Thoughts on live wallpapers, smoothness and Android.

I discovered a fantastic live wallpaper on Android Police today. It's called Space Colony and it's absolutely gorgeous.Why do I mention that? It's because it got me thinking: a lot of people (mostly non-Android users in my experience) make fun of live wallpapers, think that Google shouldn't count them towards the total app count in the Play Store and think that there is no point to them.

I disagree with those points: having a lovely live wallpaper running in the background makes me appreciate my Android experience even more. It makes the experience more *fun* and enjoyable for me.

Having a smooth experience is also important: not skipping frames while scrolling between homescreens, switching between apps and scrolling in apps is important to me - not because it actually makes my device more useful (skipping frames does not make the experience slower, it just makes it jankier) but because it's a more enjoyable experience to have a smoothly-scrolling device. I have that device in the Nexus 4.

However, I also realize that a lot of Android handsets are not as smooth as the Nexus 4 and have a some (or a lot) of dropped frames. My point is this: how can some people call live wallpapers pointless while extolling the virtues of their stutter-free iPhone/WP handset?

In the end, it's mostly an aesthetic consideration: if I scroll from one homescreen to the other on my Android device and the device takes the same time taking me from one homescreen to the other, it doesn't matter (from a usability perspective) if the scrolling was stuttery or smooth. It took the same time taking me from one homescreen to the other - so I'd argue that smooth scrolling is just that: an aesthetic point providing a pleasant experience through the beauty of smooth movement.

It's the same with a live wallpaper: having the wallpaper running in the background does not actually matter from a usability perspective. It does not offer any additional function (although there are some expections to this) - it's just there for aesthetic purposes. It makes my experience more pleasant through aesthetics.

This is why I'd argue that it's a bit hypocritical of people to make fun of Android's lack of smoothness (either real or alleged, depending on the handset) in comparison to the smoothness of their iOS/WP/BBOS/whatever handsets while at the same time saying that live wallpapers are pointless. If you think about it, the function of smooth scrolling and live wallpapers is way closer than any of those people would be willing to admit: they both enrich the experience through aesthetics.

Feel free to disagree with me. In fact I encourage it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please keep it civil.

PS. lagginess is another matter entirely. If I try to open the dialer and it takes five seconds to do that, then yes, that's not an aesthetic consideration - this is horrible lag. I'm talking about smoothness here, which IMO is not a term interchangable with lagginess.