Every proud new owner of a smartphone will end up frustrated with the short battery life and memory issues. I am no exception and naturally I have scoured the Android Market for “System Utilities” to help me handle some these issues. There are some really amazing apps that can boost memory, improve battery life and improve device performance significantly, but many of these “All in One” solutions require rooted phones and some may not work in all phone models.
In this article we will explore 35 apps currently available on the Market that are very useful for monitoring your Android phone usage, tweaking, the system and taking control of how you use your device. Some of these apps will help you understand your Android phone performance and advanced features. The apps I like the most are those that show detailed infographics: graphical displays of usage statistics and system performance. Many of these apps have really helped me to fine-tune my phone’s performance.
A note about Task Killers: starting from Android 2.2 there is no need for Task Killers (already included as core app) but it helps to have some extra functionality from third party apps.
My favorite app in this list is Norton Mobile Utilities. Although currently in beta, and admittedly with room for improvement, its absolutely stunning user interface and graphical representation of data makes it very attractive. It provides detailed information on the behavior of individual apps, such as battery usage, CPU time, system time, user time, memory usage, and permissions. It also packs an installer, a move to SD card feature, system info, network monitor and other features. I think future versions will solve many of the issues, like the way it calculates minutes and data usage.
SystemPanel integrates a task manager, app manager (installer/uninstaller with multi-version APK archival), and system monitor. The most useful feature is the background monitoring service to record long-term CPU usage by individual apps. This gives the ability to record device usage history over a period of time (up to one week), so that you can determine what applications and usage patterns have the greatest impact on battery life. The historical consumption data are shown as bar charts over a timescale. You can compare the charts before and after Task Management to see the difference in battery life. Also there is an option to disable background monitoring if you don’t want it running all the time.
Wi-Fi Analyzer is an amazingly simple app that takes you by surprise. At first I was just looking for an app to show some extra information about my Wi-Fi setup at home. I discovered this app purely because it has more than a million installs from the Market. It shows your Wi-Fi signal in a dynamic “color coded area plot” and the best part is that it shows overlapping signals from your neighbors. You can manually assign channels to your Wi-Fi receiver in your phone to boost the signal strength and less crowded zone. I don’t know if it works for all phones but I strongly recommend everyone to at least give it a try.
ZDbox is one of those All-in-One apps that really delivers what it promises. I like the notification bar quick access to useful info like remaining battery time, running apps, how much data traffic is left and whether app lock is active or not. In addition to featuring the usual set of tools like task killer, move to SD and traffic monitor, it also gives two unique tools: “do not disturb mode” (more control over silent or airplane mode) and App Lock (to protect sensitive information).
Android Status is yet another app with a really simple user interface. It features CPU Memory usage, Process List, Mobile Network information, Internet Connections, Network Info (IP Address, Gateway, MAC Address), Wi-Fi Status, Battery Status, Storage(SD card) Usage, Routing Info, and /proc Viewer. The unique feature is that it offers equivalent of linux/unix commands like ps, pstree, netstat, ifconfig and route, which some might find very useful.
Speedtest.net Mobile is the native Android version of the most popular broadband speed test on the Internet. I really like the speedometer-style user interface and its overall performance. There are some minor bugs and I am sure future updates will solve most of these issues. If you want to monitor your mobile broadband speed and keep a track of it then this will be a very useful tool. I wish the developers would add a ‘move to SD card’ option in future updates.
Elixir is a system information application with highly configurable widgets. This app is very popular with lots of good reviews. It is a collection of widgets for almost everything you need, from Wi-Fi switch to auto-sync switch. I recommend the personal add-on if you have this app already and don’t mind giving access to personal info like SMS and call usage.
This app is really useful in terms of managing your apps and boosting system memory. It has the usual collection of tools such as task management and auto kill processes. The unique feature is that it can show “risk info”, like which apps can call outgoing, or can send out SMS, or can use Camera, or can find your location, and so on. It offers batch install / uninstall, the ability to backup APK files and move to SD card options to easily manage your apps. I like the way it helps you to sort your downloaded apps, filter the good ones and remove unwanted apps easily. Advanced features are available for rooted phones.
