There’s no denying that the Android operating system provides an amazing amount of flexibility, power, and customization options for smart phone users. But with all that authority comes some responsibility. If you’re not proactive, certain apps and widgets can gobble up system resources. Here are some quick and easy tips—and apps—to help put some pep back into your Android phone.
Kill Apps Running in the Background
Besides taking up memory, many apps continue to operate behind the scenes when not being used, eating up precious CPU cycles. Blow those apps away within the Android Settings menu. The latest version of Android, 2.3 (Gingerbread), allows for easier app killing, though at press time only the Samsung Galaxy S 4G was lucky enough to run it. Alternatively, special task killer apps such as Advanced Task Killer streamline the process.
• Tap Settings > Applications and select Manage Applications
• Hit the tab labelled Running
• Tap the app you’d like to kill and select the Force Stop option
Monitor Suspect Apps
Some apps can be particularly problematic. Either they ping the network often, single-handedly dragging down handset performance, or perhaps they just won’t quit, starting up when your phone boots and coming back to life like the undead after being killed by task manager software. Even worse, they may be guilty of both sins; social media apps such as Tweetdeck have been known to afflict older Android devices.
To find out which apps are running, as before navigate to Settings > Applications > Running services. If possible, try uninstalling the suspicious software and observe whether performance improves. A more advanced solution is to install third-party apps to monitor software behavior. For instance, the Watchdog app from Zomut will alert users to oddly behaving software so they can be targeted for elimination.
Remove Unused Apps
The simplest way to provide a speed boost to your Android phone is to get rid of unnecessary apps. Most applications take up some amount of internal memory, and, as a general rule, the less memory a phone has, the slower it gets. If you haven’t used an app in the last few months—especially a free one—chances are you can do without it.
Removing apps is easily accomplished from the Android Marketplace app:
• Tap MyApps, then the app in question
• Select Uninstall
You can also remove apps via Android Settings > Applications > Manage Applications:
• Under the default downloaded tab (far left), select your app
• Tap Uninstall
Manage Widgets and Animations
Sure, those slick weather widgets and fancy live wallpapers are nice to look at. Who doesn’t like thunderstorms complete with forked lightning rolling across the screen? The problem is that these effects tend to use lots of processing power, which can bog down performance and shorten battery life.
Decide whether all that flash is really necessary, and if isn’t, put it on the shelf. From the home screen, hit Menu > Wallpaper and make a more subdued wallpaper selection. Android menu animations can also be toggled on and off within Settings > Display > Animations. You may want to put taxing social media and weather widgets, such as ones found in Motoblur and HTC Sense UIs, on ice as well. Removing a widget from the home screen is easy:
• Place finger on widget and hold
• When then widget becomes highlighted, drag the widget to the Trash icon at the bottom of the screen
Move Apps to Your Memory Card
With the advent of Android version 2.2 (Froyo), users have the option to move much of an application’s software bulk out of internal memory onto a microSD card. If an app is an absolute must-have, such as Google Books, push it to SD storage via Application > Manage Applications within the Android Settings menu.
• Tap the app you want
• Under Data there should be the option to transfer much of the app’s data to your phone’s microSD card
Boost Your Browser
One of the key differences between Android and iOS is Flash for web browsing. Make no mistake, Android having Flash is great, but it can really slow down load times. We’ve found that disabling Flash shaved a good 10 seconds off loading the full version of the Laptopmag.com homepage. Here’s how you do it:
• Open your Android browser and hit Menu
• Select More > Settings
• Within Settings, scroll down until you see Enable Plug-In
• Tap this, then choose On Demand.