Kick Your Crappy Android Apps To The Curb With 4 Free & Simple Apps

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robot   Kick Your Crappy Android Apps To The Curb With 4 Free & Simple AppsHas the performance and battery life on your mobile dropped off? A gang of dysfunctional and buggy apps probably cause such decline. Getting rid of the errant apps remains the single best performance enhancing tip. Unfortunately, most users lack the slightest idea of which miscreant apps to kill.

This article details 4 apps that specialize in finding and murdering crappy apps – Carat identifies battery wasters. Autokillers can configure to automatically kill bad apps. Permission Explorer helps you find apps with awful permissions. Autorun Manager can prevent bad apps from automatically starting.

Introduction

Before getting started, there are two important technical concerns that you need to know. First, apps on Android run in both the background and foreground. Foreground apps, the apps that display on your screen, don’t secretly impact your phone’s performance. The delinquent apps running in the background are the ones you must watch for.

Second, even after hitting the back button on an application, most programs continue operation in the background. Not all these apps are bad, although some particularly bad examples will heavily impact performance and battery life.

These two factors, together, contribute considerably to poor overall performance.

Part 1: Carat

Some heavy hitting PhD researchers over at the University of California Berkeley came up with a way for Android and iOS users to save battery life. Their software analyzes a user’s apps and usage statistics. Carat’s analysis may take several hours or days, depending on how often you use your phone – in my case, it immediately reported apps that were draining my battery. Two such programs, Photo Editor by Aviary and Wolfram Alpha, classified as “battery hogs”. Carat even calculated how much additional battery time my handset would gain from removing said apps.

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Carat’s analysis identifies two kinds of defective apps – those that suffer from bugs on particular phones and those that drain too much energy, regardless of the phone: hogs.

The app also suggests actions that will reduce battery drain and improve operating life. Finally, Carat displays an analysis showing your phone’s percentile ranking, relative to others. My “J-score” value came in at 80, meaning the phone in the higher 80th percentile of devices in battery life.

carat   Kick Your Crappy Android Apps To The Curb With 4 Free & Simple Apps

Carat will offer to kill wasteful battery hogs. Simply choose “Action” from the main menu and it will display apps a list of battery hogs. From there just tapping on the app kills it.

Part 2: Autokillers

Given that Carat can identify problematic background apps, you can then choose to automatically eliminate them using what’s called an “auto-killer”. Auto-killers such as Smart RAM Booster can configure to automatically disable background apps. However, some apps specifically run in the background – although most do so without seriously impairing your phone’s performance or battery life. Most of these free android apps can be removed.

However, on occasion a select few indispensable apps, such as Wolfram Alpha or Photo Editor, function poorly while in the background – rather than removing these apps, you can simply use the autokiller to remove them.

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Just whitelist all the apps that you don’t recognize.

However, if Carat fails to identify any irreplaceable apps, then you probably don’t need an autokiller.

Part 3: Permission Explorer

Permission Explorer, as its name suggests, identifies apps by their requested permissions. To illustrate, whenever you install an app, Google requires that the app let the user know exactly what services and components it intends on accessing. If an app needs Internet, it must inform the user that it will access the device’s data components. However, many apps abuse these permissions and request information outside of the software’s scope, for various nefarious or frivolous purposes.

The best example of this security flaw is the READ_CONTACTS permission. Permission to contacts allows any developer to walk off with the personal information of all your contacts.

I find it most useful to go to “Permissions” in the menu bar. Here we can see all the various kinds of personal information that apps can take from users and save to their own servers. Many of the the apps that ask for this kind of information actually use it in an ethical manner, but some can be dangerous.

permissions Screen Shot   Kick Your Crappy Android Apps To The Curb With 4 Free & Simple Apps

Another kind of app that siphons off your handset’s performance is the auto-starter. They request the permission RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED. Most auto-starting apps don’t seriously impact your phone’s performance, but if you don’t see a reason for the app to start on boot, chances are it’s simply wasting battery life.

