Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Has 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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“.
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.
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.