Map Wallpaper lets you get your location at a glance

Last Saturday I got the chance to check out a Hackathon down in San Diego. It was a great event and I’ll be telling you guys about that later on. But the app that won the overall hackathon is now in the Windows Phone Store. Map Wallpaper is a clever lockscreen app that gives you your current location at a glance. Let’s check it out.

We sat around our virtual Windows Phone Central meeting room and couldn’t come up with any other apps that take over your lockscreen like this. Map Wallpaper will display your location on the lockscreen. It updates every half hour with your location. There are two variables that you control when setting up the app: map source and scale. There are a variety of maps to choose from and different scales to select.

Maps Basic:

  • Street Map
  • Aerial
  • USGS Topographic
  • Radar on Aerial Imagery
  • Radar on Street Map

Extra maps for $0.99

  • Street Bing Maps with optional traffic
  • Aerial Bing Maps with optional traffic

While most of you will be content with the free maps, you can unlock two Bing maps with optional traffic data for less than a dollar. This to me is where the app is super handy. If you’re working and heading out of the office you can just glance at your lockscreen to get an idea of traffic in your area before deciding to jump on the freeway. There’s a healthy selection of maps to choose from, but more is on the way! Try out the topographic map if you’ve got interesting hills and mountains around you.  

Depending on the map you select you’ll have different levels to choose from when selecting the scale of the map. For example selecting the one of the radar maps with weather data will give you the option of region, medium region, large region, and continent. That’s because data from radar won’t be too helpful at the street level. Bing Maps as a counter example of the following scales available: Street, city, local region, region, and large region. One thing to keep in mind when selecting scale is battery life. If you select street level your phone will be using GPS to find your specific location. While if you select something a little higher up, like region, your phone can just use cellular data to get a rough estimate of its current location. That said, I’ve been using the app for two days at various scales and haven’t noticed any negative impact on battery life.

The app is free for Windows Phone 8, but will cost just $0.99 to get Bing Maps with traffic. For being version 1.0, Map Wallpaper works with aplomb. If you have any questions or feed back hit up Morten Nielsen, the dev behind Map Wallpaper.

Grab it right here in the Windows Phone Store, use the QR code below, or swipe to the right in our app.

Sam Sabri
  • Neat. Downloading!
  • Nice
  • That's reply pretty cool, looks like a battery waster though
  • Like I said.. I've been using it for two days and haven't seen any negative impact on my battery. 
  • O ok
  • I have been using Hello Friends and it fired up every 30 minutes anyway. I do wish the GPS would coordinate so that it'll activate for all apps at the same time,or is that what it does, already?
  • Usually the GPS caches location, and Map Wallpaper does use the location cache if it's pretty recent.
  • Is there an app like this but also like "Shroud of the World" on iOS?
  • There used to be an app like this for Windows Mobile. I was thinking about it months back. Wish I knew how to code, but good on this dev for this app. Certainly giving it a go.
  • Just downloaded, giving it a try.
  • Instead of it showing me where I am, I'd rather it show where the phone is.  If the phone is lost, I'll know where it is.
  • Hehehe it does actually show where the phone is at. The article incorrectly assumes you are next to your phone at all times :-)
  • Hopefully you were just kidding :) You will know where your phone is by looking at the screen of your phone o.O
  • Are you serious? That's a joke, right?
  • When I look at my phone I can usually see that it is in my hand. Hope this helps
  • How are you going to see your lock screen if your phone is lost???
  • This guy is a joke...
  • For being free are there ads on our wallpaper?
  • Nope, no ads.
  • No, but there is a charge of 99 cents if you want to activate Bing map.
  • Do the the topographical maps work offline?  That might be nice on wilderness trips.  Too bad the offline-capable Bing maps don't have topo data... right?
  • No the maps does not support offline. Also many WP phones doesn't even support getting your location while offline
  • That's a really neat app. It's very unique.
  • Agreed. I like it a lot. I bounce between lock screen apps but will be using this for quite some time.
  • That's basically the same app as LockMapper, which I wrote to win 2nd place in the Boston hackathon a few weeks ago!  He just beat me to the store.  Lockmapper will be out soon though.
  • Really? Sorry I swear I didn't rip you off :) Let the competion continue in the store... ;-)
  • No problem.  The more competition in the store, the better!

