Android is a wonderful platform because it encourages users and programmers to experiment with various apps, programs, and tweaks to make devices running the OS to perform even better. Change your keyboard, select the web browser of your choice, or even root your device guilt-free! There's always something else you can do to tweak your system to your liking, extend your battery life, and improve your performance. Here are a few suggestions, ranging from simple usage tips to full on optimization apps, to get more juice out of your battery and more performance out of your machine.
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As this screenshot on our Nexus 7 test machine shows, the display is by far one of the biggest offenders when it comes to battery consumption. There are a lot of ways to tweak this down, such as reducing the screen brightness, setting the device to sleep after short intervals of no input, and avoiding Live Wallpapers, that, while pretty, eat into your battery life.
You don't need all of your phone's features online all the time. The WiFi function, for example, will keep trying to look for a network to connect to, even when none is available, using up battery life with its radio. If you're away from your home, workspace, or friendly networks, you can turn it off (unless you're actively wardriving or piggybacking). The same goes for the GPS service. Unless you're actively using a navigation app or taking advantage of a location based service, you can turn off the GPS to save some juice and turn it back on when you need it. Rinse and repeat for Bluetooth. If you're not using a Bluetooth device, turn it off at the power widget until you need it. You can manage all of this yourself, or automate it with any number of power management tools.
Your device will usually have two kinds of storage: the internal storage that holds the Android OS, system files, and apps, and an external SD card that will generally hold bulky files such as movies, music, books, etc. It's fairly easy to clear up some space on the SD card: just delete the media files that you don't particularly need at the moment. If you're rooted, you can also use applications like SD Maid to track down the detritus of uninstalled programs and remove them from your drive. To recover more internal storage space, simply uninstall apps, or move them to your SD card.
Rooting your device allows you to utilize applications that require superuser permissions. These apps can open up a whole new world of options for tweaking, optimizing, and getting more out of your Android device. We've covered the many reasons to root your Android phone or tablet in the past, as well as offered up a few apps that take advantage of the abilities that rooting can give to improve performance.
1Tap Cleaner is an all-in-one cleaner app that dumps the contents of your cache, history, and call or text log with a single tap. It can also serve as a scheduler to auto-clean your system and includes a handy default cleaner that lists default settings you've defined (such as switching your default web browser) and gives you the option to revert to the native one. Simple to use, and free, 1Tap Cleaner is a useful app that provides the goods.
Editor's Note: 1Tap Cleaner also has a pro version that provides more scheduling options and a few other features. 1Tap Cleaner currently has compatibility issues with Android 4.0.1 & 4.0.2
Another neat and simple program, App Cache Cleaner dumps your application cache files, saving you phone memory and storage space. Be as thorough or as limited as you want, setting an auto-clear schedule or manually clearing the cache for individual programs. While 1Tap Cleaner wins out on comprehensive cleaners rolled into one package, App Cache Cleaner is certainly no slouch in its dedicated function.
We've featured SD Maid before in our list of apps for rooted Android devices, and it's certainly a great utility app. With the magic of superuser permissions, SD Maid digs through your device's internal memory to find widowed files and folders left behind from uninstalled apps, as well as doubling as a file manager. The free version is already quite useful, and more options can be unlocked by purchasing an unlock key.