Android has come a long way in the last 5 or 6 years. Each new release of the OS brings both functional and performance improvements. Google’s “Project Butter” brought major improvements to the responsiveness of the OS when Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) was released. But Android’s UI is still a compromise between speed and style. Google seems to take great pride in the transition animations that occur when you switch between apps, open and close windows, or scroll between pages. But while these animations deliver sweet eye-candy, they also add some lag to these transitions.
For some, the style of the interface is more important than outright speed. And really, we’re talking fractions of a second here. For most users, Google’s probably chosen the right compromise between style and speed. But if even the hint of hesitation, lag, or wasted nanoseconds annoys you, and has you thinking of upgrading to the latest multi-GHz, octo-core-processor-equipped phone, you might want to try this first.
All Android phones have an selection in Settings called “Developer options.” Since Android 4.2, however, this feature is hidden, and how you gain access to it varies by manufacturer, and sometimes by device. If you have a recent Samsung device, do this:
If that doesn’t work, or you’re having trouble finding the “About device” page on your phone, or you don’t have a Samsung device, you can probably find step by step instructions by searching Google for “enable developer options” followed by the make and model of your phone. For example: “enable developer options Motorola Moto G.”
Once you’re able to access Developer options, scroll down until you find these three options:
- Window animation scale
- Transition animation scale
- Animator animation scale
Tap each of these rows in turn to view, and change, their settings. By default, each should be at 1 x. Changing each value to 0.5 x will approximately halve the time it takes for each animation to complete. The difference is quite noticeable in many animations. If you think “animation, smamination,” and want the quickest response your phone is capable of, choose “Animation is off.” Now just back out of settings, and experience a whole new world! Well, not really, but your phone should feel more responsive.
If you’re interested in seeing what these animations really do, try setting them to 2x. It will really slow your phone down, but you’ll clearly see the animation effects Google spent so much time coding. You’ll want to change the settings back pretty quickly, though.
While you’re in the Developer options screen, there’s one more setting you probably ought to change. Check the box next to “USB debugging.” You may never need it, but if your phone gets broken someday, USB debugging may be a lifesaver. And it’s typically too late to try to turn it on after your phone no longer works.
Be careful with the other settings here. Most are harmless, but some can cause you much aggravation.
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