I’ve talked before about how to disable animation in Cyanogenmod 10.x, but I’ve done a few other things to conserve some scarce system resources on my gigahertz-ish, half-gig Nook Color. If you’re running Cyanogenmod on a phone that’s a couple of years old, these tricks can help you too. Here are some tricks to speed up Android.
Disable location tracking
This feature is controversial anyway, so some people disable it for privacy reasons. Whatever your stance on privacy may be, constantly monitoring for wifi networks and reporting them back to Google drains your battery and takes up CPU cycles. To disable it, go into Settings, scroll to “Personal,” tap “Location Access,” then switch the setting labeled “Access to my location” to “off.” This is something many people will want to do anyway. The biggest drawback to doing this is that the News & Weather app no longer reports local weather; to fix that, open News & Weather, tap the settings icon in the upper right hand corner underneath the clock, tap “Settings,” then “Weather settings,” and tap “Set location.” Now you can enter your zip code or city.
If you travel a lot with your tablet, you’ll have to change this when you arrive in a new city, which isn’t all that difficult to remember. If I were in Baltimore and saw St. Louis weather, I would know to go and change it. Then I would change it back after I arrived in St. Louis and saw Baltimore conditions the first time.
Then again, when I’m traveling, I’m more likely to take my faster tablet anyway.
Disable the date/time/weather widget
To do this, tap and hold the date and time on the homescreen, then wait for an “x” to appear in one of the corners. Drag the widget to the “x” to delete it. All of this information still appears on the lockscreen, and the time appears in one corner of the screen all the time, so I can live without having it on the desktop.
Turn off the wallpaper
Cyanogenmod makes this easy. Tap on an empty spot on your home screen and hold it until a window pops up titled “Choose wallpaper from.” Select “No wallpaper,” and you’re done. This saves memory and gives the CPU fewer things to redraw.
This decreases the quality of some graphics, but the improvement in performance is noticeable. To do this, go into Settings, tap “Performance,” tap OK at the prompt, then select “Surface improvement.” Tap “Disable dithering,” then tap “OK.”
Use 16-bit transparency
This too decreases graphics quality, but I find the performance improvement is worth it. Again, go into Settings, tap “Performance,” tap OK at the prompt, then select”16bit transparency.” Reboot the tablet for the change to take effect.
Turning off all of this eye candy makes the tablet look less flashy, but I’d rather reduce the tablet back to basics and extend its useful life.
Use the built-in Android browser
The browser built into Android is much more plain-jane than newer browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, or Dolphin Browser. But on low-end devices, it’s a lot faster, since it uses the browsing engine built into the operating system that all of the other apps rely on.
Many apps, such as News & Weather, launch a browser after you tap on an item in them. There’s no straightforward way to change the default browser in News & Weather back to the built-in browser if you’ve set it to use one of the glitzier browsers. Go to Settings, select “Apps,” then tap the settings icon under the clock. Tap “Reset app preferences.” Now go back into News & Weather, tap on a story, and you’ll get a prompt asking which browser to use. Select the generic “Browser,” then tap “Always.” Now stories from Google News will load with the faster built-in browser.
If you have a low-end or aging Android device, these tips will help make it a bit more responsive and, hopefully, more enjoyable to use.