Animations in Cross-Platform Mobile Applications: An Evaluation of Tools, Metrics and Performance

Sensors (Basel). 2019 May 5;19(9):2081. doi: 10.3390/s19092081.


Along with the proliferation of high-end and performant mobile devices, we find that the inclusion of visually animated user interfaces are commonplace, but that research on their performance is scarce. Thus, for this study, eight mobile apps have been developed for scrutiny and assessment to report on the device hardware impact and penalties caused by transitions and animations, with an emphasis on apps generated using cross-platform development frameworks. The tasks we employ for animation performance measuring, are those of (i) a complex animation consisting of multiple elements, (ii) the opening sequence of a side menu navigation pattern, and (iii) a transition animation during in-app page navigation. We employ multiple performance profiling tools, and scrutinize metrics including frames per second (FPS), CPU usage, device memory usage and GPU memory usage, all to uncover the impact caused by executing transitions and animations. We uncover important differences in device hardware utilization during animations across the different cross-platform technologies employed. Additionally, Android and iOS are found to differ greatly in terms of memory consumption, CPU usage and rendered FPS, a discrepancy that is true for both the native and cross-platform apps. The findings we report are indeed factors contributing to the complexity of app development.

Keywords: app animations; app development; cross-platform mobile development; user interfaces.