Android Performance Tips & Apps

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John Corpuz

John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school. As a contributor to Tom's Guide he's found a happy middle ground writing about apps, mobile gaming and other geekery.

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  • Anonymous
    Shortly after buying my first Android device I became obsessed with understanding how multitasking in Android works, and I mean how it Really works, not just "press the home button and X will happen.".

    Only one person, across several so-called expert forums, ever gave the real story. Since then I verified that story by reading the information given to Android application developers on the official Android development site. Here is the summary.

    Android is designed to take advantage of caching. It is designed to use memory to keep recently and frequently accessed content readily available. It is designed to remember what was going on - taking an instant "snapshot" of where the app was - so it can return to it quickly and efficiently (read: return to it and context switch using as little work, so as little battery, as possible). This also means, for the most part, free memory on an Android device is effectively wasted memory.

    So, assuming the app is properly designed, the moment you place it in the background by switching to something else it should be consuming Zero resources unless it actually has work to do (most do not).

    So, what really happens to the average app and to your phone when you download "Task Killer 123" to make sure "those darn apps close for real!", well first of all you have another 24/7 active app running, which eats more resources. Then when you "kill" stuff, you lose your place in the app for one thing (it's pretty sweet to be able to switch away from a game in the middle of a level and instantly be back where you were, two weeks later). Second, you exert resources it shutting down, and even more resources starting it again later.

    To conclude, this dude was the only person explaining what the design intent actually was, which nobody else seemed to understand: "You don't have to worry about Exiting stuff. Just jump to the home screen and go do something else. Unless you are running like 50 apps you should not be 'running out' of memory".

    So yeah, please stop assuming you need cleaners, advanced task managers, tweakers, rooting, and all sorts of other stuff so you can delude yourself into thinking you are "improving your phones performance.".
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  • benikens
    Why no JuiceDefender? or Tasker doing the same thing? Auto toggle Wifi/3g is a massive booster of battery life with no effort.
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  • Shin-san
    The SD card isn't a problem. A 32 gig SDHC card is $20-40 depending on where you look.
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  • kensingtron
    FYI, rooting your device voids your warranty. If you've dropped $800 on a phone and still want to take your rooted phone back to the manufacturer when things go wrong your going to have a bad day.

    I work for a large phone manufacturer and turn rooted phones away on a daily basis.
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  • kenyee
    AnonymousSo yeah, please stop assuming you need cleaners, advanced task managers, tweakers, rooting, and all sorts of other stuff so you can delude yourself into thinking you are "improving your phones performance.".


    Depends on the phone...for the newer ones w/ enough memory, I'd agree with you...all that stuff is a waste of time.

    For phones that are in the low-end, I've had experience to the contrary and I'm a developer so I understand all that stuff too. In theory, it should work that way. On phones w/ not quite enough memory, they end up pretty much swapping programs in and out. In my case, I had a piece of crap Motorola Cliq that Motorola bloated up w/ their crappy MotoBlur UI/features. I think it probably had 256KB of free memory or less at times and was horribly laggy to the point that phone calls would come in and it would take so long to swap in the phone app that the call would dump into voicemail (3 rings). I ran ATK on it and it was hugely difference in response time so it was tolerable. The GPS would sometimes not lock at all too. What a piece of crap that was... :-P
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  • tarzan2001
    kenyeeDepends on the phone...for the newer ones w/ enough memory, I'd agree with you...all that stuff is a waste of time.For phones that are in the low-end, I've had experience to the contrary and I'm a developer so I understand all that stuff too. In theory, it should work that way. On phones w/ not quite enough memory, they end up pretty much swapping programs in and out. In my case, I had a piece of crap Motorola Cliq that Motorola bloated up w/ their crappy MotoBlur UI/features. I think it probably had 256KB of free memory or less at times and was horribly laggy to the point that phone calls would come in and it would take so long to swap in the phone app that the call would dump into voicemail (3 rings). I ran ATK on it and it was hugely difference in response time so it was tolerable. The GPS would sometimes not lock at all too. What a piece of crap that was... :-P


    I completely agree with you! I've used a program called FMR Memory Cleaner and it has helped a lot with my horrendously slow Kyocera Zio from Cricket Wireless. After browsing the web or playing a game, it usually takes around 30-60 seconds for the icons to reappear on the home screen! It's painfully slow to the point that now I only use it as an MP3 player, and I no longer have Cricket service (which is a sucky service anyway). Just yesterday I installed a program called Seeder, which is supposed to increase the amount of "random data" or something, thus decreasing load times for apps. I've noticed a bit of an improvement, but I'm not sure if that's just a placebo effect as I no longer use my phone even to browse the web as much as I used to because it's just that frustrating. Hopefully the program really is improving things. Let's see and find out... :)
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