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11 Android apps to boost speed, battery life and more

Want your Android device to work faster and more efficiently? These apps can help.

By Eric Geier
September 16, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - 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.)

1Tap Cleaner

Sam Lu
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

Price: Free
Android Assistant

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.

App 2 SD

Sam Lu
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.

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