- Allows users to easily create new call screens
- Can use your own photos for call screens
- No gallery view of all included images means a lot of tapping
- Included images aren't all great
- Depending on your skills, you can create screens yourself
The Price US$0.99
One of the most common ways that people customize their iPhones and iPod touches is to change the wallpaper image that sits behind apps on the home and lock screens. There are a number of apps that offer clip art, patterns, and other images as wallpaper and that let you use them to create unique combinations. Less common, though, is customizing your phone by changing the call screen--the screen that appears when a person calls you. Call Screen Maker, as its name suggests, lets you do that. Whether it's an app worth buying, though, will depend on your computer and creative skills.
Creating Call Screens
As with the apps that allow you to create your own custom wallpapers, Call Screen Maker comes with a large number of images of different sizes and styles. They include wallpaper-sized images, ones that can be put underneath the name and call buttons on the call screen, clip art, and images of people where the faces have been removed so you can put the face of the person calling into it.
The app also allows you to choose images saved in your device's Photos app or to take new photos with the built-in camera. You can also combine images from all the different collections into a customized design.
To browse the pre-installed images, you first select what element of the call screen (background, layer underneath the buttons, etc.) you want to customize. With that choice made, buttons appear that allow you to scroll through the options and see them in a preview of how the finished screen will look. Getting that live preview is appealing, but it hides a user interface problem: Since there's no gallery or thumbnail view of the images available in the app, you're forced to tap the button each time you want to see an image, rather than previewing multiple images at once. This causes you to tap the next or previous buttons a lot (much more than seems reasonable) or settle on an image at some point with the knowledge that you haven't seen all the images.
If creating a gallery of thumbnails isn't workable, perhaps adding some kind of onscreen indication of where you are in the selection--a progress bar or numbers (2 of 100, for instance)--would help the user know whether they're seen nearly, or hardly, all of the images the app has to offer. This would be especially helpful since the developer says they add new images all the time.
Assigning Call Screens
Once you've created the call screen you want to use, tapping the app's Save button saves the image to your device's built-in Photos app. At that point, the app pops up instructions on how to assign the call screen you've just created to the contact you want to use it with. Not all customization apps do this--and they should. It's a very useful feature.
There are two ways to assign call screens to contacts. First, you can go to the Photos app, tap on the call screen you've just made, tap the action button and assign to contact, and then select the person you want to assign the image to. Alternately, you can find the contact you want to assign the screen to, tap Edit, tap Add Photo, tap Choose Photo, and then choose the call screen you just made.
Notice, though, that both of these processes don't require the app itself. Instead, they use features already built into the iOS. Which points a common problem with these kinds of apps: they're not 100% required for making these customizations. If you have the right skills, and the creativity, you can make your own call screens, or wallpapers, and assign them to the parts of your phone that you want to customize. If you don't have these skills, or don't want to spend the time, then apps like this--especially when they're priced at just $0.99 like Call Screen Maker--make sense.
The Bottom Line
Whether an app like Call Screen Maker is a good purchase for you depends, as I already noted, on whether you have the creativity and skills to do this work yourself. The other thing that determines whether this is a good buy is how you feel about the images that come pre-installed with the app. From my perspective, the images are a bit generic, but not everyone will agree with that.
While it may have some user interface difficulties, if you like the look of the images at the App Store, and want an easy way to customize your phone, Call Screen Maker is a solid choice.
What You'll Need
An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (though the last two might be less useful, since they don't have phone features built in) running iOS 4.0 or higher.