Mobile phones and tablets slow down over time and they become increasingly sluggish as they grow older. The Google Nexus 7 with Android 5.0 Lollipop is a particularly bad example and a recent one, but it happens to all devices eventually. Sooner or later They just slow to a crawl. Can they be fixed? Yes!
Anyone that has an old phone or tablet will be familiar with the problem. The menus become slow to navigate, starting apps and switching between them takes a long time and the screen becomes unresponsive to touch and refreshes slowly. There is nothing worse than staring at the screen waiting for something to happen. This makes old devices frustrating to use after a time.
So what is the cause of the problem? There are many and one is operating system updates and newer versions of an OS always seem to run more slowly than the previous one. This is because they always grow and become more complex. As extra features and functions are added to the operating system, the device requires an increasing amount of processing power and memory. The cleverer devices become, the greater the hardware requirements.
iPhone users are well aware of this problem and some people even go so far as to think that it is a conspiracy theory, with Apple deliberately slowing down old phones when new ones are launched.
Android users also experience the same problems on phones and tablets and the Android 5.0 Lollipop update is causing a few problems for some people, especially those with the original Google Nexus 7. This old tablet (two years is a long time in technology), is struggling to run run and many users have taken to forums to complain about Android 5's performance, or lack of it.
So what is causing the slowdown and what can we do about it? There isn’t one single cause and it is a combination of factors. In this article I want to highlight just one cause and it could be the major one. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Disable unnecessary notifications
I am not an Android developer, so I don’t know how notifications work, but I have noticed that notifications have an impact on the memory and performance of my devices. I presume that in order for an app to check for a new event and to display a notification if one is found, the app, or at least part of it, must run. Notifications do not magically appear on their own and code must be run to access the internet, check for events, messages and so on, and then display them on the screen.
A notification might be for a new email, an instant message from someone, a breaking news story, an update to a website, service or app, and so on.
The problem is that every app has notifications turned on by default in Android and this means that the device is constantly running this or that bit of code so that apps can check for and display notifications. Some people have 50 or even 100 apps on their phone or tablet if you include the base Android apps and extra apps bundled by the manufacturer.
Android has to constantly service notifications for all those apps and this means processing power and memory are being used to run the code. Stop notifications and the device has more memory and less work to do. The result is a faster and smoother running device. It will probably extend the life of the battery too.
Go to Settings on your Android phone or tablet. The quickest way to do this is to pull down from the top of the screen and tap the gear icon.
Menus vary slightly on different Android devices and versions, so on the Google Nexus 7 tap Apps, but on the Samsung Galaxy S4 tap More and then Application Manager.
This displays a list of apps that are installed on the device, including Android system apps and those you have downloaded yourself. Tap each app in turn and in the top right corner there is a Show notifications tick box. Clear the tick.
Some notifications are essential and you want to know when calendar events occur, when emails arrive and when people send you messages. With each app on the device, decide whether the notifications it displays are really important to you and if you think you can live without them, turn it off.
Flipboard, shown in the screen shot above is a good example. I like Flipboard and it is a great app, but do I need to see notifications? Not really. Clear the tick and take a look at the next app.
If you can clear all notifications except for the essential ones, you will find that there is more memory and the phone or tablet is more responsive. Afterwards, tap the app switcher button and swipe away the apps in the background.
On a Samsung Galaxy phone for example, you can also hold down the home button, swipe away the apps, press it again, tap the pie chart, select RAM and clear the memory.
This is not the only cause of slow Android devices and you should also look at the apps installed and amount of storage space left. However, it certainly helps and both my Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy S4 are better for having fewer notifications.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 21 November 2014