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Introducing Muzei Live Wallpaper: A living museum for your Android home screen.

A year ago tonight, I published my first side project, DashClock [1]. 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 +Liza Gordon 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!

#Android

[1] https://plus.google.com/+RomanNurik/posts/YspU5u3rUoq
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209 comments
 
Amazing! Loved that you implemented blur/dim options + our photos and the attention to detail is great. Great work and thanks for sharing Roman!
 
No image, lots of sad retry puzzle piece. I'm guessing the server is getting slammed? 
 
Looks very nice! Reminds me of Pattrn which is a source of joy and surprise on my phone that I couldn't imagine being without. I suspect this will create the same kind of joy. ;)
 
What is the calendar widget in the screen shots on the Google Play page?
 
This is fantastic. So stoked, thanks!
 
+Brandon Tiller If you're seeing Grumpy McPuzzles, that's not good :-( Very possible it's a server issue. If you can capture a bugreport or any other details and email to support at muzei dot co that'd be great.
 
+Roman Nurik You create an RGBA 8888 GL surface, you only need an RGB 888 in your case.
 
+Romain Guy I think I need RGBA for the intro screen but possibly only RGB for the wallpaper. Had some weirdness when using RGB though. Will continue to explore, especially since memory use is a big area for improvement currently. 
 
Great app, and thanks for open sourcing it. The double tap to focus is a nice touch.
 
The only reason to use RGBA is if you use premultiplied compositing which is not necessary in your case since your surface is opaque.
 
Hands down the most beautiful LWP I've ever used.the presentation is phenomenal,most full-fledged apps don't look this good.awesome work Roman! Love it.
 
+Roman Nurik this is brilliant. Thanks for the app. I have one idea. If it gives the choice of pics from 500px also, that will be good too. what do you think?
 
I personally love being able to see Grumpy McPuzzles again.
 
+Ashish Banerjee there's an example source in the project showing how to use 500px photos. I intentionally didn't make it built-in :-)
 
Awesome!

Maybe someday chromecast wallpaper source as well :) 
 
Beautiful interface, Roman. Works great on N7 except I can only choose from camera photos, not albums.
 
Great work! This is gonna be my wallpaper. I'm also expecting the derived versions from this.
 
+David Chandler hm, you should be able to press the "+" button to choose stuff? as an alternative, you can open Gallery to the photo you want and then do overflow > Set as > Wallpaper (using Muzei)
 
+Tomy Thomson good idea, will consider that. data use is pretty light though. Featured Art downloads once a day, and the art is around a meg on average.
 
Love it! Beautiful interface and a very simple but unique idea. Thanks for melding art and tech into a lovely package. :)
 
Hi Roman, yes, the + button shows only Recent | Drive | Images | Downloads, but my G+ albums from Gallery aren't shown in any of those, only photos taken with the device camera.
 
+David Chandler Ah, I think that's a feature gap in the G+ or Gallery app then… would be cool if it exposed albums to the KitKat storage provider.
 
Set as wallpaper directly from Gallery does work FYI.
 
If I could say one thing to add, please add the option to set different blurs for lockscreen and launcher. Otherwise, great app! I love it!
 
Pictures aren't loading for me. All it says is Grumpy McPuzzles recommends a different picture. But a picture won't even load. I'm on lg g2 Btw. Running PA. Please advise. 
 
Ok thanks Roman! Looking forward to it. 
 
This is a seriously cool UX, Roman. You've created some really tasteful additions to the Android ecosystem.
 
Unfortunately i have a G2 and double tap is used to turn the screen off. Very sharp looking app though. 
 
Absolutely gorgeous app, everything is incredibly thought-out. Very well done!

It'd be great to include an option to use the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day for the background!
 
Great work! Looking gorgeous on my N5!
 
stunning app!

gratitude for sharing the source \m/
 
+Roman Nurik BTW, I don't think you need to use a software layer in your case. You're not drawing many paths. I did in my demo because each state on the map is a separate path and they cover a large area of the screen.
 
