I did something I’ve done before last night. It didn’t take long and, after I’d done it, I felt better.
Why? Well, I’m sure we’ve all been there. Many call me an Android fanboy but I’m fully prepared to point out the faults with any OS and any handset. I’ve owned my handset for quite a while and, in recent months, it’s started to slow. Apps have been hogging memory, sucking CPU time or accessing other bits of my phone to basically bog-down the experience.
Handset manufacturers are having to fight this, because the Android OS just isn’t. Why? Well, apps can be installed which can sit in the background, run on startup and push notifications. Let’s face it, we just click “OK” when we see the permissions requirements of an app. It could say, “This app can drive your car, drink your beer and call you weak”, I’d probably still click ” OK” because I don’t check that screen properly.
I’ve been using an Honor 4X handset recently and it’s got a built-in system to tell me what apps are sucking power and data. You’ll also see other solutions designed to monitor apps that are running in the background, drinking your processor time and memory.
You can uninstall apps, you can have a periodic clean-up, but I end up advising a complete reset. It’ll refresh the phone back to that out-of-the-box state and Google will keep your contacts, diary appointments and everything else. Google will also, if you’ve selected it, restore all your apps back again; so it’s important to stop that happening and re-install only that apps you want.
You shouldn’t have to do this. Android handles memory and CPU usage for the most part, but you’re always going to have apps which sit there in the background, running services and processes for notifications and other such “useful” features.
There are other ways of keeping your Android phone running quickly. Take the LinkedIn app as an example. If I want to stop it giving me “helpful” popups and notifications I’ll need to go into the app, then into the settings, then remove the tick next to “Send push notifications”. The same can be said for Facebook, TuneIn and many other apps. Yes, some apps I will want little notifications popping up, but others I really don’t just leave me alone. Stop running all that gubbins in the background.
This kinda takes me back to the infamous “close button” issue on Windows Mobile back in the day. Basically, people were annoyed because, after clicking the “X” button, the app wouldn’t really close. It would, instead, hover around in the background and take a slice of memory and CPU. Here on Android, apps can sit in the background after you’ve closed them but, worse still, they can open themselves up and fire up a load of background processes the second you turn on your phone. You don’t even have to open the app! They’re sitting right there, ticking away.
Sure, it might be a 37.15 MB download, but it’s already using stacks more storage and seems to have rights to do almost anything on my phone. It can look at my accounts, read my contacts, look at running apps, see where I am, check my calendar, call numbers, send texts and (most importantly for me) run at startup. No thank you, and no, I don’t want to have to go into the myriad of options within Facebook and faff around with the privacy settings. Just stop doing all that.
Go into “Apps” in settings on the Android OS and you’ll find that it’s running a number of background processes. Stopping these might help for a while, but they’ll soon start up again. I can also see other apps sitting quietly in the background, digging through my memory, CPU and battery life. Stop it. Stop all that you lot. Again, I could go into each app, tweak the settings, turn off “Run at startup” or “Push notifications” or other “Background processes” but it takes time and effort.
For Facebook, which I don’t use a great deal anyway, I’ve taken this solution. Firstly, I’ve gone into my Chrome browser, then to facebook.com. Then I go into the menu (top right or the three dots) and click “Add to home screen”. It’ll then ask me for a Title, and I’ll just call it “Facebook”. Done.
Now I have a Facebook link which takes me into the mobile version of their site. The mobile site is fully featured and works well anyway, and I’ve really not lost a great deal as a “light Facebook user” by doing this. If you’re more “into” Facebook and want the full features afforded by the app it’ll probably not be for you. However, for me I now have Facebook running when I want. I can open LinkedIn when I want and neither “app” will be running in the background. Neither will be pushing notifications, or looking through my contacts, or fiddling about with data, CPU, memory and storage on my phone. I simply whack a button, do what I need to do and then I’ll know it’s closed after.
Likewise, if I do the same with the likes of LinkedIn and other apps that have great web portals, you really don’t need the full app if you’re not a huge user.
You can’t get away with this trick if you want to use Skype, Spotify or WhatsApp etc, but I’ve definitely got a more lightweight and speedy experience thanks to the removal of the Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay or Amazon etc.