Software Development

Save battery life on your Android phone with Advanced Task Killer

Android users can fight against unnecessary battery drainage by installing Advanced Task Killer, an app that lets you manually kill running tasks, set up ignore lists, and more.

As much as I love the Android OS on mobile devices, the battery life leaves much to be desired. If tasks or applications get out of hand and start eating up memory or CPU cycles, you can kiss your battery goodbye. I have watched the battery meter on my phone go from full to 3/4 before my very eyes.

It seems that no matter how sparingly I use my networking, Bluetooth, GPS, etc., the battery still drains. This problem is so pervasive that I often see Android users carrying multiple chargers and multiple means of charging their mobile devices -- USB cables plugged into nearly every computer they own, car chargers, solar chargers... whatever it takes. It doesn't have to be this way.

One way to fight against unnecessary battery drainage is to use Advanced Task Killer, which allows you to manually kill running tasks, set up ignore lists, and much more. You can purchase the tool from the Android Market for $4.99 or get the free version. (Note: I won't walk you through the installation because it's a simple process. Be sure that you install Advanced Task Killer and not Task Manager.)

Configuration

Once Advanced Task Killer is installed, follow these steps to configure the application:

  1. Open your Applications menu and click the Advanced Task Killer icon.
  2. When the application is open, click the Menu button, and then click the Settings button.
  3. From the Settings window, you can configure the app to suit your needs. I highly recommend these settings because they seem to be the best for keeping rogue apps from eating away at the battery: Enable Auto Start, Enable Show Notification, Default click action: Select/Unselect, Default Long Press Action: Popup.

Functionality

Let's look at some functionality that will increase the chances of saving your battery.

The popup menu This is where you really get control of your applications. When you open Advanced Task Killer, you will see a list of running applications. If you long press one of those applications, a popup menu will appear that will allow you to select from the following:
  • Kill
  • Select/Unselect
  • Switch to
  • Ignore
  • Force Stop/Detail

From that list, if one of those apps is an app you want to make sure is not killed by Advanced Task Killer, you should select Ignore. Now when you kill running applications, that application will be exempt from the list.

Quick kill I tend to notice when my phone (HTC Hero) is having issues because it will start to get warm. When this happens, I have a quick fix. If you add the Advanced Task Killer to one of your home screens as a widget (not a shortcut), when you click that icon, it will kill all applications, freeing up memory and CPU cycles. It's the fastest way to keep your mobile device under control. (Make sure you do not add the application shortcut to the screen because this will only open the application.)

Give it a go

If you decide to download Advanced Task Killer, report back to let the TechRepublic community know if you get longer battery life.

Related resource: Read my four other tips for saving battery life on an Android phone.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
wabryant
wabryant

I have installed ATK on my HTC Evo and I have two issues: 1) Seems every time I kill apps, then check again, more apps are running that I haven't activated. I have it set to kill all apps when screen sleeps, but whenever I unlock the phone, apps are running.... 2) The battery seems worse now than before I installed the app. I've tried Safe Aggressive and Crazy kill levels and they all seem the same. I checked disable and the ATK still runs. I'm beginning to wonder if this app is safe. Can anybody help me with the configurations?

Blaszta
Blaszta

"..if your "techy" friend told you to download an task killer, please, ignore any advice from them in the future, you will regret it if you don't." Excerpt from this blog: http://www.droid-den.com/android-guides/android-guide-should-i-use-a-task-killer You should read it to understand how Android handle multiple tasks! And if you root your phone, here's the solution: http://www.droid-den.com/android-guides/android-guide-3-must-have-apps-when-rooted PS: I don't have any relation with that blog. I found the blog give me more understanding how Android works, and I agree with most of the content of the article.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

Android devs will tell you that the way tasks/apps are handled in 2.0 and on negates the need to a task killer. After running one on my Ally (2.1) for a month or two, I decided to see what happened without one. Truth is, if there's a difference in performance, I can't tell. If it seems like it's chugging under some load (rarely), I just restart it.

willy_uk
willy_uk

After seeing my battery charge vanishing at an alarming rate for the first week of having an android phone (HTC Desire with 2.1) I came across the whole task killer thing and gave it a shot. (Of course, I'd already changed the settings on various things like the email client so they didn't keep checking for updates every few minutes, which made a huge difference.) Having something to shut down the odd app here and there did seem to make a small difference to battery life (though it really was minimal compared with changing settings) but the reason I kept it was preventing sluggishness. To be honest it's lead me to think that the "way android handles tasks/apps" is great in theory but not quite right in the real world. I've never set up the task killer to auto-kill a single thing. I only ever use it manually (mainly because I couldn't summon the will to RTFM and learn how to use the thing properly so just left it as installed). It's really not all that uncommon to see the phone slowing down over a period of time and, after a few seconds in the task killer's interface, jump right back up to a decent speed. Restarting takes too long to be a serious contender, especially if you're mid-call and trying to get access to a web page, email or some such and the phone is running so slowly you can't do what you need. I can believe the performance difference may not be so much in general, but with no auto-kill set up and using it manually when you see things gradually slowing down and popping back to snappy performance again the usefulness of task killers becomes quite obvious.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

because it's a federal holiday in the US. Many people are out having fun on the "last holiday of summer", but they'll be back Tuesday. Interesting as it is, a Task Killer that will kill all tasks with one home screen icon seems a bit overkill...just as well reboot the phone. On my 4 yr old Samsung Blackjack I use the Task Manager that came with WinMo5 if I need to stop something. There were/are more advanced task managers from 3rd parties available, but I didn't see a need for them on that device. Most handy little 3rd party app on it to me is Vieka Wordpad.

miller.carl
miller.carl

I've used advanced task killer on my moto droid1 since april and I've enjoyed it. Even after my froyo upgrade it's worked well. Even comes with a home screen widget that you can just click on and it'll kill anything not in your ignore list.

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