App of the Week: Pimp Your Screen Generates Custom iPhone Backgrounds

App: Pimp Your Screen Platform: iPhone Website: Cost: $0.99

There was a particular Seinfeld episode where George filled his wallet so full of stuff -- sandwich shop punch cards, tear-off ads for guitar lessons, etc. -- that he sat awkwardly. Eventually, it became so full it burst, sending all his notes flying. In the smartphone era, George wouldn't have that problem. These devices store everything from notes and maps to e-mail and photos. Remember when friends used to show you photos of their kids, pets and vacations in that endless plastic accordion that unfolded from their wallets? Now, they hand you the phone and direct you to swipe. Before long, your phone will supplant your credit and debit cards and the transformation will be complete.

But one thing that wallets never needed to be was attractive. Sure, people would buy attractive ones and even designer versions, but it was still a tiny accessory tucked in a pocket or purse that really only you saw. But your phone will often be passed around and if it is going to be seen, why shouldn't it look good? Obviously, there are tons of carrying cases you can use to dress up the outside, but what about what's on the screen? That's where Pimp Your Screen comes in.

The Good First, let's get it right out there: This is the cotton candy of apps. It is nothing more than a meal of empty calories in a digital wrapper. But even cotton candy has its place and Pimp Your Screen really serves its purpose well.

And that purpose is to provide a seemingly endless number of background image and graphic options to prettify your iPhone. From shelves that cradle the various apps on the screen to backgrounds of virtually every variety, if you can't find something to use as the background for your phone on here, it probably doesn't exist.

What makes the app work so well is its simple interface. Choose what you want, scroll through a huge batch of options and save it. There are even options for creating your own by importing photos and adding custom icon skin options. Needless to say, the possible combinations are endless.

The Bad The only negative here is not the fault of Pimp Your Screen, but rather a shortcoming of the phone. Once a skin or background is selected and saved, a set of directions appears on the screen explaining how to actually get the background in place. The iPhone doesn't allow apps to change phone settings, so all Pimp Your Screen can do is save the image to your photos folder and let you do the rest.

It creates an additional step that, while fairly simple, is still annoying. I'm not even sure if this is something Apple can or will ever do, but it would be nice for apps like this one and others like Badge.

The Verdict For 99 cents, you'd be hard pressed to find a better solution for helping you create a great-looking theme for your iPhone screen. It won't improve your productivity -- probably decrease it a little -- help you stay organized or give you up-to-the-minute information, but everyone needs a little cotton candy now and then.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke