When I first wrote about Elixir, that post made quite a splash. It turns out many people want a good, free, system information tool for Android. Well, for all of you out there, I have some great news today. Elixir 2 is much more powerful than the first version, and can probably replace several other apps you’re currently using, as well as add lots of new functionality you never knew you wanted.
Elixir’s developer seems to make a conscious effort to avoid bloat, so Elixir 2 is offered as a suite of separate applications. It goes like this – you’ve got Elixir 2 itself, which is the core app we’ll be looking at. Then there’s Elixir 2 – Widgets, which is a separate app that provides (surprise) widget functionality. If you just want powerful system widgets, you can install Elixir 2 – Widgets on its own, as it doesn’t need Elixir 2 to run. Then there are the permission-related add-ons: Elixir 2 – Personal for allowing features that require access to personal data (missed calls, message unread counts), and Elixir 2 – Admin for allowing features that require device admin permissions – specifically, turning off the screen for you. All of these are completely free, by the way.
I went ahead and installed everything except for Elixir 2 – Admin. I can’t hope to encompass everything Elixir 2 has to offer in a single post, but I’ll try to take you through some of the nicer highlights in no particular order.
Widgets in The Notification Area
This one is big:
That’s my notification area. See that bar right under Quicker? That’s Elixir 2. I can see at a glance my battery temperature, memory status, CPU load, RAM usage, number of apps running, and uptime. Now let’s see what happens when I tap one of these:
I get a zoomed-in version of the same widget, which I can use to drill further down. For example, let’s tap the RAM icon:
I am instantly taken into Elixir 2, which opens at the processes/services screen, letting me see exactly what’s eating up my system resources. This is quite a bit of information to take in, so fortunately, Elixir lets me slice and dice it any way I want:
I can filter processes by text, by system/user processes, or by background processes. I can also sort them any way I want. Since I’m interested in RAM use, let’s sort by memory:
A-ha! Now I can see exactly what’s using my phone’s memory. For example, I never realized how much RAM the Dropbox client eats up, even when I’m not actually doing anything with it. Well, I can easily fix that. A simple tap of the process opens this menu:
I find the “More information” entry somewhat amusing, as how much more information could I possibly want? This is what happens when you tap it:
I guess this is handy if you’re a developer. For me, the “Kill process” option is enough. Just a single tap, and I now have 27MB more free RAM. Not that I advise killing processes on a routine basis, of course. Android tends to handle this very elegantly, and I don’t generally use a task killer. Still, it’s nice to be able to drill down so deep.
Since we’re already in Elixir, let’s take a quick look at the main screen:
Many of these categories were already present in Elixir 1, but the interface definitely feels slicker and more polished this time around. For an application that offers such a rich set of data, Elixir manages to stay wonderfully usable all throughout.
Widgets were already offered in Elixir 1, but Elixir 2 offers all-new icons, better widget performance (less CPU usage), and the option to open widgets via shortcut. Let’s see how that last one works:
And this is what you see after tapping “Add new” and selecting a widget size:
At which point you need to populate the widget by tapping each of the slots (X’s), much like in Elixir 1:
Now I can create a shortcut to this widget on my homescreen:
The shortcut itself looks like this:
And this is what happens when I tap it:
This is great, because it saves screen space, as well as battery life. The widget uses battery only when you open it.
Since Elixir can do so much, you do need to read its documentation to make the most of it. Fortunately, the documents are well-written, contain many screenshots, and are not overly verbose.
Elixir 2 is so good, I can’t believe it’s free. This is one of the most powerful Android apps I’ve reviewed in recent memory. If you need any sort of system utility, be sure to check it out. It may take you some time to master, but in the final analysis, it’s well worth it. Let us know what you think of it in the comments below.
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