+Romain Guy without the software layer I was seeing intermittent flickering of dash lengths :-(
 
Awesome! Waited a long time for such live wallpaper :) Спасибо!
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+Roman Nurik sorry to bug you but is it possible to add a feature (possible in future update) to select multiple pics at once from a folder in "My Photos" option. Currently each time we have to click the "+" icon and then navigate to the folder and select images one by one. Multiple selections at once from a single folder will be great.
 
+Romain Guy Thanks for your suggestion :) but long press to multi-select is not working in this app for me [ GNex stock 4.3 ] 
 
If that's what Android UI is going to look like in the future, I definitely am not switching to a different OS. I love the interface of the app and all the tiny details such as rounded dots in the more/setting icon and gorgeous tickboxes. Good job, +Roman Nurik, again. 
 
+Roman Nurik it would be great if I could pick an entire folder containing my wallpapers instead of photo by photo.
 
I want to try this app so bad, but nothing is loading for me! It wont load "Featured Art" or even random images from my photos. When I try to "Choose specific photos instead" and select a few, it's like the settings don't change, and it still wont load anything.

I'm on an LG G2 running CyanogenMod 11, if it helps. I see another commenter having issues is on an LG G2 as well.

 I love DashClock, so I know this will be great!
 
+Roman Nurik Oh sorry, didn't read your comment on the LG G2 before posting. Hope you get it sorted out relatively easy.
 
Aaaand Roman Nurik  wins the internets again! Thanks for this app!
 
+Roman Nurik great looking wallpaper only thing that always makes me worried with live wallpapers is the batter life but I doubt that this would do much to that. 
 
Absolutely gorgeous. I've been needing something like this forever! Great job man! 
 
Once again, what you only called a "side project" turned out as an awesome app.. Well done! I hope to find some time to collaborate with the project.. 
 
Awesome idea to make the wallpaper blurry. 
 
I commend you for making it open source. 
 
Great app. It's really nice! I'm sure that I'll learn a lot digging in the code. A suggestion: Daydream. 
 
+Romain Guy multi select for this app worked with "photos" app and not working with stock gallery app. Just found. Thanks for your help
 
Beautiful! This might be the first time I use a live wallpaper.
 
Absolutely lovely application! One question though +Roman Nurik  ... How did you license the images? I've wanted to create a similar application in the past, and found licensing to be a real pain in the ar*e.
 
I love how the app launches and exits with the image position in sync with the wallpaper, making the transition between app and home screen completely seamless. Superb!
 
I've only had it for a few seconds so it's too early to really judge, but this is really gorgeous so far. 
 
Hmmm, unfortunately I was told by Google Play it was not compatible with my New Zealand Samsung G3, strange.

Installed happily on my Nexus 7
 
Crashes on start up on my S3 running Cyanogenmod 10.2 with Nova Launcher 2.3 beta (only launcher I have)
 
Nice work. Will all g+albums be available in gallery picker ? And whole folders /albums? 
 
Looks stunning but it doesn't work here. I get either the puzzle piece or a black bg. I'm using the latest omni rom nightly on an Oppo Find5.
 
Double tap brings me Google Now up. Nexus 4 running stock KitKat.

Otherwise, good work, спасибо!
 
Weird how it doesn't work on the G2. Not sure if that's a hardware thing or software thing, seeing as a lot of people run a custom ROM on it. 
 
This is an amazing application, and having it open-source just perfect! Double tap to focus, integratable api, loading art... You're so cool :) Congs. and Thanks a lot!
 
+Tony Pettinato Seems the double tap might cause some problems with G2 Double tap stock ROM feature. 
 
+Tadej Rudec I'm running a custom ROM and the image doesn't even load. That seems to be the biggest issue.
 
