The mobile operating system Android for phones and tablets offers a wide variety of apps and can be quite useful in your professional and personal life. But after you've added a bunch of apps and used it for a while, Android can also get bogged down or unstable, run slowly and/or eat battery juice too quickly.
Like their larger computing counterparts, Android-based devices need to be maintained. Problems can start if the internal storage becomes full (or close to it) or if you're running too many apps or background processes at once (which also decreases battery life).
What follows is a description of 10 apps that can help increase the performance of your Android device. Note: A few of these apps require you to root your device -- in other words, you need to unlock the device, giving apps the ability to use full root permissions. (Keep in mind that there's the possibility that you could void your warranty.)
Price: Free (basic version), $1.29 (Pro version)
1Tap Cleaner comes with a Cache Cleaner, History Cleaner and a Default Cleaner.
The Cache Cleaner frees up storage space by removing temporary files left by apps. You can manually clear the cache for select apps or clear all apps at once. It lists apps sorted by their cache size so you can quickly see those taking up the most space. It also displays the total and available internal storage space so you can see how much space you need to free up.
1Tap Cleaner also supports automatic scheduled cache cleaning. The free version lets you choose an interval of every three days or every week. The Pro version ($1.29) offers more interval settings, from every hour to every two weeks. It also adds the ability to auto-clear app histories as well.
You can use the History Cleaner to clear the search history from your Web browser and other apps. This is more of a privacy issue, and is useful if you don't want others to be able to see where you're surfing or what you're looking up.
The Default Cleaner lists default settings that you've defined, such as using a third-party Web browser or launcher over the native ones included with Android. The Default Cleaner is useful if you'd like to revert back to the default.
Android Assistant offers a variety of utilities and tools to help monitor, clean and manage your Android device. It has three screens. The first is called the Monitor and shows you your CPU, memory and battery status. It also features a Quick Boost button that will automatically kill pre-selected apps/processes to free up system resources.
The second page is the Process Manager; it shows active apps/processes and lets you manually kill apps.
The remaining utilities are on the Tools page. The Cache Cleaner displays the size of the temporary files used by each app and lets you clear them to free up storage space. Batch Uninstall lists your apps and lets you select which ones to remove. It automatically starts the uninstall process for each app in succession, but you have to confirm each. (For a more efficient process, consider an app like Gemini App Manager or Silent App Uninstaller that takes advantage of root permissions, so you don't have to confirm each uninstall.)
The Startup Manager lets you stop select user and system apps from automatically loading when you turn on your Android device. The App 2 SD feature (which is not the same as the separate app included in this roundup) lists apps installed on the phone and to the SD card, and suggests which ones you can move from the phone to the SD card to help free up internal storage space.
I found Android Assistant to be straightforward and easy to use. Though it offers an abundance of tools, some (such as Battery Saving, Cache Cleaner or App2SD) don't do as much as some other third-party apps you could use separately. I found the most useful tool to be the Startup Manager, since you can prevent unwanted apps from starting rather than killing them later.
Price: Free (basic version), $1.49 (Pro version)
App 2 SD analyzes your installed apps and conveniently lists those that can be moved to your SD card, those already on the SD card and those that can't be moved from internal storage. Then it helps you move all appropriate apps to the SD card (either individually or as a group) to free up internal storage space. It can also monitor new apps you install in the future and notify you when they're movable.
The lists of apps are by default sorted by their file size, so you can quickly see those that are taking up the most space. Total space and free space of your device's internal storage and SD card are conveniently shown on the bottom of the app. App 2 SD also has a simple cache-clearing feature that prompts you to clear app cache if it's larger than 500KB.
Unfortunately, App 2 SD can't automatically move the apps to the SD card. It can only pop up the Application Info screen for each app you want to move; you must then manually hit the "Move to SD card" button, and (if moving multiple apps) then hit the back button to go to the next Application Info screen.
If your device is rooted, consider using Gemini App Manager instead of (or in addition to) App 2 SD, which can automatically list and move apps -- it doesn't, however, automatically notify you after installing a movable app like App 2 SD does.
CPU Tuner is similar to JuiceDefender, but only works on rooted Android devices. It can regulate CPU speed, data connections and syncing to help save battery life and increase performance. You can configure it to control these settings automatically by creating triggers based upon the battery level and the state of the device: screen locked, call in progress, using battery, using AC power or battery too hot. In addition to triggers, it can also automatically adjust the CPU speed based upon the profile you choose: Performance, Power Save, On Demand and Conservative.
For example, you could set CPU Tuner to under-clock the CPU to save power when the battery is low or over-clock to increase performance when battery life isn't an issue. You can also disable or limit data connections and/or background syncing when your battery is running low. Then if you need to go online, you can still manually enable the data connection and sync.
CPU Tuner is a bit more complex than JuiceDefender. Hidden in the main settings, for example, are ways to save multiple configurations and configuration scheduling. In other words, though CPU Tuner offers a very flexible configuration, it may take some time to wrap your head around the concepts of the profiles, triggers and governors.
Gemini App Manager helps you manage running and installed apps. Though it doesn't require a rooted device, it offers enhanced functionality for those that are rooted -- which is why I'm recommending it. It's most useful if you have a rooted device and want to move or uninstall multiple apps at once.
The Phone2SD and SD2Phone features are similar to the App 2 SD feature of the Android Assistant app, but offer batch moving of apps between the internal storage and the SD card for rooted devices. Similarly, Uninstall offers silent batch removal of apps for rooted devices. You can use these features on non-rooted devices, but you'll have to click to confirm each app move or removal.
The app also offers a Kill Process feature similar to the Android Assistant's Process Manager feature of the app. You can selectively kill running apps, let Gemini choose those to kill or kill all. It offers only basic functionality. For a more advanced process manager, consider Memory Booster that can also do scheduled app killing.
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