I've seen it before with a number of devices; Android tablets starting to bog down to the point of not being responsive at all. What do you do? Is it time to reset that tablet to factory defaults? Probably not. Instead of scrapping the current state of your tablet, try these four quick tips to regain control of your wayward Android tablet.
Since every Android tablet is not created equally, some of these tips will either not work or their steps might vary. I'll be demonstrating on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note with Android version 4.1.2. Let's begin with the most obvious tip and work our way down.
Sometimes, a restart is the fastest means of getting your tablet resources back. Of course, this is also (depending upon your device) the slowest method. Plus, if you're in the middle of working on a file or cloud resource, you could lose your work. However, if it's the only route to success, it must be done.
To restart your tablet, follow these steps:
- Press and hold the power button
- When prompted, tap Restart
- Tap OK when prompted
- Allow the device to restart
I would never say this is the best method of getting your resources back — or controlling a wayward application. For that, I would use the built-in task manager. Let's now work through using that tool to manage your running tasks.
2. Task manager
Although you might not be currently using an app, said application could still be residing in your tablet's memory. Fortunately, task managers are always at the ready to help you close apps that currently reside in memory. Android has a very handy built-in Task manager that's quick to access and easy to use. It also attempts to close applications that haven't been used in a while. Most of the time, it does a good job — but sometimes, an application will prove too stubborn for the Task manager to close. When that happens, it's time to go manual mode on that rogue app.
To access the Task manager, tap the multi-task button on the device panel (third from the left on Samsung Galaxy tablets). From the running app list, you can tap Close all (to close all running applications) or Task manager (to open the task manager tool).
Once you have the Task manager open (Figure A), you can tap End all (to close all running applications) or the End button associated with a particular application.
The Task manager on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note tablet.
Be aware that the more applications you have in memory, the less memory will be available — at least until either the Task manager starts closing some apps or you do it manually.
If the built-in Task manager doesn't seem to be catching rogue apps, there's a third-party application that does a great job of doing just that. The application is called Watchdog. This application monitors running apps so you can easily see if any have gotten out of hand and are eating up your CPU. There is a free version called Watchdog Task Manager Lite and a full version that costs $3.49 (USD) called Watchdog Task Manager. The paid app removes advertisements and includes a blacklist, which allows you to choose an app, assign a CPU threshold to it, and have Watchdog automatically kill the app should it exceed the set threshold.
The free version gives you quick access to what apps are using the CPU (and how much of the CPU they are using, as shown in Figure B).
The Watchdog CPU listing shows a pretty smoothly running system.
What isn't obvious about Watchdog is that from the CPU listing, you can kill, Whitelist, or launch an application. To do that, tap on the app listing and slide it to the right. A new popup will appear (Figure C) that allows you to take those actions.
How to act on a running application in Watchdog.
The Watchdog Alerts tab will show any application that is misbehaving. If anything pops up in this window, be sure to kill it (from the CPU tab).
4. Read reviews
Finally, I would like to say this: The Google Play Store doesn't have the Big Brother-like vetting system that the Apple App Store enjoys. Because of this, questionable apps can make their way into the Play Store — and then onto your device. Make sure you read reviews of apps before you install them. Many times, when an app is questionable, it will be mentioned by at least one reviewer. If you see mention of malware in a review, avoid that app completely.
The Android platform makes for a smooth running tablet experience. There are times, however, when you'll need to know what to do should an app go rogue. Whether you use the built-in Task manager, a third-party tool, or simply reboot your device, it's pretty easy to get control of your apps and speed up the processing power of your Android tablet.
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.