Android TikTok app gets faster launch and smoother UI

In a case study, the Android Developer Relations team today detailed recent improvements and optimizations to TikTok for Android.

With over a billion users worldwide, TikTok operates on “various network conditions and device specifications”. Its developers use “data monitoring, peer app comparison, and user surveys to track overall app performance.”

TikTok’s engineering team cites “janky images, video playback lag, and network issues” as responsible for the app’s slowness, and decided to fix each of them. Mainly, the application startup time has been reduced by 45% thanks to:

  • Refactor “the app startup framework to achieve lazy loading and meticulous component scheduling.”
  • Using a “background thread to load View components asynchronously”.
  • Leverage “Simpleperf” to analyze code execution time and Android Studio‘s profiler to monitor resource usage such as memory, CPU, and network to optimize I/O, threads, and resource locks”.

To provide a smoother user interface, TikTok simplified the app so that it “only displays what is needed on the screen”. He then “reduces[d] the number of task executions in each frame so that the application can have a stable frame rate. This resulted in smoothness, defined as the “likelihood that the frame rate is below the target value”, optimized by 49%.

Meanwhile, playback improvements have allowed the first frame of a clip to appear 41% faster, with video lag reduced by 27%. This involved work on codecs, optimizing network connections, preloading, pre-rendering, and using “on-device video super-resolution to generate high-resolution images based on low-resolution video content. “.

In total, “active days per user in 30 days increased by 1%, as did average session length,” which is remarkable given TikTok’s scale.

Looking ahead, Google said the TIkTok team “also focused on large-screen devices, including foldable devices.” However, anecdotally, we find that some of the video is often cut off on large or short screens since the app optimizes the phone rather than the content. In the meantime, today’s case study didn’t really touch on the content creation (video recording) aspects of the app.

By constantly optimizing app performance and adapting to the latest Android 13 platform, TikTok has created a more seamless app experience, encouraging more users to discover, create and share the content they love.

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