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Android Application Battle: Advanced App Killer vs. Task Manager

I suspect every Android users has, at least once, downloaded the Advanced App Killer. I suspect in an effort to free up RAM and to have more free operational memory allowing the device to run smoother, the idea of the Advanced App Killer appeals to many users. With over 50 million downloads, the Advanced App Killer ranks among the most downloaded applications currently available in the Google Play Store.

Popularity aside, a question needs to be asked: does the Advanced App Killer actually work? When compared to the internal task manager installed in every Android device, is the Advanced App Killer a more efficient avenue to free up memory and RAM?

Is the Advanced App Killer when compared to every Android Task Manager, worth downloading?

Android Task Manager

I have been an Android device user for the better part of six years. Over the course of those six years and multiple devices - smartphones and tablets - I have always downloaded some version of the Advanced Task Killer; typically it served as my first download. Call me crazy but I figured to ensure my new device runs smoothly, my first download should be a utility which frees up RAM and memory.

Yet, after every download and install of the Advanced App Killer, I began to wonder:

  1. Does Advanced App Killer spend more time running in the background eating up the memory it claimed to keep in control?

  2. Doe Advanced App Killer continually kill applications running in the background which I might want to keep open?

  3. Does Advanced App Killer actually perform the task it set out to accomplish? Does the utility actually kill running applications effectively freeing up RAM and memory?

To get a better understanding of how we can answers the aforementioned questions, we first need to explain how RAM functions within the Android environment.

RAM and Android Devices

If you're coming from a Windows background, you have been conditioned to understand the less RAM or free memory your system has, the slower that system will run. The logic is pretty simple: more open applications equal more RAM usage equaling less RAM for critical background processes to run on. Thus, the larger amount of applications you have running in a Windows environment, the slower that system is going to run. Solution: free up RAM by closing processes and programs. This can be done by accessing the Task Manager.

While this logic makes sense in a Windows environment, it doesn't make sense in an Android environment. Why? The answer is RAM functions differently in an Android environment. Within an Android environment, RAM is used to recall applications in a timely manner. For instance, if you are scrolling through Instagram when you receive a phone call, you either close the application or answer the call. Either way, Instagram stays running in the background operating off a fraction of RAM it normally uses so when you reopen the app after the call ends, it opens in a quick and timely manner. This is to say, using more RAM in an Android environment is a good thing, not a detriment.

Yet, if having more applications utilizing RAM in an Android environment is a good thing, how do you facilitate smoother running computing environments? The answer is understanding Android CPU usage and killing individual applications - a needle as opposed to a hacksaw.

Android CPU Usage

The Advanced App Killer works by killing - or trying to kill - apps eating into overall environment RAM. The only issue at hand here is this logic is more tied to Windows than Android computing environments. Within an Android environment, it's CPU which matters. As noted by Lifehacker "in reality, your CPU — which is only used by apps that are actually active" causes your system to slow down, to "bottleneck." Instead of operating by shutting down active applications which are using decent amounts of RAM, the Advanced Task Killer would be better off if it attacked applications using large quantities of CPU. The more CPU cycles an Android based application uses, the more it slows down the system and impacts core processor performance. Not only do higher CPU cycle applications slow down active applications they also slows down critical background applications needed to keep your system running smoothly thus harshly draining your battery and overall compute performance.

So, what is to be done? Instead of making use of a hacksaw like RAM killing application which aims to continually close RAM intensive apps without regard to overall system impact, it would be smarter to make use of the internal Android Task Manager to kill individual apps. A needle is needed.

Killing Specific CPU Intensive Applications

Android Task Manager

The first time I used the Android Task Killer (factory installed in every Android device), I had the immediate sensation of full control. While the Advanced App Killer kills - or tries to kill - all apps without regard to their function, the internal Android Task Killer allows users to kill specific applications through more granular deletions. Not only does using the Android Task Killer give users the power, it also allows the user to determine which apps are most important to their daily activities through keeping those apps up and running.

Side Note: Next time you utilize the Advanced App Killer make note of the applications which continue to reopen and function after "killing them." The dirty secret of the app is that it doesn't - as suggested - wholly kill applications. Rather it limits RAM use of certain applications by continually killing them or by stopping their ability to function in the background.

As previously mentioned, killing applications based on RAM use in an Android environment makes no sense and, over the long haul, can prove hurtful to your system. It is much smarter to operate by killing CPU intensive applications. To do that, either download any number of Android CPU monitors or simply uninstall an application from your environment and review the results. If the system runs smoother, you have a fix.

It should be mentioned this is an issue which is hotly debated in many Android forums. Some users err on the side of not using the Advanced App Killer due to the aforementioned information and some users swear by it. The choice is yours but before you make the choice, do your research.

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