This app is by far the best tool to erase your history on Android devices (click the title for correct url as there are a lot of similar apps in the Market). It does a fantastic job at cleaning up your phone, delete your search history, remove your call log, delete sms, clean up your clipboard, clear all apps’ cache files, clear frequently called, erase market search history and much more. Going ad-free for an extra buck is entirely your preference. I love this app and use it every day, mainly to clear cache files for apps like Feedly and USAtoday with just once click.
JuiceDefender is very good at managing your battery life. It is fully customizable and helps you to easily manage Mobile Data, Wi-Fi and CPU speed, so you can keep power consumption under control (e.g. by disabling connectivity when the battery runs low), schedule regular Synchronization events, enable or disable connectivity for specific apps, auto-toggle Wi-Fi depending on your location, and much more. The feature I like the most is the location-aware Wi-Fi toggle. The key is to choose the correct preset that works for you.
Batery Monitor Widget offers complete battery monitoring with notification icon, history, graphics and alarms, battery capacity, charge/discharge (mA & mW), voltage, temperature and remaining time estimates. It gives one-click access to detailed graphical display about battery consumption.
This is a beautiful battery widget (2×1) with customizable interface (different colors) for the standard Home Screen. If all you need is a simple widget to show battery consumption this is an excellent choice. Check out other great widgets from the same developer.
I am a big fan of toggle switches. This pack contains toggles for Airplane Mode, APN, Auto-Rotate, Auto-Sync, Bluetooth, Brightness, GPS, Lock Screen, Network 2G/3G, Screen Timeout, Silent Mode and Wi-Fi
This is yet another battery widget that is hugely popular due to its analog (gauge) visual representation of battery usage. It features small, medium and large versions with high quality graphics; battery percent in widget (shows percentage of battery life left); battery status in status bar (can be turned off!); configurable battery widget color options; and temperature and voltage display in status bar
Another one of my favorites from the developer Latedroid and a nice addition to JuiceDefender discussed above. It is basically a battery usage graph that combines full at-a-glance information about your battery consumption with sheer beauty. The colored bands along the graph show your screen brightness, radio usage, charging status and battery temperature and it includes an accurate widget that shows how long until battery is fully drained/recharged.
This is yet another widget pack to let you to turn on or off almost any setting on your phone, right from your home screen. Every aspect of Power Control Plus’s widgets are customizable, including color, size and behavior. The main features are its Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) compatibility, seven different widget sizes (including vertical widgets), nine different indicator light colors, and ability to save battery life by not running all the time in the background. Also, you can change background transparency and add shortcuts to any app on the widget.
Quick Settings does what it says, offering a quick and easy way to control your phone settings via widgets. It also promises to control battery consumption. It has a nice clean UI and works great. The screen brightness slider control is very handy if you want to go for the paid version.
SD Tools is not your regular system app but it is really useful to check your microSD card information (Name, Date, MID, OEMID,…). You can also check whether your card is fake, by checking its serial number, MID and OEMID. The feature I like most is the benchmark option, which evaluates your device’s SD card writing and reading speeds (so you’ll know when it’s time to buy a new SD card with more capacity). It may not be a daily use app, but it is worth trying it at least once.
Price: Free; SeePU++ paid version offers extra features for $2.77 Developer: Latedroid
SeePU shows the current CPU, RAM and data network utilization in the notification area. There are a lot of CPU apps but most require rooted phones. It was refreshing to see something that doesn’t require root. The paid version offers a graphical display of the CPU and memory usage.
This app gives you the ability to control your call minutes, number of SMS messages and data traffic. You can set limits for each, track your costs, and get much more information and statistics about them. I love the widgets, which show stats for your phone usage.
This app may not be of much use if you already have a carrier like T-Mobile or AT&T that provides official versions of usage tracking “My Account” apps. The actual numbers may not be accurate depending on your phone plan (free nights and weekends minutes or in-network minutes may be added to overall stats).
This app helps your phone to quickly “reboot” to free up memory. It does not require root and the paid version offer some advanced settings like auto reboot and ability to exclude apps. The idea behind this is instead of killing the process, it is omitted from running by doing a reboot. It is very quick and the results are dramatic in terms of battery consumption and phone performance.
This is a very handy tool to monitor your CPU usage. The best part is the graphical display of your usage timeline. But the free version has ads that consume CPU power so you really need to go pro for best performance. It might not work on all phone models so check out the free version before you pay for it.