+Roman Nurik It seems like maybe some permissions is missing or wrong folder usage? I'm getting this when I start the app

net.nurik.roman.muzei E/muzei_ArtworkCache: Error loading and caching current artwork.
java.io.FileNotFoundException: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/net.nurik.roman.muzei/cache/artcache/temp.download: open failed: ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
at com.google.android.apps.muzei.util.IOUtil.readFullyWriteToFile(IOUtil.java:190)

Hope this helps!
 
From the lead developer of Freshbacks (somewhat a "competing" app): Kudos to you +Roman Nurik, awesome app! :-)
 
I always wanted to make an app which featured a new high quality wallpaper each day. Now I won't have to, thanks +Roman Nurik !
 
"Музей" (muzei) is the Bulgarian word for "Museum" as well :)
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+Roman Nurik  Just curious, any particular reason for using EventBus over Otto? Seemed a bit odd considering you used OkHttp and Picasso already.
 
+Kavi Dhokia I tried Otto but eventbus worked better for my needs and felt more flexible. No particular other reason
 
+Jeff Gilfelt the activity doesn't render the image at all :-) just sends wallpaper commands

+Marcos Placona most are public domain from wikipaintings. Still exploring fair use as well since these are purely for contemplation. 
 
This wallpaper is amazing.  It's inspired me to clean up the clutter that is my home screen so I can get a better look at it.  :)
 
+Roman Nurik Beautiful app, I absolutely adored it the second I opened it. I don't believe it fully lives up to its name, however, because there doesn't appear to be any way to get more information about the artist or painting. Typically in a museum a painting is chosen and displayed in context with other pieces of art, and the card next to it gives some insight into that. Have you given any thought into perhaps displaying an information box or something of the sort when double-tapping the artwork?
 
+Roman Nurik Using a custom ROM on the LG G2 (CM), the app doesn't display anything other than a black screen. Apparently everyone on reddit using a custom ROM are experiencing the same thing.
 
+Roman Nurik the photo picker has a pretty awesome design, hope we'll something similar in android soon ;)
 
What is that photos app, I need to know!
 
+Ryan Graham I had the same issue. Are you using KitKat? I checked out the source and removed android:maxSdkVersion="18" on the WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission and then it worked. Seems like the method to get the best possible cache dir gets some dirs that it shouldn't on custom ROMS, so it actually needs the permission. +Roman Nurik 
 
+Marius Greve Hagen Yeah I am on kit kat. Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a shot.
 
First off this is great AND I LOVE the Dim and BLUR effects. Gives new life to some of my images.

Any thought on making the interval customize able also? I am sure some would like the image to change more frequently.

I can see where this would sort of defeat the purpose if you trying to go for a sort of "quote of the day" type idea but I was just curious.
 
+Keoki Sing I thought about doing that but decided against it, at least for v1, to keep things simple. I also like that everyone using the featured art source will get to enjoy the same wallpaper every day. 
 
Were you thinking of creating a Muzei community here on Google+? I've really found the DashClock one useful and you'd need one for beta testing eventually - might make sense to create an official one before 30 of them pop up
 
Man, you are an amazing coder and have great style.
Saludos de Mexico
 
The animations and transitions are amazing, thank you! 
 
Wish I wasn't at work so I could try it out...

I did download, so I'm patiently waiting for break. lol

It would be cool to link this to the wallpaper folder I have on Drive.
 
This is amazing! The only thing I think it needs is a parallax effect, like some live wallpapers do when you tilt your phone around. Similar to what iOS 7 does now with all wallpapers. 
 
Elegant app. Could it also allow you to see the whole painting on screen, so allow black borders top and bottom or at the sides if you zoom out?
 
Two things I must point out:

1. Is there a way to set Muzei to only use wallpapers in the public domain (author dead before 1914) or from artists whose whole catalog is proven to be with a free cultural license (CC-By-SA, CC-By, CC-Zero)?
2. "Muzei", besides of meaning "Museum" in Russian, also happens to mean "Museums" (notice the plural) in Ido (an artificial language closely related to Esperanto)
 
Using a moto RAZR M with 4.1.2 and this is not compatible with my device :( will compatibility come on a future update? 
 
