your Android smartphone, provided you have a custom launcher that supports that kind of user interface intervention. Among the most popular supported launchers are Action Launcher, ADW Launcher, Apex Launcher, Go Launcher EX, Nova Launcher and Holo Launcher.
The creators of the icon set combine Google style with their own unique design and the result is Coolors. With more than 780 icons in its set, Coolors should be good for the majority of the apps installed on your phone, with more and more added regularly.
Get Coolors icons ($1.23)
The Minimal UI icon set offers simple looking icons for more than 720 apps. Users can even send requests for new icons to be added in future updates via an online form. This particular icon set currently costs $ from the Play Store.
Get Minimal UI Icons ($1.49)
Updated frequently. If you want a truly minimalist icon set, then look no further. With more than 1050 icons in the set, you'd have to look hard to find a popular app that doesn't have its icon restyled in the Tiny White icon pack. Best of all - it's free on the Play Store.
Get Tiny White Icon Pack (free)
If you like the look of the MeeGO OS, may it rest in peace, the MeeUI icon pack is your thing. Available in both standard and high quality in the Play Store, this icon pack contains really high quality material that'll give your Android smartphone a MeeGO look and feel without too much hassle.
The DCikonZ pack is among the more elaborate and ornate icon sets on offer. With more than 2270 HD icons on tap, this particular icon pack is impressively rich in color and quality graphics. It's also free and doesn't feature any ads.