Disney Backgrounds for Windows Phone 8

Disney Backgrounds IconThere a very cool new feature in Windows Phone 8 that allows an app to be the lock screen provider for images (and other things, but I only cared about the image for this app). 

I am an avid Disney parks fan, and photography has been a hobby of mine for most of my adult life.  I wanted to make a wallpaper app for Windows Phone 7, but you just couldn’t do it with a good user experience.  You could save the images to the users photos and then they could go set them as the wallpaper.  Not what I wanted.

The app was approved for the store on December 20, go download Disney Backgrounds now.

Windows Phone 8

LockscreenAll that changed with Windows Phone 8!  Now from the lock screen settings page you can set an application for the background.  That app can then set the wallpaper, and run periodically in the background to update it.  This is exactly what I have done for this app.  The background agent runs about every 30 minutes (there are not guarantee of exact runtime from the phone).  I took a very simple approach in just randomly picking a photo from one of the collections.

I have included two photo collections as a start.  One is from Walt Disney World (in Florida), the other is from Disneyland (in California).  I have been fortunate enough to get to visit both of the parks in the past year and took some great pictures.

Disney Backgrounds App

The result of running this app is to have an awesome lockscreen image like the one shown below.  I have been running the app since late November and have been really happy with unlocking my phone! 

All of the images were taken by me over the past year and are stored within the app in HD resolution.  This means you don’t have to worry about the app grabbing a bunch of data while running, and it looks awesome on the new Windows Phone devices.


Wide Live Tile

You can also get an awesome wide tile on your start screen that looks like the following.  It animates like the default photo app using the new Cycle Tile Template.  This was very easy to add to my app, and I think it makes a great addition.


Panorama main screen

I have never figured out how to take a good screen shot of a Panoramic phone screen, so I am just going to post the images side by side below.  They will look a little weird because when you use it on the app you get a cool parallax scroll.  See the video further down for a better look.


Main-WDW Main Disneyland Pane Main Settings Pivot Main Make-A-Wish Pivot


Disney Background Video Demo

Here is a quick video I did of the entire app.  This is all running on my desktop in the phone emulator used by developers.  Don’t worry, you don’t need this.  The app should be available in the Phone Marketplace around Christmas.

Watch the Disney Background demo video on

Proceeds to go to Make-A-Wish

A fellow Flickr Disney photographer is working on a project for another mobile platform doing something similar.  I decided to do this project as a quick proof of concept (could I do it).  Once I got to the point where I knew it was possible I decided to give the proceeds from this app to Make-A-Wish.  They are a great cause, and thanks to my employer workplace contribution matching I can boost the amount of money given to the charity.

The first time I saw a child from Make-A-Wish at Disney I literally stopped and cried, then hugged my kids to count my blessings.  The work of this group to make a child happy while under going a life threatening health condition is amazing.  Even if you don’t like my app, I hope you go donate on their site.

What’s next?

I would like to add the ability for users to select a single image and save it to their photo library.  And an option to tag only those photos you want used in the lock screen rotation.  Maybe there are some images you don’t care for, and you should be able to flag them so you don’t see them.

I am also working on a Windows 8 application that does the same thing.  It will be interesting to see how that works on the larger form factor.

I also have thousands of Disney photos that I need to go through and pull more gems.  Not all of them work for lock screen or backgrounds.  Digging through the photos and cropping, sizing, etc takes a lot of time.  But it was also a lot of fun to go back through my images from this year.

Other photographers

As I mentioned above, there is a similar project going on for another platform.  That photographer managed to get a bunch of us Disney Photographers together for his app.  Maybe after he sees this he will want me to make an app for Windows Phone 8 for his collection of photos.  That would be a lot of fun.  I will add links to his project once it goes live.

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