  • Read my comment below please!
  • This app looks really nice, it didn't mention in the article though, does it work outside the US? Are there UK maps?
  • It does work in the UK. The rain radar data and topographic maps are for US only. Traffic data works whereever Bing Maps covers (which includes UK as far as I know). Unfortunately it's a little difficult to find good map services that are free or reasonably priced. I am looking for more though and will be adding as I find them
  • I thought this would be gimmicky, but then the first time I unlocked my phone only to see an aerial shot of right where I was, I was hooked.
  • Three out of five map options are US only, having a regular street map as your lock screen doesn't look anywhere near as good as topographic or weather.
  • It does look like a cool app.
    From looking at the screen shots, what I want to know is how you went from Issaquah to Mt. Rainier to Los Angeles w/in 5 minutes.... Is there an app for this  :)
  • I provided Sam with those screenshots. Yes there's an app for giving you super-sonic flight abilities, but I haven't gotten around to releasing that yet :)
  • Speaking of the lock screen.... It's my understanding that developers are only able to get the lock screen to update every 30min... So,,, if the lock screen were able to be updated every fraction of a second then would we be able to have applications that could give us graphics on our lock screen?? Sure this would use a lot of resources resulting in battery drain, but that's not the point.. I'm just wondering if anyone has been able to get pass, "hack", that pesky 30min refresh interval.. Although I might not permanently enable graphics on my lock screen, or live tile- imagine that!,, it would be cool to see a WP device have animations. IDK, this sounds extremely possible to me.. Is it?
  • It's possible when you're testing to have the refresh down to seconds, but not fast enough for animations (when you update the lock screen it still takes 1-2 seconds for that to update). Anyway it will completely drain your battery in no time.
  • Well, Android devices have graphics on the lock screen, and home screen, and the XBM tile plays graphics when music is playing without "completely draining the battery in no time", So maybe my idea is stupid, or im suggesting going about it the wrong way, but I would like to see more basic graphics, like what the XBM, or Pictures tile do, on my WP device.. Maybe if there was some way of using GIFs.. IDK.. MS really needs to update the SDK with some fun features this time around.
  • The only way to get an app to update the lockscreen faster than once every 30 minutes (in an actual production app) would be to have it running as a background location tracking app.  Then it could be running continuously.  It still couldn't update much more than once per second or two though, and it would have to be actively tracking your location to stay active (or playing audio).  For a mapping app though, you can't access the built in controls, so you need to download an image map.  That means that on top of killing your battery, it would also be killing your data plan.
  • "Acquiring location..." forever. Asia pacific region posting here as I like the concept and don't want to give feedback via a 1 star review
  • Try choosing a larger scale (region for instance), and see if that helps. Getting your location at low level which requires high accuracy can sometimes take quite some time - especially when there's a poor reception.
  • Mine is stuck as well.. Says acquiring for ages then flashed requesting background and then nothing happens.. Have scaled out as far as possible..
  • Just to confirm: The moment you switch back to any of the other maps, it just works?
  • Yeah it seems to be Bing maps that aren't working.
  • I shot you a private message via the forums.
    Update: Thanks to Aaron the problem has been identified, and a bugfix is on the way already...
  • Mine updated after 5 minutes this time, must be local cell related. Had to change lock screen timeout to allow acquisition to complete. Perhaps an action that takes this long should run in the background not be interruptible by lock screen or app going to background?
  • is there a trick to get the bing maps working? I purchased them but when I go to use them it says aquiring location then requesting wallpaper for maybe a second then nothing. (htc 8x)
  • I've identified a problem with the HTC 8x phone. I'm submitting an update tonight, so keep a look out for an update next week.
  • I have been traveling for the last 20 minutes, but the map still shows my home location. So i guess this will update every 30 min, which takes the fun factor out for me.
  • Ok...its finally showing where i went to, but i am already back home.
  • As mentioned in the app description it updates ~1/2 hour, which is a phone limitation (that's a good thing, or the apps you install could potentially drain your battery in no time)
  • Kinda just wish I could do this lockscreen with Nokia Maps. That way I can use my offline map with gps without wasting data to find my location. However, I don't need my location on my lockscreen anyway...I usually know where I am and you still need to use apps for real navigation.
  • Good suggestion, but unfortunately not possible to convert Nokia Maps into a lockscreen image. Also the point of the app is not so much to show where you are (as you said you usually know that), but to give you a new fun map to look at, or show you current traffic or weather conditions.
  • I got the app and bought the Bing maps too. But all I get is the initial lock screen (red) and slow shutter captured traffic. Is this app a ripoff?
  • I've identified a problem with the HTC 8x phone. I'm submitting an update tonight, so keep a look out for an update next week.
  • My location services were down. Works fine now after starting.
  • Why does everything only update every half hour. I know its an OS thing but for some cases it really needs to be sooner, should have options for update time on apps.
  • Because as you said, it's an OS thing. Number one complain on smart phones is battery life. So Microsoft made the decision to limit all apps to only run every 30 mins.
  • I would like the weather maps here in the Netherlands :(
  • If you can show me a free to use weather service for the Netherlands that supports generating maps for any extent, I would love to add it.
  • Also, you can only use one lock screen app at a time so this one should be able to display the temperature and and my battery life percentage too
  • Very Neat app. Might just be the answer to all my navigation needs. No need to unnlock the screen open the app, wait for recalibrations of the gps etc. Hopefully the developer will consider more maps outside the American continent. These are one of the great reasons for me to switch to a windows 8 Phone!
  • Does the map update, even if your position hasn't changed? Because that could use a lot of data.
  • Depends on the map. Some map changes over time (traffic/weather)
  • I prefer Amazing Weather HD w/Bing Daily Image for my lock screen but this would be pretty useful if on a trip.
  • Any 7.8 plans?
  • Sorry. The app relies on features that are only available in 8.
  • pretty cool app!
  • Well, Bing maps doesn't seem to work after purchase which is a shame.
  • I've identified a problem with the HTC 8x phone. I'm submitting an update tonight, so keep a look out for an update next week.