This app measures data traffic consumed by your Wi-Fi and cellular interface. Download and upload throughput as well as ping durations can be measured via an integrated speed test. Traffic stats per application, history of data usage, tethering traffic (for mobile hotspot), geolocation based traffic stats, battery status and task killer make it a great app for taking control of your data usage.
Sensorly is a unique approach to data usage tracking; it detects cell tower identfication or BSSID, signal strength (RSSI), and so on. As the name suggests, it works for CDMA, GSM, Wi-Fi. It helps you to check your mobile service coverage and also compare with other carriers. It will work better as more people uses it and the coverage maps become more accurate.
This app is truly the ultimate Wi-Fi and signal finding tool. It supports GSM, CDMA, 4G, 3G, 2G. It detects signal direction, shows signal strength, displays map and radar views of cell towers and Wi-Fi routers, gives detailed signal strength data, and lets you save all this data to the SD card.
This is a really light weight app to monitor data usage and it runs very smoothly in the background without costing battery or CPU performance. You get detailed statistics with the All/Month/Week/Today setting. It can also track sms and call usage. It can monitor how much each app consumes data so you can manage data usage more efficiently. There is scope for improvement, like adding easy access to kill those data hogging apps instead of opening another task killer app.
This app keeps track of your mobile Internet usage. I recommend the Pro version mainly for features like advanced data usage prediction; seting your own billing rules (which is a must as each cellular carrier is different); seeing the usage history with graphs and options to export the data in CSV format (very useful for developers); and the backup and restore options. It can also track data usage per app (Android 2.2+, unavailable on Dell Streak). It is recommended not to uninstall the free version until you import the settings to pro version when you upgrade.
Advanced Task Killer started out as one of the pioneer apps for managing your apps when the native Android OS did not have these features. After Android 2.2 many of the functions have become redundant. The most recent version has been improved a lot and offers some extra features, like the ability to change “auto kill” to execute only when device is awake; an option to ignore service and front app for Android 2.2 and later version; and being compiled under the Android 3.1 platform so that it works for tablets too. However, as mentioned in the introduction, remember that we don’t want to kill all processes — especially system processes that need to run all the time for things like email sync and widgets on your home screen.
Android Assistant is one of the most powerful and comprehensive management tools to improve your phone’s performance. It speeds up your phone’s running speed and saves battery through its 15 top features including a monitor status (CPU, memory, battery), a process manager, and a cache cleaner. I find the startup manager very useful as it prevents useless apps from system startup, therefore improving the system running speed and saving more battery power. Other good features of this app include the aatch uninstall option and a handy widget that shows the number of processes that can be killed to save memory.
Watchdog is an alternative to Advanced Task Killer but takes a different approach to killing tasks. The primary goal is to watch your phone’s apps instead of killing them randomly. It helps you to monitor the activity of each app and make a blacklist that can be killed with just one click.
There are some really amazing things you can do when you have a rooted phone. Some examples are setting CPU clock speed and changing system settings. Quick Boot is one such very useful utility app for rooted phones. It can quickly and easily reboot your device, power off your device, or boot your device into recovery or bootloader mode. (Compare this to Fast Reboot discussed above which works for non-root phones as well.) Quick Boot helps you to significantly reduce system startup time and save memory. You can also create shortcuts on your home screen to reboot with one click. Note that this may not be needed, depending on what ROM you have installed in your rooted phone (CyanogenMod 7 includes a Reboot option in the Power Button menu).
SuperBox is a 10 tools in 1 app – a Swiss Army knife for Android. It includes a memory/CPU monitor, battery information, app installer, a cache cleaner, another task killer, a file manager/SDcard manager, app safeguard, and more. If you feel like you don’t need multiple apps in your phone just to control the system, then this kind of all-in-one app will be the right choice for you.
We have reviewed 35 apps currently available in the Market that help you to take control of your Android phone system settings and monitor phone usage statistics. Our list is diverse, ranging from Wi-Fi analyzers to all-in-one apps. I wish that we could cover every single app on this topic, but it’s impossible — I have revised this list three times since I started writing it as newer updates had to be included! My ultimate goal is to convince you the reader to start exploring some of these apps for enhancing your everyday Android experience. Let me know if you find some other great ones.