Get the Most Out of Android with These Apps
No matter what version of Google's mobile OS you're running — we're up to Android Oreo on many devices with Android 9 Pie appearing on newer phones like the Galaxy S10, Pixel 3 and OnePlus 6T — Android remains a tinkerer's dream. Because Android is open in a way that other mobile OSes aren't (looking at you, iOS) you can tweak and optimize the system's performance from A to Z. Whether we're talking cache cleaners, junk file hunters, CPU overclocking tools, app disablers or task automation tools, plenty of Android apps help you get more out of your phone. Here are 20 of our favorites. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)
Clean Master (Free)
Cheetah Mobile's Clean Master comes with a Junk Files tool for cleaning your phone's app and system cache as well as temp files. It also sports a memory-saving Phone Boost tool, an app manager and antivirus feature. While you can probably skip the task-killer-like features of Phone Boost, the Junk File tool is great at cleaning out widowed and temporary files, as well as cleaning out your system cache to free up phone storage. The app manager allows users to backup APKs, move apps to the SD card and uninstall apps. There are also a lot of extras like an app lock, game mode, and a private photo locker.
All-in-One Toolbox (Free)
All-in-One Toolbox is just that: a versatile all-in-one Android booster app. AIO Toolbox follows the model of many apps with a quick one-tap booster that cleans up cache, background apps, and memory; it also includes extras like an app manager, file manager, and CPU cooler (which kills background apps to reduce load). A handy "Easy Swipe" brings up a radial menu to quickly access utilities from your home screen or other apps. Where the app does suffer a mite bit is in organization, with tools split across a vertical feed and multiple tabs.
The Cleaner (Free)
The Cleaner does exactly what it says on the tin: it's a cleaning and optimization app that works in a variety of tweaks into a single handy package. You'll find a memory optimizer, storage cleaner, app manager and game mode optimizer all rolled into one. The memory booster can be used to free up RAM and terminate unwanted processes, while the storage cleaner sifts through your phone for items that you can afford to delete to save some space, such as APKs, app caches, and other potentially junk files. The app manager lets you sort through your installed apps with a variety of filters and batch uninstall them; scheduled reminders can be set to regularly clean your device. An in-app purchase removes advertising.
Norton Security and Antivirus (Freemium)
As mobile computing becomes a bigger part of everyday life, leisure and productivity, mobile device security becomes more and more important. Norton is a trusted old name in the PC antivirus field, and it's also branched out with a freemium Android antivirus app. Norton Security and Antivirus provides reliable antivirus and anti-malware protection, and combines the package with a variety of anti-theft and 'find my phone' tools. A premium subscription unlocks extra security tools such as an App Advisor and Privacy Report that assesses the risks your apps may pose; there's also SafeWeb filtering. It's a great addition to your Android utilities, even with its system impact. Check out our in-depth look for more details.
BitDefender Mobile Security & Antivirus ($14.99 per year)
If you're willing to go straight to premium solutions for protecting your mobile device from malware and other security threats, check out BitDefender Mobile Security & Antivirus, our pick for the best Android antivirus app. BitDefender Mobile provides top-notch antimalware protection, with its scanning engine reliably scoring high in yearly tests, while app & web protection automatically scans new apps and visited websites for possible security threats. BitDefender also throws in some useful extras like a VPN, anti-theft features, a PIN or fingerprint-protected App Locker, and an Account Privacy tool for finding potential threats involving your email address.
Droid Optimizer (Free)
Ashampoo's an old standby when it comes to PC utilities, and the German software company has since branched out to develop mobile utility apps as well. Droid Optimizer is an all-in-one system optimization app that can be set for quick use, or for more detailed cleanup. A 1-Touch Speed Up mode can be set to clean the memory cache and stop background apps (with an optional whitelist), while a more selective Clean Up mode lets you go point by point. An App Manager lets you bulk uninstall apps or view permissions, while a Privacy Advisor flags apps with that have been granted permissions that might be abused for your review. There's even a handy automatic scheduling mode to automate cleanup or disable Wi-Fi at night.
GO Speed (Free)
GO Speed by the GOMO team offers a familiar suite of memory and storage cleaning tools, with a Memory Boost tool to try to reduce RAM load by killing tasks in the background, a Junk File cleaner for clearing out app caches and other possible space hogs, an App Manager and App Lock. A sidebar conceals additional tools such as a Battery Saver, Game Booster, CPU Cooler, Duplicate Photo finder, and a notification cleaner.
Cleaner, by VPN Master Labs, provides a good field of basic system cleaning functions, with a basic junk file cleaner and task killer for freeing up memory and space, as well as a CPU cooler and Antivirus scanner in its quick access menu. You can also take a quick look at storage use stats, check out an app manager, find duplicate photos and big files, set notifications for times of high memory use to remind you to clean your phone, and create a white list of apps to ignore during cache cleaning.
Power Clean (Free)
LIONMOBI's Power Clean is another popular all-in-one cleaner and system optimizer app, offering a broad range of tools to free up internal storage space and clean up memory with an eye toward improving your device's performance. The app comes with a cache cleaner and a junk file cleaner to root out remnant files from uninstalled apps, as well as memory cleaners, and an obsolete APK cleaner for removing old versions of an app from your storage. Power Clean also comes with some extras like antivirus functions, an app locker, app manager, as well as CPU cooler, and CPU and Battery monitors.
