Friday, June 29, 2012

Battery Saving Tips for Android

Hypermiling is driving your vehicle a certain way to maximize fuel efficiency.  Since we have no official term for what we want to do, let's call it hyperandroiding, at least until someone seriously objects to it.  What we want to do is maximize the time between charging the beasties.

I'm going to list a bunch of tips to extend battery life - choose what you like best.  People who like blinky lights and iDevices are not going to like these ideas for the most part.

I own an HTC Sensation and a Samsung Galaxy 10 tablet.  Your mileage may vary but this is applicable to most Android devices.  RUN A BACKUP BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE!

Wallpaper: no live wallpaper.  No wallpaper at all is better.  There are a few apps in the market called No Wallpaper, which set the background to black.  This uses much less juice.

WiFi: kill it.  On my device, this is the biggest battery-sucker.

Bluetooth:  shut it down by default.  If you need it, start it with a widget or shortcut.

GPS: Need you ask?  Kill it.

Location Services:  There is no good reason for this to be enabled.  You are asked when setting up the phone if you'd like to use it and should have said NO then.  This is merely a tracking device.

Launcher:  Your phone came with whatever launcher your carrier included.  These tend to suck up power like mad.  The most efficient launcher I have used is Zeam.  It just works - nothing fancy.  The more blinky lights, transitions, and live wallpaper you add, the less battery life you'll have.  That is all.

Social Apps:  Since there are no anti-social apps, I have nothing running.  Every social app you have probably runs in the background, sucking up valuable juice.

Email:  The magic phrase here is MANUAL email.  Most phones are set up for push email, which the phone winds up doing all day, every day.  Do you really need the latest piece of spam available the moment it hits your inbox?  Set email to manual so when you open the email app, it goes out to retrieve the mail.  This has the added benefit of not bothering you every fifteen seconds.

Instant Messaging:  do you think this doesn't use any battery?

How can Android help me?  Your carrier may have included some features to minimize battery use.  Android Assistant has these.   You can allow the phone to control screen brightness, keep brightness low, keep ringers and music low.  Android Assistant also has a startup app killer, which will shut down certain programs and services, should they start up with the phone.

There are a few apps devoted to this.  My favorite is Timeriffic.  I set my phone to shut down while I sleep and activate when I get up, saving lots of battery time.

The latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, has a very interesting and valuable feature.  It allows you to shut down and disable the majority of apps.  Since carriers bundle all kinds of garbage with phones and won't let you uninstall (without rooting), this is the next best thing.  Go to APPLICATIONS and click on one of the buggers you don't want running (my first stop was Faceyspaces).  CLEAR it, STOP it, then DISABLE it.  Poof - it won't start again.

WARNING:  Android has given you the weapons and ammunition to shoot yourself repeatedly in the foot, if not elsewhere.  You can essentially brick your phone or otherwise render it unusable.  How do I know this?  I disabled the wrong function and couldn't use the phone without a factory reset.  This brings up another very important topic: backups.  You should do them.

Backups can be accomplished automatically and for free.  There's a very good program called My Backup (available free and paid) that will do routine backups by itself.  Another efficient solution is one of my favorite programs: Android Assistant.  This program has a whole bunch of useful apps contained inside, one of which will allow you to back up individual or multiple apps.  It also allows you to transfer apps to your SD card.  This saves space and allows you access to your data even after a factory reset.  How do you think I got my phone back up to new after my reset?  RUN A BACKUP BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE!

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