How to keep your Android running smoothly

As Android phones grow stronger, they are becoming more and more like tiny computers, literally.  Many come standard with dual-core processors and at least 1GB RAM, which is where our PCs were less than 7 years ago.  Because of the complexity and open-source nature of the Android operating system, a little maintenance can go a long way in keeping your phone running at optimal efficiency. Following these basic guidelines will show a dramatic improvement in your Android’s performance, and you will have a much smoother overall experience.

Task Management
We use our phones for music, GPS, phone calls, texting, web browsing, document editing, and more – sometimes all at once!  Learning how to manage all of your open tasks can help free up some memory and keep your phone from freezing up or force closing.

Before Android 2.1, Advanced Task Killer and other apps were a great way to close unneeded apps and clear out your memory.  With the release of 2.1 and beyond, however, Android phones now come with a built in task manager that provides many of the same features, and more.  With these new task managers you can close any open application, manually clear out your cache memory (which is split into 2 levels of depth), and see exactly which programs are taking up the most memory and space.  Task-killing apps are no longer necessary, and having them run at the same time as the built-in task manager could even hinder the performance of the phone and drain your battery.

Battery Management
Battery life is probably the most common issue with Android smartphones. Luckily, there are several ways to improve it!  To get a better understanding of your battery life, I suggest downloading Battery Indicator.  Android phones usually only tell you the battery percentage by multiples of 10, but Battery Indicator will tell you exactly how much you have left.  Upgrade it and you will be able to see how long it’s been unplugged, how long it’s expected to last, and more.  Here are a few other tips:

  • Shut off your display’s auto-brightness and keep it around 40%.  This is usually sufficient to be visible in most environments, and won’t require extra juice to keep transitioning from one brightness level to the next.
  • Install a widget that lets you shut 3G/4G and Wi-Fi on and off.  When you have Wi-Fi turned on while not in a wireless network area, it will just keep scanning, which in turn will drain your battery.  The same goes for if you are on a wireless network yet have 3G turned on.  4G especially is a battery hog, but recent models such as the DROID RAZR Maxx have vastly improved the battery life of 4G phones.
  • Lastly, there are several apps that claim to help your battery life. The best one that I’ve found is JuiceDefender.  Basically, you can set it to shut the 3G/4G connections off each time your screen goes blank, among several other possible tweaks.  This will make the battery last much longer than usual, at the expense of not receiving emails unless your screen is on.


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