Use Google Draw to Make Custom Wallpapers for Mobile Devices


"Be Careful What You Ask Me When I'm Fresh From An Ed Tech Conference" 

 I was sitting with a friend Sunday evening after the Palo Alto GAFE Summit, in the Palo Alto Creamery when she asks me, "There's gotta be a way to like write something witty and make it the background on my iPhone, right?" Immediately I had about three things come to mind. However, the one I liked the best was using some of the new tricks I had just learned from James Petersen (@jpetersen02) at the GAFE Summit.

 "YEAH! You can totally make it in Google Drawing, and then save it as a .PNG in your Google Drive on your MacBook, then open it in the Google Drive app on the have the Google Drive app, right?  NO?  Why not?...okay, never mind. Download the G-Drive app, and then save it from there to your camera roll. Presto!"

This is something that isn't that hard, but there are a handful of little steps, that are easier to see, so I thought I would do a quick blog post about this #StupidTechTrick, because part of me thinks this might be a good way to personalize tablets in a 1:1 setting.  I also wanted to see if anyone else in the Ed Tech world could think of another use for this trick.

Also, it should be noted that this will work with iOS mobile devices as well as Android ones.

Step 1: Figure out what is the resolution of your device.  You can find this out with a google search.  In this case we're talking about iPhone 5 which has a listed resolution of 1136 x 640--this measurement is in pixels.  We're going to reverse the order of these because most people wants their wallpaper in the "portrait" orientation.

Step 1a: Open up a new Google Drawing and then click FILE>Page Setup and change the size of the Canvas of your drawing to "Custom".  Make sure you put the narrow side (smaller number) the width--in other word the first number.

Change the canvas to a custom size.

Switch the unit type to pixels.

Set the measurements.

After clicking OK, you should have a tall, narrow canvas.

Step 2: Here you need to do the creative design work.  You can start by changing the background color by right clicking on the checkerboard pattern (which is an an indicator the the background is transparent), alternatively, you can lay down a textbox or other shape(s) to fill in the space.  You can also select images from your computer, Google Drive or from the web. 

If you are an iPhone user keep in mind that the bottom portion of the screen is always taken up with the dock that has your 4 always-on-screen apps.  For Android users this varies a lot by device.

PROTIP: If you are going to get images from the web, look for the .PNG file type since these have the potential for transparent backgrounds.  

Perhaps, change the background.

Add images, graphics and text.

Step 3: Download your masterpiece in a chosen form.  I usually use .PNG but I think a .JPG would work just as well.  After you have done this, upload the file you just downloaded back into your Google Drive--make sure this is one of the Google Drive accounts that you have linked to your mobile app.  And yes, you can have more than one account linked to the mobile app--Google is awesome.

PROTIP: If you have the Google Drive desktop client, you can just drag the downloaded picture into the right folder, or, depending on your settings, you might be able to download it right into your Google Drive via the desktop client. (Is your mind blown?)

Download your desired file type.

Step 4: Once you have the desired .PNG or .JPG into your Google Drive, switch to the phone or tablet you want to put the new picture on as a wallpaper.  

Open up the Google Drive app and find the picture--look for ".png" and the thumbnail preview to make sure it's the picture file and not the Google Draw file.  Once you've found it, download it onto the phone (or whatever device). 

Make sure your Drive app is up to date and has all your most recent files.
You can do this by dragging down on the opening screen and getting the little flipping color circle.

Navigate to the place in your Google Drive that you uploaded the picture to.

Open that file and tap on the 3 dots.

Choose Save to Camera Roll (in iOS devices) or whatever location on your device.

Step 5: Now that you have the picture on the phone that you want to make it the wallpaper of, switch to the Photos app (on an iOS device).  In case you have never done this, I have included screenshots below.

NOTE: iOS has a feature called "Perspective Zoom" with wallpapers that causes the picture to enlarge a bit and may cause the edges of the picture to disappear.  If you're okay with that, no worries.  If you don't like it, you can use the pinch-zoom gesture to shrink the image and turn this off, so the whole image fits as you intended.

Tap the share symbol (in iOS), this will give you several options.

Look down at the bottom row of options.
You may have to side-scroll to Find the "Use as Wallpaper" control.

Perspective Zoom is a slight enlargement to facilitate the parallax effect.
If you don't like this you can pinch a little to get the whole picture to show at once.

If you have pinched the screen will show that Perspective Zoom is off.

Tap set and pick which screens you want this image to appear on.
Home screen" is where the icons for your apps live. The :lock screen" is what you see what the phone is locked.

...and Presto!

You're Full of Win!