Absolutely gorgeous and simple. Love it! 
 
A double tap on my LG G2 locks the device. Would you consider adding a option for a 2-finger tap to deblur the art?
 
Fantastic! Thank you so very much for sharing this with us!
Could we get a Romain Guy daily photo gallery option inside Muzei too? :)
 
Hola, es compatible con los Xperia t. Gracias... 
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What calendar widget is that?
 
+Roman Nurik Could you please share how did you export the glyph paths (the ones in LogoPaths.java) - is it possible with Photoshop?
 
Hi, 

I think it is a great idea if you can use the preview screens from Muzei for DayDream.

There aren't lots of good DayDream applications. I feel like it wouldn't be too hard to use the previews for DayDream
 
+J.J. Valenzuela +Zhelyazko Atanasov I actually used Illustrator. The typeface is Alegreya from Google Fonts. I wrote out the logotext, tweaked kerning a bit, and then 'expanded' the text to form the paths. I then resized the artboard to hug the text with some small margins. Then, I exported to SVG with save-as and ripped out the actual encoded paths to feed into the Android parser I wrote.
 
Excellent app. Would it be possible for the "My photos" portion to have the ability to just select a directory/directories? I'd like to be able to select a "wallpaper" directory rather than adding in each individual photo Perhaps that's a different plugin.
 
Very nice app, Roman. I noticed one bug: When I turn my Nexus 7 horizontally, the blur settings are ignored (image stays dimmed but no longer blurred). It blurs back again after I turn the tablet vertically.
 
It's beautifully polished, +Roman Nurik. I'd just suggest to try and do something with wallpaper visibility in recents apps menu - it's main reason why I don't like live wallpapers (the other is resource hunger). Talking about future Android update of course. 
 
+Roman Nurik ripping out the encoded paths is the trick... how did you do that and what does your parser do?
 
+J.J. Valenzuela oh I literally copied and pasted from the SVG (don't recall which element and attribute offhand) into the Java code. 
 
+Roman Nurik lol. Awesome. Was the parser complicated? I assume that's on the open source code also? 
 
+Roman Nurik you always set the bar for beautiful, simplistic UI/UX.  Looking forward to digging through your code to learn your magic.

Feature request: Is there anyway to add the ability to force the wallpaper to change, possibly via a gesture?
 
+Roman Nurik thank you for all your guidance, info, and for really lovely apps and contributions to the Android community.
 
Looks very nice, but sadly, after trying to change the settings, it displays black background on Nexus 5 with GEL. :(
 
+Roman Nurik would it take a second app to make it stay clear on the lockscreen? Just curious...
 
Great app, would be nice if I could set custom time instead of just 1, 4, 6, 12 or 24hrs.
Something between 10 and 30 min would be nice 
 
+Zoltan Demant why thank you! needs tests though. man do i suck at writing—well not writing—tests.
 
Looks lush. Can't run it on 4.1.2 Samsung galaxy s2 tho :-( 
 
You just made a dream come true: a live wallpaper without lag, kitkat upgraded, free and open source.

A thank you isn't enough for this, people like you make this company so amazing to the average user
 
I used to ban them from my phone but +Roman Nurik makes me love [good] apps with splashscreen again... ;) great app!! 
 
+Roman Nurik another beautiful design. While you probably don't want to toot your own horn too much, I'm sure people would love to see how this evolved over the last year on an episode of ADiA. A special episode perhaps? 
 
this is a ton of comments so I'm sorry if I'm repeating a known issue, but it crashes at start up on my nexus 10
 
+Vicky Sofyan Okay, I just switched from using the Featured Art to My Photos, and then back again, to resolve. It's displaying different artwork from earlier, so maybe the issue lies in the 'rotate' code? +Roman Nurik 
 
+Roman Nurik you said you made the text in illustrator, do you work in mac? or windows and then linux? just curious on your setup... do you use IDEA or Eclipse?
 
