When first working on #Muzei, one of the things I thought about was how to make the blur transition (the animation between focused and blurred states) as natural as possible.
The naïve and computationally cheap approach would be to simply crossfade the blurred and focused versions. But the digital displays in NYC that inspired the effect in the first place  did a much better job, animating the blur radius over time, just like what happens in the real world (i.e. the effect you see when a camera's depth of field changes).
Unfortunately, to achieve this effect in a UI, you'd need to blur the image on-the-fly, with a different radius for each animation frame. That's pretty computationally expensive.
However, if you create a handful of blurred 'keyframes' with different radii and crossfade between those keyframes during the animation, the transition is almost seamless—after testing this technique out for Muzei, it felt like the perfect tradeoff between visual integrity and resource usage.
Finally, you can gracefully degrade the effect for weaker devices by varying the number of keyframes on device RAM, processing power, etc. In Muzei, I use the ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice method to decide the number of keyframes to keep in memory.
Check out some more details on this tip in the attached photos!
A year ago tonight, I published my first side project, DashClock . Tonight, I'd like to introduce you to my new side project, Muzei, which is now open source and live on Google Play!
Get it on Google Play: get.muzei.co
Check out the source: code.muzei.co
Muzei is a live wallpaper that gently refreshes your home screen each day with famous works of art. It also recedes into the background, blurring and dimming artwork to keep your icons and widgets in the spotlight. Simply double touch the wallpaper or open the Muzei app to enjoy and explore the artwork in its full glory.
Alternatively, you can choose your favorite photos from your own gallery or other apps to use on your home screen. To keep your wallpaper fresh, Muzei will rotate through your favorite photos every few hours.
Muzei is also developer-friendly. In addition to being open source, it offers a simple API that allows you to build your own wallpaper source. For API details, visit api.muzei.co. The API should look pretty familiar to those of you who've built a DashClock extension before (even though it's completely different under the hood).
Featured artwork in Muzei is curated daily by my art teacher fiancée and me. The artwork images are thanks to WikiPaintings.org and its fantastic contributors.
Over the next few days/weeks, I'll be sharing more about the project: what inspired it, how it was built, and the thought process for some of my favorite design elements (some of which I've hinted at in previous posts).
And lastly, some fun facts for the curious:
• Muzei was imagined, designed, and built right here in chilly New York City—a city that never ceases to inspire. I highly recommend a visit, especially to Lincoln Center.
• "muzei" is a transliteration of the Russian word музей, which means “museum.”
With that, enjoy the app, and let me know what you think in the comments!
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