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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."

Apps that add life to your battery

Battery-saving tools make up one of the most downloaded categories on Google Play. This app breed claims to improve your device's battery life through a variety of approaches, and believe it or not, some actually work quite well. There's no magic trick, and they don't find extra lithium hiding untapped in your battery — instead they simply better manage what your device does and when it does it.

Take for example JuiceDefender (free) and JuiceDefender Plus ($1.99) by LateDroid, the free version of which boasts more than 7 million downloads to date. Essentially JuiceDefender employs the same tactics Lollipop does: by scheduling synchronizations and other battery-intensive tasks, automatically managing data connections and CPU performance, and toggling Wi-Fi based on location awareness, Juice Defender is able to improve the performance of your existing hardware. True Battery Saver (free) uses similar techniques to achieve similar results.

Then there are apps like Battery Doctor (free) by Cheetah Mobile, which — with more than 330 million downloads — is one of the most popular apps in the category for good reason. Battery Doctor takes it a step further by not only automatically scheduling and killing tasks and activities but also managing the charge cycles of your device. Battery Doctor reminds you when to charge your device and, more important, when to stop charging your device by employing what it calls a "three-charge cycle" designed to let your battery properly rest between cycles. The science behind it says that lithium-ion batteries are negatively affected by improper charging habits, such as charging too often or for too long, which Battery Doctor aims to regulate. DU Battery Saver (free) and GO Battery Saver (free) use similar techniques to improve your battery's performance.

In my informal testing, which involved running one app at a time for one full day of normal usage, I saw a variety of mostly positive results. Scheduling background processes, killing apps, and managing connections indeed had a positive impact on battery life; claims to optimize charging cycles or improve battery "health" had less tangible results. This isn't to say, though, that aging devices with run-down batteries won't see some improvement.

It's worth noting that many of the newest devices on the market today claim to regulate charging cycles on their own, eliminating the need for these apps altogether. However, if you're looking to simply squeeze an extra hour or two out of your day and your device remains in standby for a significant portion of that day, any app that can schedule and regulate background processes is worth investigating.

Apps that give your device more zip

Google Play is also rife with apps aimed at optimizing CPU and memory performance. These apps claim to improve how fast your device feels, how well it handles multitasking, and indirectly, how long your battery lasts.

 

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