Wallpapers and iOS 7: A big pain in the parallax

“Yesterday I released my first set of wallpapers, and the response has been quite gratifying,” Chuq Von Rospach writes. “I want to say thanks to those of you who’ve been downloading them and passing along the new images. But that said, the release of the images was about a week later than I’d originally hoped, and to be honest, I’m not entirely happy with the wallpapers for the IOS devices, especially the tablet. Apple’s made generating wallpapers for IOS 7 a fair pain in the parallax.”

“The way they implement the new parallax effect on their backgrounds is to scale an image to a larger size, and then as you swing your device up or down or side to side, shift the image around the screen a bit,” Von Rospach writes. “If you do what Apple’s done and build abstract backgrounds, that’s fine. There’s a long tradition of subject-oriented wallpapers, though, and the way Apple’s built things in IOS7 ignores that use case completely, and creates a big case of heartburn for people trying to build it.”

“If you are a photographer building wallpapers out of your images, and one that’s trying to take some care about image quality, just having your images stretched by some unknown algorithm before display is going to cause you to reach for the Maalox. But it gets worse,” Von Rospach writes. “Those lost edges can be significant to the image. If you look at this image on your computer screen, and then install it on the IOS device and look at it, suddenly a non-trivial part of the image is gone. The framing and composition that a photographer probably did in creating that image is damaged.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Chuq’s all worried about “framing and composition” of images that, he seems to forget, as wallpaper will have text and/or icons splattered all over them.

53 Comments

    1. @ Matt: how ironic that Apple would have spent so much effort in improving the camera functions of the iPhone 5S, only to implement such a shoddy place to display the most commonly viewed photo that any iPhone user will ever see.

      Some people have higher standards than others. Don’t fault Von Rospach for being more professional than you.

      1. I don’t know what he’s talking about, actually. I’ve had nothing but success with my wallpapers. Well, if you ignore the error part of trial and error 🙂

        However, I sorted it out!

    2. to you it may be a trivial thing and you may see the wallpaper as just something apps appear on top of, and you are right. but i believe a point is missing. it is THIS exact attention to detail that sets Apple apart from the competition – fretting over details to get one little thing we don’t notice just right.

      so yes, Chuq might be ranting and a little over-sensitive to what most people only see as a wallpaper, an afterthought. but we should be encouraging this effort of perfectionism in all our apps and experiences on devices – it’s what makes us feel compelled to use them and WANT to use and touch them.

        1. Jobs created Apple’s mystique largely by offering only those essential features that Apple could do well, better than the competition.

          iOS7, like OS X 10.7 and 10.8, offer much optional unnecessary fluff and “features” that do nothing to add efficiency or legibility to the end user. Cheap 3d-esque parallax simply does nothing valuable for a phone — except perhaps draw attention away from how bad the boring flat icons are.

          1. Jobs was a master at stripping out the nonessential. But he was human, too. There were unnecessary “fluff and features” in previous versions of OS X and iOS under Jobs. It is not apparent to me that iOS 7 represents an escalation. By the way, don’t fancy icons qualify as fluff? The flat ones work just fine…

            That said, the parallax function does seem to be a gee whiz effect without practical merit or benefit. Perhaps Tim and Jon are incrementally paving the way towards a 3-D interface in the future? I don’t know. But it doesn’t really bother me. I am more concerned about practical things, such as the fact that Safari in iOS 7 has crashed on me several times in the past week. That is not the rock solid stability that I have enjoyed in previous versions of iOS. That is the type of thing that deserves more attention and discussion, not parallax and flat icons.

    3. Grwat photographers make their living on seeing and controlling photogrsphic details that others don’t ever recognize. We have a saying for problems like this: designers run amuck.

    1. Designers if they are any good design to set parameters they don’t set the parameters themselves that’s why they are called designers. Fine artists can set their own parameters but then by so doing they accept they may limit how and where their art can be shown or used. Has the real world suddenly changed I wonder and sculptors are telling architects how to build around their statues.

  1. Can we all admit now that some of the things Mr. Ive has done with iOS 7 were form over function, or just for the sake of change?

    For example, Safari…I do like the new blue navigation icons, and don’t mind the bright white (although, I’m not sure it is “better than it was when it was grey) I cannot stand the thin blue loading line, it is stupid. It was intuitive for it to be in the address bar, it made sense, the thin blue line on the other hand, well it sucks.

