How You Can Use Dynamic Animations in Your App

Animations make any application more interesting for the user and give uniqueness to even a very ordinary mobile service. And the best effect can be achieved with the help of physics-based animations which provide us with a striking impression of the real-world interaction.

But how to create realism in animations? Read our article to find out the answer and understand the ways of using dynamic animation systems in your app. Also, you'll see a couple of amusing examples of animation of the sort.

What is dynamic animation?

Today it is difficult to find apps without animation effects, at least, minimal ones. But sometimes such effects don't look convincing and plausible. However, a physics-based animation is quite another thing. That's why it has become so popular trend in mobile technologies.

The dynamic animation reacts to user actions and does so very realistically. It seems that the animated element is a part of the real world and not an object made by designers and developers.

Qualitatively created physics-based animation directly affects the app's success and can attract a great many new users. All you have to do is to find the right approach to the matter.

Principles to create new animations

Adding physics-based animations to the mobile application is a truly delicate job. One incorrectly made element can spoil the impression and lead to undesired results. To avoid such an outcome, certain principles must be followed.

Dynamic animation systems should:

  1. Meet the standard OS requirements. Material Design from Google and Human Interfaces Guidelines from Apple would come in handy for this purpose.
  2. Be understandable and intuitive. Its goal is to help the user, and not distract him from the main content of the mobile application.
  3. Be meaningful and purposeful. All the actions performed with the help of animated effects should be considered beforehand.

How Android & iOS Physics-based Animations differ from other ones

As you've already understood, physics-based animations are more realistic than regular ones. They are made in such a way that the elements of the app interface seem to react to the influences of external forces (the same gravity, for example).

Of course, the task to create a new animation of this type is more difficult: you need to understand what forces will affect the element, and how such an impact can influence the animated object. Fortunately, there are special APIs and libraries to help, and you do not have to be versed in physics. Though, we’ll discuss it in the due course time.

What are the distinctive advantages of flexible animations in Android and iOS?

  • effect of naturalness. App elements react exactly as they would do in the real world;
  • speed. Such dynamic animations react very quickly to user actions;

What physical parameters can affect the animation

Google and Apple provide developers with a lot of various approaches to building Android & iOS physics-based animations. Let's take a closer look at the offered possibilities.

Android Physics-based Animation

In the past, developers working with the Android platform had to do with rather deficient animation tools, such as Value Animators, Object Animators. Therefore, they had no other choice but to write a great many lines of code to create animations able to imitate real-world objects.

Happily, Google has been constantly improving its platform, and now developers are actively making use of physics-based animation APIs. Such ready-made native solutions are very helpful if you want to create new animations powered by external forces. The developer only needs to determine the characteristics of these forces, and the software algorithm will take care of the rest.

With Dynamic Animation, you're equipped enough to make physics-based animations responding to user actions in a real-time mode.

Fling animations

In this case, we are talking about dynamic animations controlled by the force of friction. What do we mean?

When you fling an object, you give it a certain impulse, and therefore the element will initially be accelerated. But then the friction force comes into play, and the animation starts losing its speed and finally freezes. To make such an effect when developing animations, the FlingAnimation class had been made.

physics-based animation

Spring animations

Now let's talk about animation which is controlled by the spring force.

Developers define all the properties needed, and the API provides different types of constants for their installation. Using this approach, you can get a very realistic spring animation effect when interface elements bounce off the screen bounds exactly as users expect.

animation dynamic

iOS Physics-based Animation

Apple also offers the tools to make iOS spring animations (and not only spring ones, of course).

Starting with iOS7, developers have the possibility to take advantage of native physics-based animation APIs. We're talking about UIKit Dynamics and Motion Effects.

Using these technologies (they are especially effective in tandem), you'll achieve stunning realism in animation in your apps. A few lines of code are enough to implement very interesting physics effects.

In fact, you just need to add the desired behavior to the animator. For example, if you add the gravity behavior to an element, then this element, being placed at the top of the screen, will fall to its lower border and may even go beyond visibility (if you are interested in such a dynamic animation). If you want the element to bounce when reaching the bottom of the screen, then you should add also the collision force as a behavior. The animator is aimed to control all the added behaviors and their interactions.

Among the important classes to make or modify animation can be mentioned:

  • UICollisionBehavior for collision detection
  • UIGravityBehavior to simulate collisions
  • UIPushBehavior to make an effect of pushes
  • UISnapBehavior to attach Views to specific places on the screen

In addition, with the help of a physics-based animation library from Apple, it is possible to configure and manage the properties of objects:

  • Elasticity to determine the elasticity of the collision and the amount of energy spent in the process.
  • Friction to find out the degree of resistance to sliding on the surface.
  • Density to determine the mass of the object (of course, you need to know its size too). A heavy body is more difficult to accelerate, this should also be taken into account in calculations either.
  • Resistance to figure out resistance to any linear motion.
  • Angular Resistance which determines the resistance to rotation.
  • The allowsRotation factor: if this animation value is false, the object won't rotate, regardless of any relevant impact.

How to use dynamic animations in a mobile app

By and large, dynamic animation systems in applications perform the following tasks:

  • the animation provides feedback in response to user actions in the application: when he turns the phone, tapes on the button, swipes the photo, and performs other similar actions.
  • it helps the user to learn UI by showing him how to use the application.
  • it displays the app status.
  • it serves as an entertainment component, which increases the loyalty of the user.

We’ve told you a lot about the theory of adding physics-based animation, it's time to illustrate our words with bright examples of the sort.

Of course, sometimes the tools of Google and Apple are not enough to implement our ideas regarding the dynamics of interfaces. And in such cases, a developer should write his physics-based animation library which expands the capabilities of applications. Or he can search for an existing open-source solution since there are many of them.

So, let’s see the most impressive examples of animation.

dynamic animation systems

realism in animation

Our developers have created a very interesting physics-based animation library that uses the gravity behavior. UI elements of the screen fall down under the influence of this force, which looks very realistic and impressive.  

spring animation

This Android physics-based animation is similar to the previous one, but now we use the shaking effect.

ios spring animation

The example shows how you can modify the spring animation we've described above. Moreover, it gives an idea of how to use flexible animations in Android to improve interactions with a user.

examples of animation

The guys from Facebook also did their best and developed a library to create excellent fading and iOS spring animations. It belongs to those well-tested physics-based animation APIs that will be very useful if you need to get dynamic application elements.

create new animation

And here's a wonderful idea how to make use of the Android physics-based animation to develop fascinating splash screens with this ready-made solution.


Let's briefly summarize all of the above:

  1. Take care of the issue in advance. Imagine: each application screen has been designed, but you're still dissatisfied, you want more. And then you come up with the idea to revive your app with dynamic animation systems. Of course, professionals are able to implement your idea anyway, but the result would be better if everything is thought out in advance.
  2. The animation should have a meaning in itself. Adding physics-based animation, you have to remember that it needs to be implemented in the app for some specific purpose.
  3. Do not forget about the general application style. All created physics-based animations have to correspond to the brand and fit into the design of your application.
  4. Animation is not the most important thing in the application. If you prioritize the animation, you won't please your user, you'll just make him watch a cartoon. And it's not your goal, right? In most cases, good flexible animations in Android and iOS are those that the user does not notice. Your task is not to entertain a user, but to help him get what he wants without unnecessary fuss.

If you need to build or modify the animation, we offer our professional assistance. In our development practice, we often take advantage of dynamic animations and are ready to implement the most daring of your ideas.

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