Instead doing small things here and there, we wanted to build the personalization story around a single strong feature. The most used way to customize a device yourself, is to change the wallpaper. But we didn't want to stop there - we wanted the wallpaper to signify how the device currently works.
To do that, it should affect also to how individual applications look. This naturally allows the image to carry more meaning to its owner than meets the eye of an outsider. The feature was named as Ambience, which means atmosphere, surrounding, mood or environment of a given place.
Here's some examples. These are screenshots of my lock screen, home screen and calculator app (click to enlarge them). In the first set, I have created an Ambience out of Orion nebula photo, and set the device to not emit any sounds when that Ambience is active. You can see the selected image being visible throughout the interface, from lock screen to the calculator.
Alright, unto the next set. This time I have selected an image that shows a circuit board as Ambience motif. More discrete ringtones and notification sounds are defined to fit my working mood and prevent disturbing others. It's easy for me to tell apart green and red interface as they carry added significance for me (both photos are personally relevant for me, and I have defined the behavior for each Ambience). Red is silent, green is discrete. No need to squint at tiny status bar icons.
Moving on to the third set, where I used an abstract macro photo to create my casual Ambience. When activated, ringtones and volumes reflect my preferences for events, going out with friends, or just idling at home. Again, it's trivial for the owner of the device to understand the device behavior through meaningful images and colors instead of minuscule status icons.
To create a new Ambience, all you need is a large enough image. Download one from web, use camera to capture something nice, or create a unique piece with your favorite illustration software. With a little bit of testing, anyone can do it. Results will often surprise you. It's an invitation to explore how different kind of images work and shape the appearance of your device. Use images relevant to you, don't follow but pave your own style. Be playful and try different things. Delete the bad ones and enjoy keepers.
Sailfish OS Ambience journey has just barely started and currently only includes partial sound settings. To get some idea what could be done with it in the future, take a look at what our community has already proposed. In short, it's like a visual umbrella for grouping any kind of behavior you might frequently need to change based on context.
How you make use of it, is up to you. After all, it's your personal device. And this time around, it really means it. The way your phone looks like, is not shared by anyone else.
Each Sailfish OS device is unique in that sense. Reflecting their users.