The Android world has changed a lot since 2012, but that was the last time we wrote about the best Android cleaning apps. Five years is an eternity in the tech world: Some of the apps we originally covered have been abandoned, while others have given way to better products.
Android doesn't look like it did in 2012, and neither does this list of five apps that can keep it running like it's brand new.
1. Norton Clean
Symantec's Norton seems to engender strong feelings: People either think it's a good antivirus product or they hate it. Put prejudice aside for a moment when looking at Norton Clean: It's a simple, tidy app that makes life easier for Android owners.
Power users won't need Norton Clean, at least not if they're willing to go through the Android file browser and clear out old cached files and APKs, because that's really all Norton Clean does (aside from giving you info on installed applications).
I'm not belittling its capabilities at all—Norton Clean does a great job at detecting and eliminating old files that are gumming up your smartphone. It's free and it's worth checking out.
2. SD Maid
At its surface SD Maid is designed to do the same thing as Norton Clean, but it's nowhere near as simplistic. This app cleans with gusto unseen in other apps. It scans both the internal storage and SD card for files left behind when apps are uninstalled, it looks for duplicate files, analyzes databases on your device, locates pieces of your system that could use cleaning up, and more.
SD Maid is essentially the power user version of Norton Clean. If you want more than a one-tap clean, SD Maid is for you.
3. App Tune-up Kit
Released by Qualcomm, App Tune-up Kit is the app you need if you're trying to pinpoint performance problems. Sometimes an app eats up far more resources than it should, and App Tune-up Kit will find it.
When you use App Tune-up Kit it runs invisibly behind the app you're testing. After one minute it pops back up and gives you the results of its scan, and they're detailed. Almost everything you want to know about the suspect app's effect on your system is displayed on the screen, and it also allows you to compare its performance to top apps in different categories.
This is a great way to find out what may be eating up your battery and RAM, and it's also great for developers who want to know how their apps will perform on different devices.
One of the biggest problems for smartphones—both Android and iOS—is background services chewing through battery capacity and device performance. The more apps you install and leave running in the background the worse your device will perform. We've all experienced it, and while Android is getting better at freezing apps that aren't performing necessary functions, problems still exist.
Greenify wants to solve that problem by putting apps into hibernation mode when your device isn't in use. It won't just put your apps to sleep, though: Greenify gives you a full list of what's running and what may be causing issues and then gives you the choice to add it to its hibernation list.
My Galaxy S7 doesn't have any performance issues so I can't truly speak to Greenify's capabilities. Reviews on Google Play are very favorable though, and the app's ease of use (aside from the setup) makes me comfortable recommending it.
5. History Eraser
History Eraser is the only app from our 2012 list to return, but with one important distinction: The Pro version that we profiled in 2012 hasn't been updated since 2014, while the free version has been updated in the past month. That said, this review is for History Eraser, not History Eraser Pro.
The purpose of History Eraser is pretty obvious: It gets rid of any personal history files on your device. SMS messages, calls, web browsers, and searches inside of apps like Google Play and YouTube are all covered. You can choose what to delete, tap Clean, and be comfortable that your personal data is secure and old cache files are deleted, potentially speeding up your device.
What are your favorites?
Do you have a go-to favorite for cleaning your Android device? Let us—and your fellow readers—know in the comments below!
- Android Security Bulletin January 2017: What you need to know (TechRepublic)
- Android vs iOS: Which is best for business? (ZDNet)
- Why haven't we seen the smartphone security apocalypse in iPhone and Android yet? (TechRepublic)
- For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now (ZDNet)
- Beware: These Android apps will drain your phone's battery (CBS News)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.