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Android 14's new AI wallpapers are great, but Backdrops still has my heart

Google almost won me over, but there's nothing like unique artist creations.
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Published onOctober 18, 2023

android 14 ai wallpaper next backdrops wallpaper homescreen
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Rare are the third-party Android applications that I’ve been using for more than five years. Even rarer are the ones that have stuck with me for eight. But Backdrops Wallpapers lives among that rare breed of apps that have been just as perfect for me the day they were announced as they are now. I have to admit, though, that I cheated on Backdrops last week with Android 14’s cool new AI wallpapers, and I almost, nearly, just about, went over to the dark side. But I caught myself before it was too late and came back to Backdrops.

What do you think of generative AI wallpapers?

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The allure of Google’s AI-generated wallpapers

google pixel 8 pro ai wallpaper 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Google knew what it was doing with its AI-generated wallpapers. Instead of Midjourney‘s blank canvas forcing me to conjure up ideas out of thin air, Google guides me through a clear path of 12 preset categories of specific sentence structures with a few options for items, animals, plants, styles, and colors. I don’t have to spend hours learning generative AI prompt structures, nor do I need to be an expert on different minerals, plants, insects, or art styles. The options are right there for me to pick from.

Besides lowering the entry barrier, Google’s results are also excellent as far as wallpapers go. At least for my taste. Most of them are graphic, abstract, simple, often eery and vague, and those are the kinds of wallpapers I like on my phone. I have five icons and five icon folders, plus the At A Glance widget on my home screen, so I prefer simpler backgrounds that make it easy to parse information or spot the right app icon. And the new Android 14 AI wallpapers fit the bill perfectly. Even the ones that are a little busier than the rest still leave enough room at the bottom and top to place my icons and widgets.

Google's AI wallpapers are easy to make, customizable, mostly abstract, and infinite.

And finally, there’s the infinity and personalization factor. Because these wallpapers are AI-generated, I can pick the color that I want (among preset options, yes, but most of them offer all color choices) and regenerate as many versions and interpretations as I need. There’s an endless pit of creations instead of a limited selection, and I get to customize them to my taste. No regular wallpaper app offers that.

Here are some of my favorite Android 14 wallpaper creations; you can also find the full-resolution version in this Google Drive link.

Still, Backdrops won me back

backdrops wallpaper app
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

For a few days, I was happily creating different and unique wallpapers for my Pixel 8 Pro‘s home screen until I stopped and gave it some extra thinking.

For one, Google’s wallpapers are exclusive to Android 14 on the Pixel 8 series, unlike Backdrops, which is available on any Android phone as well as iOS and iPadOS. I don’t like lock-in if I can avoid it, and wallpapers are not high on the list of features for which I’d break that personal rule.

Second, I’ve grown used to Backdrops’ automatic wallpaper switch. Every day I get two new wallpapers on my home screen out of my personal favorites. No boredom. And because Backdrops’ style is often consistent, the change doesn’t feel jarring at all. (Forget the Community tab; anyone can upload wallpapers there. Focus on the Explore and Collections tabs for the unique creations.)

Backdrops rotates my wallpaper every 12 hours from a series of beautiful artist creations.

And finally, and more importantly, I want to keep encouraging amazing human creators as much and as long as I can. The designers behind Backdrops have done an excellent job for eight years. I’ve seen their styles and graphics evolve, and their color usage and combinations improve. I’ve watched as the complexity of their wallpapers, from textures to shadows and highlights, took many leaps forward. Despite being graphical and sometimes abstract, their creations have the precision and minutiae that Google’s generated wallpapers don’t. I purchased the pro version of Backdrops many years ago and I still get value out of it every day. Because the team releases several new wallpapers every week, there’s no room to get bored.

As a writer, my job is in as much jeopardy as many other creators out there. I like to think that I’m an artist with words and I understand what other artists are going through now. I can’t turn my back around and start using an AI wallpaper app now. That feels like a cop-out — treason to my people. So as long as the Backdrops team is pumping out original wallpapers that fit my taste, they have my business and my unwavering recommendation.