One of the latest features to come to Pixel phones is the recently-introduced Cinematic Wallpaper. Rolled into the latest Pixel Feature Drop, Cinematic Wallpaper adds quite a bit of flare to your standard photo backdrop, using some Pixel magic to add depth and motion sensing to your wallpaper photo of choice.
You can try it out on basically any photo you have in your library, but I’ve found it to work far better with images that have a bit of foreground action going on. For instance, my images of big buildings from a recent trip to Chicago don’t give you the same depth sense that you get from a more-standard portrait. Your mileage may vary, but the effect works in different ways depending on the image.
How to turn on Cinematic Wallpaper on your Pixel phone
First up, you need to be sure you are on at least the June 2023 update. If you are reading this a bit down the road, as long as you are on the June or later update, you’ll be all good. To check and see if this is the case, simply head to Settings > System > System Update and be sure your Android Security update is June or later.
Next, you’ll want to head back out to your home screen and long-press anywhere there isn’t an app shortcut or widget in your way. You’ll see a pop-up menu at this point, and from there you’ll want to select the Wallpaper & style option and then the option to Change wallpaper under the images of your current wallpaper on the next screen and select My Photos as this effect won’t work on the standard Google-provided wallpapers.
From here, choose an image you’d like as your background and once you have that image selected, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can move that image around a bit to your liking. But additionally, you’ll see a new icon that will allow you to turn on the Cinematic Wallpaper for that particular image. Click that button and enable the effect (it’ll take a second to render).
Once the rendering is complete, you can hit that Set Wallpaper button up top and you’re all done! You’ll now have a pseudo-3D wallpaper that moves a bit when you wipe through your home screens and that animates in each time you unlock your phone. And as small as this sounds, it’s actually a really fun experience. I’ve spent quite a bit of time already just testing different images to see what the effect does, and it is pretty fun to see the results. If you haven’t yet, I’d give this one a try!