Apple removed Panoramic Wallpapers from iOS 7: Here’s probably Why

BY Jason

Published 19 Sep 2013


Along with a radical design change, Apple also made major changes to iOS 7 wallpapers — it added Panoramic and Dynamic wallpapers. While the subtly animated Dynamic wallpapers seem to have made the cut to the final iOS 7 release, Panoramic wallpapers was given the axe in iOS 7 beta 5.

In case you weren’t aware, early-iOS 7 betas let you set panoramic images as home screen and lock screen wallpapers. Since panoramic images have a high-resolution count, iOS would display only a section of the image at one time, but you could pan around the image by moving your device. The feature was pretty neat, which is why we were surprised to know that it has been scrapped.

Here’s why we think the feature was scrapped:

  • Keeping such a high-resolution image in memory while your device is awake is very expensive, especially when it’s done for a long time on devices with 512MB RAM and older GPUs.
  • Apple seemed to have tried a few optimisations that kept only the visible portion of the image in memory, but this caused visual defects when you tried to quickly move your device. Black boxes started showing up because iOS had to bring a new area of the image in memory, which takes time.
  • To pan around the wallpaper, iOS used data from the three motion sensors — accelerometer, compass and gyroscope. Continually accessing data from these devices is expensive, since it burdens the CPU and consumes battery.

We think the first two reasons are the most likely ones as Apple has still kept the 3D parallax effect in wallpapers, which uses gyroscopic data but, unlike panoramic wallpapers, doesn’t have to deal with large images.

Now it’s possible that all the issues mentioned above are no longer applicable to the iPhone 5s since the A7 chip has a dedicated low-power motion M7 coprocessor and a better GPU with the ability to load bigger textures much faster. So while we don’t know for sure, we think there’s still a small possibility that iPhone 5s still has Panoramic wallpapers.

The thing is people who used this feature seemed to really like it, so Apple should have given us the choice to set Panoramic wallpapers. If we found that it didn’t perform well on our device, we could take the decision to disable it rather than Apple taking that decision for us.

It’s not known if Apple has completely removed the feature (including the code) or simply disabled it. If it is simply disabled, it would be quite easy to enable it again once an iOS 7 jailbreak is out.

Tell us what you think about the omission of panoramic wallpapers from iOS 7 in the comments below. Do you think Apple should have included it, especially since Android phones have had them since years?