DU Speed Booster (Free)
Another comparable all-in-one Android optimization tool is DU Speed Booster, which comes with a Trash Cleaner for app cache and junk file cleaning, a one-touch accelerator, app manager, antivirus tool, privacy advisor and built-in Internet speed test. Again, the benefits of task-killing with accelerators are dubious, but DU Speed Booster's junk file / cache cleaner is a great way to free up internal storage space. And the app manager and other tools are also solid extras.
Piriform's CCleaner is one of the best PC maintenance tools for Windows machines, and it's also gone mobile with an Android app that's the perfect tool to help you clean the cruft out of your system. Like its desktop sibling, CCleaner for Android is a multipurpose cleaning tool that can empty out your application cache, download folders, browser history and other temporary files; you also have the option to clean your call and SMS log selectively or in bulk. In addition to its fast, ad-free cleaning experience, CCleaner also comes with an app manager, meters for CPU, RAM and storage and battery and temperature tools.
SD Maid (Free, $2.28 pro version)
SD Maid offers a variety of tools to help users free up additional disk space and manage apps. System Cleaner goes through your storage and file system to find files that can be safely deleted, while "Corpse Finder" specializes in searching for widowed files left behind by uninstalled apps. The app also includes an app manager as well as a built-in file manager. The Pro version includes an App Cleaner that clears out app caches, a duplicate file finder and a task scheduler for automating your system cleaning.
Speedtest by Ookla (Free)
Speedtest by Ookla brings one of the most popular internet speed testing services straight to your touchscreen, providing easy, one-tap speedtesting so that you can check out whether you're really getting the upload and download speeds you're paying for. Along with the download, upload and ping tests, the Speedtest app also includes extras like results tracking and troubleshooting aids, as well as mobile and LTE coverage maps based on Speedtest results for your area. It's our app of choice when we do our annual tests of network LTE speeds.
Nova Launcher (Free)
Another element that could be slowing your Android phone down is the custom launcher that the phone maker has installed. If you find all the extras and doodads distracting — or worse, if you find that they actually slow your phone down — consider getting a customizable launcher like Nova Launcher. Fast, sleek and highly customizable, Nova Launcher is among the best modern Android launcher apps. Nova balances extensive appearance and utility customizations with a minimal performance impact, letting you set your home screen just right without slowing down performance. There are a lot of options to work through, from color themes to icon packs, scrollable docks to app drawer customizations, folder settings and infinite scrolling.
If you're willing to void your warranty (and run the risk of bricking or damaging your mobile device), you can gain some neat utility by rooting your Android device. Magisk is an app that helps you do a “systemless root” of your phone, allowing you to access superuser permissions without changing your system partition as you would need to using traditional rooting methods. This has a bunch of benefits, including the ability to keep receiving OTA updates to your OS, as well as making it easy for you to selectively hide the rooted status of your device from apps that use Android's SafetyNet feature to detect a rooted device. (These include Netflix and many banking apps.) It's effectively the best of both worlds, though as usual, rooting does involve a certain amount of risk and voiding your device's warranty.
Android also features powerful apps that can automate trivial or repetitive tasks based on a variety of triggers. Among the most famous of these is Tasker, a versatile task automation app for Android phones that lets you create your own automatic task scripts. From automatically silencing your phone at work, killing your mobile data when arriving at home or firing up your music app when you plug in your headphones, there are so many possible uses for Tasker that it'd be folly to attempt to describe them all. While Tasker works perfectly fine even without root access, installing it on a rooted phone allows you to utilize even more custom task options. You can even take some of these automatic scripts and publish them in app format with the Tasker App Factory add on.
While Tasker excels at lower level hardware and software automation, IFTTT focuses on internet and app automation based on a variety of triggers. The app allows users to create customized "recipes" or tasks built around the structure "If this, then that" (from which the app takes its name). For instance, you could automatically receive your favorite team's recent game score the minute ESPN posts it. IFTTT employs a wide variety of triggers and actions ranging from websites, apps and even other devices and peripherals. You can even browse through other people's trending and featured recipes, as well as themed collections and all-time favorites that you can install or modify.
3c Toolbox / Android Tuner (requires root) (Free)
3c Toolbox, formerly known as Android Tuner, provides users with a ton of diagnostic and tweaking tools that savvy users can employ to improve the health of their system. The toolbox includes a task manager; you can also backup or restore APKs, check on CPU governor or adjust system settings such as SD cache size. There's also a wealth of diagnostic data to view. As with any app that tinkers with system settings, be careful of what you tinker with in 3c Toolbox and do your research before changing anything.
Greenify basically puts an app in a state of hibernation, where it's unable to access system resources or bandwidth or run background processes. However, Greenify allows you to run an app normally in the foreground when explicitly called by the user without any extra fuss. If you've got memory or battery hogs that keep draining resources in the background, don't bother with a task-killer when you can just Greenify it. Just don't do that to your alarm clock or messenger, unless you want them to stop working.
AnTuTu Benchmark (Free)
Maybe you're jealous of all those cool benchmarking details uncovered by Tom's Guide and other sites in their reviews. Join in by grabbing the AnTuTu Benchmark app yourself. It tests pretty much every key component of your smartphone. When done, the app will compare your performance to other devices. Nothing beats bragging for geek supremacy than overpowering the competition in several key areas.