Strategies For A Slow Device
Regular readers may know that I use a 2013-vintage, Sony Xperia Z Tablet as my productivity device. I do most of my writing and editing on this tablet. The Xperia Z Tablet is reasonably smooth but it can hesitate, especially when working with heavyweight applications (looking at Google Chrome here). This phenomena is also true of older, mid-range or lower end smartphones too, where sometimes switching between applications causes lags and delays.
There are three main kinds of Android device bottlenecks. The effect is that if one component runs slowly, everything else can only run at the same speed. The three main types are a network bottleneck, caused by a slow internet connection. Processor bottlenecks are caused by your device’s processor (or chipset) being too slow and a memory bottleneck is caused by the operating system running low on memory and needing to shuffle data around. Processor and memory bottlenecks are closely related.
Let’s look at ways we can reduce the demands placed on our device with a view to keeping things running smoothly.
Closing running applications
Google’s Android has included an task switcher view since Android 3.0 Honeycomb, although it was popularised with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Depending on the device, tapping this button brings up a list of recently used applications, where they may be swiped to the side in order to close. Some devices include the ability to close all running applications as a shortcut, including the Sony – showing below.
Unfortunately, swiping applications away does not always close them as some will maintain a connection to the Internet for notification purposes. Apps such as social networking, instant messenger and email applications do this. Fortunately, Android is efficient at handling these types of connected applications, but even in their reduced state they still place some demands on the operating system. Some applications are badly written and consume computing resources, slowing down your device. Google is clamping down on these badly behaving applications, but you can swipe them away to close as well.
Closing unnecessary browser tabs
Google switched to using the Chrome web browser as the stock Android browser some years ago, and over this time, Chrome has been dramatically improved and refined. Even so, the Google Chrome browser is still one of the greediest non-gaming applications that you can run on your Android device. Each open tab has its own processor thread and memory allocation. Close any open tabs in Chrome that you do not need frees up processor time and memory.
Use a 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi network rather than 2.4 GHz
This tip can help solve network bottlenecks caused by a slow Wi-Fi connection, rather than a slow broadband connection. Many devices offer a dual band Wi-Fi radio, supporting 802.11 Wi-Fi at both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz frequencies. The 2.4 GHz frequency is shared between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and almost all Wi-Fi routers operate at this frequency. The more Wi-Fi hotspots your device can see, the greater the congestion and the slower your transfer speed. The 5.0 GHz frequency is usually much cleaner, partially because 5.0 GHz signals cannot travel as far. Switching to a 5.0 GHz frequency if you can should reduce Wi-Fi delays.
This topic deserves its own article, but the idea here is that connected applications are demanding of your smartphone, so uninstalling them and relying on the Chrome browser can reduce the demand on your device. You don’t necessarily have to go without notifications, either, as the Chrome browser supports push notifications these days.
When waiting for my device to switch application or load a document, I have been known to take a sip of coffee. Your mileage may vary!