Three new wallpapers appeared in iOS 14.0, each with dark and light versions, while iOS 14.2 added eight. Every iPhone also has live wallpapers dedicated to it. However, none of Apple’s wallpapers are dynamic. That means they don’t automatically change based on certain circumstances, such as what time it is. MacOSs do, and you can get them to work on your iPhone.
Apple’s latest dynamic wallpaper in macOS Big Sur is arguably the best yet. Taken in the Big Sur region, the wallpaper’s images depict the breathtaking and stunning central California coast, where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. There are eight different shots of the same location, taken at different times and under different weather conditions. The macOS desktop will cycle through those wallpapers based on ay̵
MacOS has also added four more dynamic backgrounds – artistic representations of some of the environments in and around Big Sur. These four different images also appear as some of the new iOS 14.2 wallpapers, but they are only dynamic on macOS computers.
Now, about getting these dynamic wallpapers on your iPhone – it’s all made possible by the Shortcuts app. With the right shortcut set as automation, your iPhone will automatically change your home screen and lock screen background throughout the day (you can even make one or the other of them), mimicking the dynamic wallpaper feature on Mac systems.
How it works and what you need
The shortcut, when running in the background, checks your current date, location, and weather. Then it does a series of calculations to figure out which of the eight Big Sur photos to set as the wallpaper. It will then replace your current wallpaper, both on your home and on the lock screen, with the wallpaper that fits best.
The shortcut requires iOS 14.3 to work, which is currently only available as a beta version, but you can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program if you want to try it out early. If you don’t want to run beta version on your iPhone, which can cause problems, you have to wait for the official release of iOS 14.3.
Apart from that, you also need the shortcut and wallpapers below. If you deleted the Shortcuts app for some reason, you’ll want to get it back for this. Next, make sure “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” is enabled in the “Shortcuts” settings.
Step 1: Download the new Big Sur wallpapers
Use any of the links below in the Safari web browser to get all eight versions of the Big Sur dynamic wallpaper. Safari makes things easier because it has its Downloads Manager, which is useful later on. When the MediaFire folder opens, select all JPG files and click “Download”. On the Bulk download prompt, tap “Yes” to continue. Then click “Download” again at the Safari prompt.
This will download a zip file to the default download folder in Safari. You can check if it has been downloaded by tapping the download icon next to the search field.
If you’d like to use the other dynamic wallpapers in macOS Big Sur, head to the bottom of this article for links and learn more about using them.
Step 2: Move the images to the shortcut folder
The shortcut you will be using later is already configured to use the image files you just downloaded to your iPhone from the “Shortcuts” folder in your iCloud Drive. You can keep the Big Sur wallpapers in any folder in the Files app and then change the image locations in the shortcut’s actions, but it’s easier to just move the wallpapers to the “Shortcuts” folder.
To go directly to the zip file, regardless of where your default download location is in Safari, tap the download icon next to the search field, just like you did above, then tap the name of the zip file. That will open the Files app to the folder that contains the zip file. Now tap on the zip file in the Files app and it will extract a folder with the images.
Open that folder, tap the ellipsis icon (•••) to display the menu, then choose “Select.” Check all eight images, then tap the folder icon in the bottom toolbar. Then choose the “Shortcuts” folder in your iCloud Drive and tap “Move”.
Step 3: Add the Dynamic Wallpaper shortcut
Now it’s time to download the Dynamic Wallpaper shortcut that chooses the wallpapers in the background. You can download the shortcut from the direct link below. This link fixes a minor bug in the original Dynamic Wallpaper version 2 shortcut from Reddit user apoch8000.
After clicking ‘Get Shortcut’, you will be redirected to the Shortcut app. Here you can view all of the shortcut’s actions. Scroll down and then tap the red “Add Untrusted Shortcut” to add it to your library.
Step 4: Run the dynamic wallpaper manually once
Although the dynamic wallpaper will run automatically in the background of your iPhone all day long, you need to run it manually first to give it the permissions necessary to run smoothly.
In the Shortcuts app, tap “My Shortcuts” then tap the new “Dynamic Wallpaper” card. You will be prompted to let “Shortcuts” use your location, and either keep it in a precise location (the default) or tap “Accurate: On” on the map to make this the general area where you are. Then select ‘Allow while using the app’.
Then you will be asked to allow Dynamic Wallpaper to access your location from the Weather app. Tap “OK” to continue. This is so that the shortcut can discover your local weather conditions.
Then you may be asked to allow the shortcut to access your iCloud Drive. If so, tap “OK” at the prompt. If not, tap the ellipsis icon (•••) on the Dynamic Wallpaper card, scroll down until you see an action card that says “Allow Access” for iCloud. Tap that and then tap “OK” at the prompt.
Step 5: Create the automation running in the background
The above shortcut is not enough to switch wallpaper on your iPhone. That’s where automation comes in. In the Shortcuts app, tap “Automation” at the bottom to start. If you don’t have any other automations, tap ‘Create Personal Automation’. If you do, tap the plus (+) icon and then “Create Personal Automation”.
The trigger you choose to run the shortcut is up to you, but you need to choose something that will make it run multiple times a day. You can have the shortcut run whenever you open a specific app (“App”) or when you connect your iPhone to a charger (“Charger”). To change your wallpaper on a regular schedule, use multiple “Time of Day” automations with any time you want.
You could choose any trigger on the page, but I’m using the “App” option in my example. After selecting it, tap ‘Choose’ to choose an app on your iPhone that activates the automation, then tap ‘Done’. Then choose “Is Open” or “Is Closed” to run the Dynamic Wallpapers shortcut every time the chosen app is opened or closed respectively. When you are done, click “Next”.
Now is the time to add actions to your automation. Tap “Add Action” or the search field at the bottom, search for “Run Shortcut” and select it. Back on the Actions page, tap “Shortcut” on the map, find and select the shortcut “Dynamic Wallpaper”.
Finally, click “Next” and uncheck “Ask Before Running”. A popup will appear asking if you are sure you do not want to be prompted when this automation is triggered. Tap “Don’t ask” and then “Done” to finish.
Step 6: Activate the Dynamic Wallpaper shortcut
Now you have to activate the action that the Dynamic Wallpaper shortcut will perform in the background. In my case, all I have to do is open the Grailed app, which is on my home screen. Once it opens, the wallpaper will change to the Big Sur image that matches your location, weather and time.
If you were to open the app twice in a span of 30 minutes, you might not get a new wallpaper because the weather conditions, location or time have not changed enough, but every few hours it should work. But again, you could have chosen a different trigger in the automation for more granular control over when the background changes.
Try out the other dynamic wallpapers from macOS
If you want to try out the other dynamic wallpapers on macOS Big Sur, you need to download them to iCloud Drive like you did in step 1 above.
Then edit the shortcut and replace the names of the eight image files with the names of the new files. The numbers on each file correspond to their placement in the shortcut and correspond to the numbers in the current image names, making it easier to make sure the backgrounds are in the right place for the time of day.
However, with Solar Gradient’s dynamic backgrounds, there are 16 image files, so you have to select half of them to use or add eight more scripts to the shortcut to add them all.
Only change the home screen or lock screen, not both
If you just want your lock screen or home screen wallpaper to change automatically – not both – you can make a little tweak to the shortcut.
For each “Wallpaper” action card in the shortcut, tap “Lock screen, Home screen” and turn off the lock or home screen while keeping the one you want to change checked. Then click on “Done”. Repeat for the remaining “Wallpaper” action cards, and press “Done” to save. That’s it, and you don’t have to run the automation again as it will still link to this shortcut no matter how you edit it.
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