Wallpaper, or custom backgrounds, can be a nice way to personalize your phone and it is surprising it took so long for this ability to reach the iPhone. Perhaps it is even more surprising that custom wallpapers are not available on the iPhone 3G, even with iOS 4.0, but I guess Apple has to draw the line somewhere. In a reply to a customer email, Steve Jobs himself said it was a performance issue.
This is hard to fathom, although I must admit one of the first things I do on a Mac or PC is turn off wallpapers as it’s yet another thing taking up memory. But unlike a PC, the background on an iPhone isn’t displayed while running an app and jailbroken iPhones have had custom wallpapers for a long time.
Nevertheless, for those who can use wallpapers and choose to do so, it can be far more useful than just putting a pretty face on your phone. For your lock screen, I recommend creating a custom image with your name and phone number (non-iPhone) and perhaps mention a reward. This way, anyone who finds your iPhone, even if you have a password lock set, will have a way to reach you and do the right thing. Imagine if Apple’s lost prototype had that. It would have put an end to the argument that the finder tried his best to return it. A good app to create such a photo is Pocket Labeler from More Blu Sky.