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I highly suggest taking a very close look at the various permissions granted to each program. If you see free android apps you don’t particularly trust requesting a highly sensitive permission, such as pertaining to contacts, reconsider its use

Part 4: Autorun Manager

Autorun Manager identifies startup “receivers”. Receivers function as startup triggers for programs.  Although Autorun Manager received mention in my last article on getting better performance out of your Android phone, I’d like to elaborate a little more on how to use Autorun Manager’s startup removal process for unrooted phones.

Simply fire the app up and go to “Recommended Basic Mode“.

autorun screen shot   Kick Your Crappy Android Apps To The Curb With 4 Free & Simple Apps

The apps here start at bootup, which wastes system resources and drains the battery. Most programs don’t actually need to start and run in the background, so preventing them from starting on boot won’t have too many drawbacks. Use discretion, though, as some apps do require startup privileges.

Also, some programs, if blocked, will continually attempt to restart in the background. The only program that I’ve encountered that regenerated its startup entry was the K-9 email client.

If you want lightweight apps, without startup triggers, check out this list of efficient apps.

Conclusion

We live in an amazing age where there’s seemingly a free android app for everything. Unfortunately, the modern smartphone oftentimes quickly bogs down the ponderous weight of a hundred kinds of software of which most aren’t ever really needed. The best solution is to thin your stock of apps down to the barest essentials. I advocate also freeing up some storage space.

To achieve this end, the best method uses a variety of apps to identify, remove and inhibit inefficient, wasteful apps from impacting your phone’s performance.

Remember that these tools are powerful and should be used judiciously.

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14 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Mark

FYI, to “kick to the curve” is an eggcorn for “kick to the curb”.

Anonymous

Mark, I really appreciate your help. :-D Eggcorn on my face!

Reply

Christine

I love and look forward to all your information. Thank you for taking the time to help people like me who needs some coaching. I have a question if you can help or direct me in the right direction ..what and how do I find out what apps or files I really need or can stop? Thank you again.

Reply

Bben

Good info. The bad programmer habit of making a program always stay alive in background – even when not needed has always been a pet peeve of mine. (yes, a smartphone is a computer too)

Reply

Schvenn Meister

LBE Security Master does this better. You can get the English version @ http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1422479
I wrote a review of LBE here: http://www.schvenn.net/blog:android-protection

I’m definitely give Carat a look, though.

Reply

arkhadius

Keep in mind that autokillers are also batterykillers at the same time. Most apps, when you kill them, just start again which drains battery a little bit more than just keeping it open. Autokillers then kill them again, rinse and repeat.
Permission checkers are not that great, either. You can just check what the app does. But you can’t deny a permission. Unless you don’t want to delete 3/4 of your apps, you’ll always have something potentially dangerous in your phone.

Federico

Task killers are useless in Android. The OS frees your RAM as it is needed and is not designed to work well with task killers because of what you say. I don’t get why people still keep advising to use this kind of app.
The author refers to killing apps that stay in the background when not used but the case is that most of the times this is futile because they come back, effectively beating the purpose of killing them to save RAM and/or battery.

arkhadius

Exactly. Well, they are probably easy to develop and even easier to brainwash people that they need task killers :P
Hard luck, but there are worse things. Like apps that defragment android files (which is even more pointless). Or battery “savers” for people too lazy to just turn off their wi-fi for the night themselves :P

Anonymous

Good point Federico. I should have addressed this point more clearly in the article.

On unrooted phones, older phones oftentimes the manufacturer didn’t properly set the min and max RAM values. These phones get sluggish very quickly. In this instance, autokillers are useful, but only for killing off useless apps.

Autokillers are best used for buggy/poorly written apps.

I suggested using Carat to identify energy wasters – if the app is indispensable, use an autokiller (but whitelist EVERYTHING except the buggy app). This method gives you the best of both worlds. If Carat doesn’t find bad app then you don’t need the autokiller.

Schvenn Meister

You absolutely can deny permissions. You just need a rooted device.

Reply

Gary Mundy

Thanks, this hopefully will help me be able to manage with an older phone until my contract expires

Reply

Kenneth Hooper

Bottom line true of all OS systems – give the operating system enough room/memory to work with. The biggest slow-down seems to be when the device has less than 10-15% free space on it

Reply

TarekRam

some apps when kill they restart and take some power for that

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