This is really great stuff! I would love more curated collections - contemporary, movements, regions, etc. But what a beautiful app and upgrade for my phone.
 
Hey, a new painting every day but not today?
 
Gorgeous!  Now if only they implement this as default or built in into android. Also the ability for other apps to key in into muzei is brilliant. reddit sync pro can do this
 
+Daniel Müller  It should be "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte", but it doesn't seem to be loading for me.
 
+David Scarth It wasn't working for me either. But then I cleared its data in app settings and it worked fine.
 
as others reported, black screen on LG G2
 
We're looking into the black screen and stale photo issues folks! Please send any logs or bugreports to support at muzei dot co
 
Someone may have said this but a shuffle mode would be nice, for example shuffling between the images from two different plugins.  Love your work, Roman!
Ryan M
 
+Roman Nurik this is so great! Any chance of seeing picture download support? Id love to save some of these pictures locally! 
 
What's the easiest way of theming a config. activity of an extension in order to make it look like built in the Muzei app? (Transparent background and actionbar etc...) Sorry if it's a noob question      *Solved: P   I love the app BTW, it's perfect :)*
 
It would be nice if the app had some options for people with 1 home screen, namely choose where to align the image instead of aligning it all the way to the left.
 
Love it :) Using own pictures, blur & dim is amazing!
 
updated to 1.01 just now and works on my LG G2 now :)
 
+Marat Levit I second your request in regards to whole folders. I have a single folder that's dedicated for wallpapers. would be able to select folders instead of individual pics. thanks for listening
 
When does the automatic picture update execute?
 
Is it possible in the future for the sources to include RSS feeds or websites dedicated to beautiful scenery? Like interfacelift.com for instance? Also is it possible to increase the blur a tad more? Similar to what the Blur app on Android/iOS can achieve.
 
Great work! Sleek design and amazing idea behind it. Light and works like a charm! Cheers!
 
Great work +Roman Nurik!
Not sure if anyone mentioned this before, but there's a black screen bug when going to the recent apps menu. Hope you figure how to fix that.
Thank!
 
+Roman Nurik Do you know why it's not showing up on lock screen for me? Just have the wallpaper on the home screen. I have an LG G2
 
I love the wallpaper. Would you PLEASE consider adding a parallax effect option? Thank you thank you!
 
you, sir +Roman Nurik, needs a statue in front of Googleplex. Every developer needs to rub your statue for good luck. Love the new app. Works like a charm for me.
 
Awesome app! But I keep getting a black background at random and i have to open muzei and reconfigure it. Anyone have a fix for this?
 
Fantastic app, you've done an amazing job. works great on my Samsung tab 2 but would you know why my Samsung s2 is not compatible? Would love this on my phone. 
 
Is there a way to ensure the photos load centered? On my mobile it just gives me the leftmost part of the image.
 
Great app.
I am so addicted to it that when i am on my PC, i double click my desktop. LOL

+Roman Nurik Can you make it for desktop :)
 
I love it, I truely love it. 

The only concern I really have – although I know it's tricky,  is the wallpaper to be centered on the homescreen. I more or less use only my homescreen and always only seeing the left border of an otherwise great image is a little bit of a let-down.
 
Love this app, and works great on my HTC One. Unfortunately, it stops responding any time I try to configure it on my Nexus 10 w/Kit Kat. Any idea what's going on?
Phil Wu
 
Yeah Nexus 10 once it tries to blur it doesn't work anymore
 
It's a very nice application but I can't find DISABLE button...
 
Can you make this compatible with android 4.1.2 please? 
 
I'm having trouble choosing specific pictures from my gallery. It does give me random pictures from my gallery but I can't find a way to choose only specific pictures.
 
First, what a beautiful and great app!

I tried to import it into Android Studio but it didn't work. ("The project is using an unsupported version of the Android Gradle plug-in (0.7.3)") Any clue?
 
I'd love to use this but it crashes o my nexus 10 every time I move from portrait to landscape. 
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