A Quick Guide to Android Daydreams

Android 4.2+ has daydreams, usually about what life would be like without its useless stock Email client, or its drab News and Weather app, or Google Earth (but never its beloved Movie Studio).

It also has Daydreams, or interactive screen-savers, with actionable content, which are another example of Jelly Bean’s redundancies, alongside wireless charging (cool and only minimally useful) and NFC for Google Wallet and niche power-user apps like NFC Task Launcher. The small sliver of living persons using 4.2+ have access to more uselessly beautiful junk than even an “iPhone only” Instagrammer could shake a real vintage camera at. Here’s what one looks like (the red tint on the screen is due to the Twilight app I’m using):

Google Currents Daydream

Google Currents Daydream

I haven’t used a screensaver for anything since the heyday of Windows 95 and its amazing brick-mazes. So why would I use a Daydream?

To charge wirelessly to be MAXXlike, 

To be MAXXlike, perchance to Daydream..

Well, that’s not a great explanation – Daydreams if anything contribute to lack of battery life (and focus), but they’re pretty and useful for making non-Android users jealous, which after all is the main point of using Android. Basically, if you’re walking past your charging phone, you can maybe use a Daydream to learn a bit about what Google Currents thinks is interesting, or watch Beautiful Widgets’ cheeky weather animations, which now seem set to arrive in iOS 7:

BW Pro

Beautiful Widgets Pro Daydream

Like all the good fancy stuff in Jelly Bean, Daydreams are little toggles, wrapped in Roboto, inside a submenu. You’ll have to go to Setting -> Display -> Daydreams to view your options. Default options include Currents, Clock, and Photo Table. 3rd-party options include Beautiful Widgets Pro, Flipboard, and StumbleUpon. Some Daydreams have settings; I’ve sometimes changed Beautiful Widgets’ weather read-out’s text color to match the hex values on my wallpaper.

Android Daydream Settings

Daydreams Settings

The Currents daydream is perhaps the most esoterically styled sophisticated, which isn’t a surprise given that it’s a Google app. News stories cascade over the screen and can be tapped to open them up in the Currents app.

Like virtually any non-Search/Maps/G+ initiative, I don’t know how long Google will keep around this geeky quirk hidden away in Jelly Bean. Its demise wouldn’t upset Twitter-hounds and news-junkies the way that the Google Reader shutdown did/will, unless their replacement workflow had become scanning the Currents Daydream for infrequently updated news, floating like islands between 500px entries.

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