Since the beginnings of time, I have been using a simple tweak across all my Android devices to improve their responsiveness. Surprisingly, I don’t really see it being talked about. I have never met even an enthusiast that also uses it. I’m talking about lowering the Android Animation Scale to speed up transitions across the OS and every app.
Understanding Android Animation Scale
Animation scales determine the duration of UI transitions, like switching between apps or interacting with elements. These animations are an essential part of Material Design, Android’s design system. They are used to communicate the paper like layer metaphor to the user, guiding them while making transitions smoother and less jarring. They also mask delays and loading times, however I found that for many years most devices are faster than the default animation speed conveys. On slower devices, default animations might feel too lengthy, emphasizing lag. Adjusting the scales can thus make both slow and fast devices feel more immediate. Luckily it’s easy to adjust the global animation scale – although it will only affect apps that actually use Androids default UI toolkit – which is most of them.
Modifying Animation Scales
- Activate Developer Options:
- Navigate to Settings > About phone.
- Tap Build number seven times to enable developer mode.
- Change Animation Scales:
- In Settings, go to System > Developer options.
- Under the Drawing or Animation section, locate:
- Window animation scale
- Transition animation scale
- Animator duration scale
- Typically set at 1x, changing these to 0.5x will make animations twice as fast, offering a swifter feel. However, setting them to 0 will disable them entirely.
Key Points to Remember
- Perceived vs. Real Speed: Tweaking animation scales boosts perceived speed, not actual device performance. Sometimes you will still need to wait after the animation, but other times you may actually be able to resume slightly faster, if the animation at 1x was masking a surface that was otherwise ready for interaction
- Disabling Animations: Setting scales to 0 removes animations, but this can harm the user experience. Material design animations convey information; eliminating them might make interactions less intuitive. I found 0.5 to be the sweet spot.
- App Behavior: Some apps with custom animations might not align well with altered scales. If you find that bothering, consider setting only the animator duration scale back to 1.
- You may not be able to go back: Unmodified devices will feel noticably slower and more sluggish.
In essence, adjusting animation scales can improve the user experience on Android devices. Why this is so obscure is beyond me – for me it’s a must-change setting on any Android device.