The parallax effect is one of the signature features of iOS 7. It creates the illusion of a third dimension on the home screen, with the icons floating above the wallpaper, moving independently. Tilt your phone and the background slides and tilts beneath your icons.
Android users can get the same experience with a new app that sets a live, parallax-inspired mountain and lake scene as your wallpaper. Mountains Now takes its design cue from the illustrated mountains found in Google Now: the default scenery for those not cool enough to live in a city where Google has created a custom illustration.
Along with the mountain range, Mountains Now has lakes and tiny sailboats that float across the screen. The scene slowly moves from right to left, with a large mountain that cycles through the foreground.
After downloading the app from the Google Play Store, tap and hold on the home screen to select a new wallpaper (if your Android device doesn't support selecting wallpaper this way, you may have to dip into the Settings menu).
Two buttons will appear at the bottom of the screen: Select and Settings. Touch the Settings button to view some very important options. One of the most critical is the frames per second. By default it is set rather low, and it is a good idea to keep it there or even lower it it by sliding the bar to the left. A high setting may quickly drain your battery.
Also, if you like the live background but don’t care for the parallax effect, it can be turned off.
Under “Theme Selection” choose from among the four themes that coincide with times of the day: dawn, day, dusk and night. The beginning and end of the day offer little sun and a darkened sky, while the daytime is bright and sunny. Touch “Time Changing” if you want the scene to reflect the actual time.
If you want all the themes to rotate but are particular about when they should change, you can set the times for the transition under “Set Daylight Times.” There are several other customizations that allow you to tweak how Mountains Now looks and performs.
A free version of Mountains Now is available for those looking to give it a trial run. The full edition is the oddly-priced $1.63.