If you have a Google Nexus or Pixel, case options for your phone may seem a little harder to come by than say, an iPhone. However, if you like themes and customization, you could be in for a treat. Personalized phone cases are available for a lot of phones, but Google does take it a step further by offering a programmable NFC shortcut button in the case as well as coordinating wallpaper options. You can have your choice of the image; whether it’s artwork, photos, or a Google map of your location.
Most cases cost around $40 but can run upwards of $50. These cases aren’t exactly designed with protection as the number one priority; although like any case, they do offer that extra layer. The focus is mainly decorative, however. You can also apply filters and manage your wallpaper through an associated app.
Download: My Live Case
1. Into Artwork? Choose from a Collection of Popular Artists
Live Cases, and their companion live wallpaper are available in a variety of artwork. Here are some examples:
Live Case Limited Edition: Artist Jeremy Scott $40
Download: Live Case Editions
Which accessory do people tend to carry around the most? For many, it’s their Android phones. So it only makes sense to pair fashion with your Android, and who could pull it off better than fashion designer Jeremy Scott? Even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you might recognize his Adidas’ winged shoes.
Artist/Astronaut: Chris Hadfield $40
Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space. Chris has accumulated a collection of images looking down from 300 miles above the Earth for you to choose from. The pictures are striking and unique.
Artist: Justin Maller $40
Justin Maller gained notoriety by conducting a year-long image-per-day venture called Facets, and now he’s also blessed us with images for the Artworks Live Case collection. Justin has been creating digital art for over fifteen years, and you can view his work at his website.
Artist(s): FriendsWithYou $40
FriendsWithYou is a collaborative effort between artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III who want to convey a positive message based on friends, magic, luck, spiritual awareness, and joyous interaction. You can view their portfolio, blog, and exhibitions and even shop at the website.
Artist: Gray Malin $40
In addition to being a New York Times best-selling author, Gray Malin’s creativity also extends to fine-art photography and Google Live Cases. He is inspired by and has collections from locations all over the world. You can check out his photography or buy products like luggage tags at his website.
Artist(s): Opening Ceremony $40
The founders of Opening Ceremony, Carol Lim, and Humberto Leon, have always been into fashion, but they left the corporate world to open a single store—now gone global—that expresses their love for fashion, art, and travel. See some of their goods on their website.
2. Map Your Best-Loved Spot
There’s something distinguished about maps; in fact, it’s one of the few decorative themes I can get my husband to agree to without offending his sense of manliness. To design your Google phone case with a map, all you have to do is select your location on a map, and choose your map view. You can pick from water, terrain, and textured styles and colors. Finish it out in matte or gloss. You can also set your wallpaper to display your current location throughout your day.
The companion wallpaper can show you different portions of the map. You can customize the case’s button to launch your favorite app or the camera. When you first enter the website, you will be asked to select the type of phone you have. The next step is choosing the place you love, which is hopefully right where you are.
You can click, pan, and drag to view and position to a different place on the map. You then choose your style, click Next, and then it lets you preview your case using 3D rotation. At that point, you can opt to save your creation for later, or buy it for $40. Similarly, you could also design and purchase a Google Earth Live Case for $49.99.
3. Favorite Photo
Are there certain photos that instantly brighten your day? Now you can always have them right at hand. All you need to do is pick your photo and pick your style and colors. It’s pretty simple.
While you might have to narrow down exactly which photo is your favorite for the case, you can choose tons of photos for your wallpaper. The wallpaper app will play them in a slideshow. You determine how frequently you want them to change. To start out, you’ll need to specify which type of Pixel or Nexus you own.
Then you get to pick out that special photo that defines you takes you to your happy place, reminds you of your loved ones, or whatever you want to look at on a daily basis. After all, this is all about looks. Yes, there’s a button on the back, but in all honesty, it’s kind of difficult to press—at least quickly. So go ahead and make your case unique, because that is truly Google Live Case’s best feature.
You’ll get to accent that image with your choice of dozens of filters and color options. You can brighten up your image, give it vintage or hipster flair, or make use of contrast. Use the 3D rotation tools to envision how your entire phone will look—wallpaper and all. You will still need the My Live Case companion app offered above to customize the NFC button and your wallpaper settings further.
When your case arrives to make sure that you align your phone’s buttons with the built-in holes on the case before you slide it on. Once you snap on the case, your home screen transforms into that slideshow of photos that you can pick for your wallpaper. You can add as many as you want. You can add more using the shortcut button on the back to launch your camera app—just make sure to press hard.
4. About that Companion Wallpaper
So now you know how to design your Google phone case, but that’s only taking advantage of part of the features that come with it. As soon as you snap on that case, you’ll be directed to install the Live Case app if you haven’t already. If you have read any of the other sections, you have heard at least a little about the wallpaper that is used to complement your case. But how do you manage it?
You can do quite a lot to interact with and customize what you see on your display, but you will have to download the My Live Case app above to do so. The features that come with the wallpaper depend on which Google Live Case you decide to go with. For instance, if you love the Google Earth Live Case so much that you are willing to spend $50 on it, the case will connect with the app to supply an image from a different Google Earth location every day. Whereas if you opted instead to purchase the Google Live Photo Case, your My Live Case app can be used for such functions as managing your photo rotation.
If you have photos that look better blurry for some reason, you can set the blur intensity using this app. Alternatively, if you went with the Places Live Case, that button on the back of your case will direct you to maps of nearby places rather than automatically launch the camera like it would by default with the Photos Live Case. Regardless, the NFC button is programmable and can be changed, but you’ll need the app to do it with. To change the button’s functionality, open the device’s Live Case app and tap the Shortcut button.
You can also manage the live wallpaper by choosing a different map style, changing out artwork, colors, etc. Anytime you need to change or add wallpaper, go to Set Wallpaper, preview your selection, and confirm by pressing Set Wallpaper one more time. A case we haven’t yet mentioned where the wallpaper outdoes the case is the Google Trends Live Case. It displays the top trending Google searches, and you can use the shortcut button to learn more about each topic.
The cases are pretty slim, but some don’t seem to fit just perfectly. And they are a snap on cover—not as tough as they come. Most likely, though, the polycarbonate material that the cases are made of will be adequate unless you tend to be hard on your phone. To utilize the case and the app, you are required to run Android 5.0 or higher.
If you have had a chance to use it, how useful did you find the shortcut button to be? Aside from the customization aspect, this is one of the unique features of the cases that should set it apart. Unfortunately, it seems that Google could have made it just a little easier to use.
Do you think your Google Live Case was worth it? Are there better cases out there for Nexus and Pixel phones? Let us know.