Often, an app may take a few seconds to start-up, especially the first time. A plain white screen is shown by default, luckily this can be customised relatively easily! The solution is to add a splash screen to your app, whilst being careful to avoid increasing the app’s load time.

Many naïve splash screens actually make the app take longer to load by introducing an artificial delay. The approach in this tutorial doesn’t increase load time, and only displays as long as the app loads. An example implementation is available.

First, add a design for the splash screen and name it splash_screen_background.xml inside /drawable/. For this example, a new drawable ic_time was created and layered on top of the default colorPrimary.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<layer-list xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" android:opacity="opaque">
    <item android:drawable="@color/colorPrimary" />
                android:src="@drawable/ic_time" />

Unfortunately, this can’t be a normal XML layout, and must instead be an XML drawable. Layer lists are used for the most common splash screens; coloured background with an icon in the middle. This may take some experimentation, as scaling the image correctly can be tricky.

Next, add a new style SplashScreen to your styles.xml, this is the style for the splash screen and uses your newly created background:

<style name="SplashScreen" parent="Theme.AppCompat.NoActionBar">
    <item name="android:windowBackground">@drawable/splash_screen_background</item>

Now set your starting activity (e.g. MainActivity) to use your SplashScreen style inside AndroidManifest.xml:


Finally, call setTheme(R.style.AppTheme) at the start of your MainActivity‘s onCreate, e.g.:

override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {

Your application will now use the activity’s default splash screen theme until onCreate is called, when it will load the normal theme!

For testing, it’s often handy to add a sleep(5000) before setting the theme on onCreate, otherwise the app loads too quickly to get a long look at the splash screen. Drawables inside your splash screen background should also be non-vector images, as parsing the vectors often causes unexpected effects.

Full implementation source code: https://github.com/JakeSteam/SplashScreenDemo