Google hasn't exactly had a spotless track record when it comes to official Nexus accessories. Accessories have been teased or shown off only to arrive months later or not at all (remember that Nexus 10 dock?).
Recently, though, Google has done a much better job - there are a bevy of case options available for both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013) in a variety of colors, catering to almost all tastes (though at times the quality may not be ideal). According to information made available to us, it appears Google is exploring a tool that would take their accessory strategy to a new level - introducing custom cases and even live wallpapers, created by users in a special interface called - for now - Workshop.
Workshop currently only caters to the Nexus 5. What device the service will launch with, or whether it will expand to other devices, remains to be seen, but for now it looks like Workshop is still in an exploratory phase.
Google has built out most of the interface and user experience, and has established two main "tools" to create custom cases and live wallpapers for the Nexus 5 - MapMe and Moments. Here's a look at the main page, that gives a quick overview of the service, and the page that briefly explains each of the tools.
MapMe, as its name suggests, bases your custom case and wallpaper on a location of your choice. Workshop will apparently offer some canned suggestions like a user's hometown or where they met someone special. From there, users can customize the look of their map to their liking, using different colors or adding text.
The live wallpaper accompanying MapMe can show location-specific tweets or weather, with interactive touches included.
The "Moments" tool invites users to "bring your phone to life with moments you love." Basically, the tool allows users to upload photos, choose one for the case design, and pack others into a live wallpaper.
Once a user uploads a photo (or really any image) from their computer or an existing Google+ album, they can manipulate it on the device, add filters to that image, and add a message in black or white text, positioned at the top, middle, or bottom of the image. The user can then add more photos for the live wallpaper if they so desire.
So far, this is all we know about Google's Workshop. As with any unreleased service or interface, it's important to note that this is a work in progress, and may or may not debut as we've laid out above. What's not clear yet is how a customized live wallpaper would be distributed. Presumably, the user would be able to download the wallpaper at will either from the Play Store or a dedicated interface, but that remains to be seen.
We don't have any information on possible pricing or regional availability, but if Google does unveil a service like this, it will be a huge step up for official Nexus accessories.
Last night, a Googler shared a post on Google+ showing off a "Google Maps custom case" on the Nexus 6. The case looks similar to the "MapMe" option from our original coverage. The post has since been deleted, so we've blurred the Googler's name and profile image, but here's a screenshot of the post:
Of course, phone cases with map imagery don't have to be exclusive to Google (there does seem to be a small mark near the bottom of the case pictured). But it's important to note that the post specifies Google Maps as the source of the imagery, and Google gives pretty clear guidance on purposes for which Maps imagery can and cannot be used. Specifically:
Google Maps may be not used in items for resale (i.e., t-shirts, beach towels, shower curtains, mugs). This restriction does not apply to media such as books, but again, those uses must follow our attribution guidelines.
So if the case does feature imagery specifically from Google Maps, Google is almost certainly the source.
We still can't be 100% sure whether Google is still working on Workshop, or in what capacity, but the appearance of a custom case for the Nexus 6 (with the strong possibility that it's from Google) seems like a promising sign. Presumably, if the service does end up launching publicly, it would be an addition to the new Google Store.