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Android tune-up: How to boost performance while you wait for Lollipop

Anndrew Vacca | March 6, 2015
Android 5.0 Lollipop has been heralded as the operating system's biggest step forward to date. Improved battery life and performance through changes to Android's core runtime and power management systems are among the most anticipated enhancements among users, given their promise of a faster, more efficient experience."

Android 5.0 Lollipop has been heralded as the operating system's biggest step forward to date. Improved battery life and performance through changes to Android's core runtime and power management systems are among the most anticipated enhancements among users, given their promise of a faster, more efficient experience."

At least that's the theory. Unfortunately, for the 98 percent of Android devices eagerly awaiting their Lollipop update, there's no way of knowing whether Lollipop will breathe new life into their devices. That's where third-party developers can fill the performance gap, as they have been since Android's earliest days.

For years, developers have been tinkering with tools to prolong your device's battery life and improve its performance, using similar methods to what Google is now implementing. These apps employ a number of tweaks and tricks to squeeze the most out of Android hardware regardless of their age or horsepower.

Here, we put several of the most popular third-party battery and performance management apps to the test to see whether they're worth a download as you wait for Lollipop to land and to find out how they stack up against Android 5.0's improvements.

Android 5.0 battery and performance improvements

Android 5.0 completely changes how devices manage their internal hardware.

Lollipop's transition from Dalvik to ART (Android Runtime) as its primary process virtual machine marks the most significant change. Unlike Dalvik, which compiles an app's bytecode each time it is opened, ART compiles it only once, when the app is first installed on the device. Thanks to this AoT (Ahead of Time) technology, ART conserves battery and processing power, while bringing Android to full 64-bit compatibility, reducing the number of garbage collecting events, and dynamically moving memory, all of which translates into faster, more fluid performance throughout the UI.

Similar improvements have been made to Android's power management systems. New job-scheduling APIs allow a device to postpone certain intensive background tasks, like server syncing and data pulling, until a device is connected to Wi-Fi or, better yet, a power source. Lollipop also keeps more accurate track of how your battery is performing and makes this data available to third-party apps, which in turn can be optimized accordingly.

Those already running Lollipop have likely noticed the improvements. From basic navigation to stock and third-party app performance, Lollipop is snappier and smoother than previous versions, including KitKat. Recent studies have shown that Lollipop now bests iOS 8 in terms of stability, marking the first time Android has come out on top when compared to iOS.

But for those suffering the ills of Android fragmentation and not yet able to take advantage of the OS's latest improvements, a number of apps from Google Play will achieve similar results through similar approaches.

 

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