    Parallax is nothing more than stupid eye candy, methinks Ive wasted too many man hours and resources on this…

    1. That thin blue line on the tab allows the user to see the page loading progress should they navigate to another tab. I find it very useful and purposeful. If this was in the address bar progress would only be visible for the active tab.

  2. It is a pain, what used to fit on your lock screen… does not anymore.
    you can’t pinch/zoom at all on the iPad anymore. as soon as you let go, it goes right back to zoomed in.

    What used to fit perfectly, now zooms in 50% and you can’t change it.
    Pain in the butt to deal with, hope Apple fixes it.

    1. Agreed! I’ve given up trying to use my own photos for lock screen – they don’t fit and they can’t be adjusted any more. I’m stuck using the pathetic stock wallpapers that came with iOS7 that all the other hacks that can’t shoot a photo with anything else besides their iPhone are using.

    1. First world problems are problems worth solving. Technology can introduce endless small annoyances and glitches, or it can just work. When little odd cases are handled elegantly we don’t notice, but we get more important things done.

      As a software developer, I take the small annoyances of my users seriously. Just as I take the small annoyances I encounter with other people’s software seriously. In both cases the result is a small amount of wasted time, multiplied by lots of people. This small annoyances add up, slow other work, or take a little creative joy out of something as simple as creating your own wallpaper.

  3. What am I missing here?

    Does the author not understand that parallax works by having an image larger than the display area and then moving the image up, down, left or right based on the device movement?

    It seems like a pretty simple and obvious concept from the get-go.

    As such, isn’t it obvious that if you want to use an image that is sized to the larger dimensions so it’s not scaled and lowered in quality? Isn’t it also obvious that if you have something important on the side of an image, that it will be hidden due to the parallax effect on that side? Isn’t it obvious that if you then have the choice of turning off parallax if you want to use the image without it being partially hidden?

    The author sounds like a total eggplant to me.

    1. Turn parallax off, it doesn’t matter.
      Go read the Apple forums, nothing works. thats why everyone thinks there is a bug.

      the only way to get it to work, add empty pixels to the edges of your picture.

      With Parallax turned off.. you shouldn’t have to do that.

    2. It’s not just a matter of the content photo having to be larger – iOS7 is indiscriminately cropping the photo to unknown dimensions, then won’t allow you to alter that crop.

      I shoot several different D-SLRs, I know how to frame and crop a photo. No matter what I try to do with my photos iOS crops them in the strangest configurations I’ve ever seen when I try to set them as my lock screen photo. I understand that their algorithm is trying to concentrate on what it perceives as the focal point of the photo, I’ve yet to see it crop the photo anywhere near what I think is the focal point, or in a logical manner. Even turning parallax off, it still attempts to auto-crop delivering horrible results.

      I just want one of my photos on my lock screen, it shouldn’t consume 30 minutes of my time trying to make it happen. And result in me giving up, forced to use their stock photos, instead of being able to personalize my device.

  4. I’m a meat & potatoes kind of guy. I like my fare simple, downed with a glass of beer. Simple American cooking. Nothing complicated. Nothing jazzed up. None of that foo foo French cooking for me. Too esoteric, too foo foo, too hipster. Besides, it’s French, so style probably triumphs over substance.

    We seem to have a Frenchified Brit amongst the ranks of the Apple glitterati, a man who goes for foo foo parallax effects rather than hyper realism that is the meat & potatoes of iOS 6. No, none of that for me. I don’t want my meal served in tiny little strips of lamb garnished with foo foo dressing that can’t be discerned with the naked eye.

    I want to take this Frenchified Brit and shake him round the shoulders and say, “Wake up Jony, we don’t need your foo foo thin fonts. We’re not all hipster douchebags like you.”

    1. I see what you’re saying — Ive ruining functions to achieve his idea of fashion is overall a huge disappointment.

      However, your analogy is quite weak. Millions of French eat hearty simple fare — with a beer to wash it down. Why would anyone resort to such over-generalized ill-fitting stereotypes? The right bank of Paris does not represent France any more than Manhattan represents all of the USA.

      Moreover, you will find your Significant Other would appreciate the occasional visit to a fancy restaurant of any nationality.

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