Android 10 adds support for installing custom boot animations via APEX modules
The latest version of Google’s Android operating system is Android 10, released just yesterday for Pixel smartphones. With the official release, we can see the new boot animation that shows off Android’s new, dessert-less branding (see the featured image above). The boot animation is one of the most popular things to customize in the XDA community, but doing so requires root access since the boot animation resides in the read-only system, product, or oem partitions. That could change in the future, however. According to a commit we spotted in AOSP, Google has added support for installing custom boot animations through APEX modules.
We’ve talked about APEX before in the context of Project Mainline, one of the most important features of Android 10. APEX is a new package type that is designed to allow for securely updating system libraries and other system components, but it’s apparently going to also be used to deliver customized boot animations. In Android 10, the boot animation binary has been modified to support loading a boot animation from an APEX module called com.android.bootanimation.apex. The commit description states that “this is needed to support download[ing] and install[ing] of customized bootanimations.” Since the boot animation will be contained within an APEX module, it can be installed via ADB or a system installer app with the right permissions like the Google Play Store—no root access needed.
You won’t be able to install any custom boot animation from the Internet, though. Third-party APEX modules will be rejected from installation if the module fails Android Verified Boot verifications. That means that only APEX modules from trusted sources like Google or the OEM of your device can be installed, so you’ll be limited to boot animations that they provide. This is the same restriction that Google imposed on third-party overlays in Android Pie.
We don’t know if Google plans to provide a selection of custom boot animations on Pixel devices. The commit enabling this feature was submitted by a Sony engineer in November of last year, but it was merged internally by Google into AOSP in late May of this year. Google likely added this feature to just allow OEMs to distribute customized boot animations without having any intention of doing so themselves, but it’s possible that the company may add boot animation customization into its upcoming Pixel Themes app. After all, we’ve recently seen Google become more open to customization in Android 10 with the various accent color, icon shape, and font overlays in Developer Options, the hidden clock styles, and finally, the system-wide dark theme.