I noticed my Motorola Droid 2 has been acting rather sluggish lately. I figured, whenever a computer needs a performance boost, one of the most obvious ways is to upgrade or at least, manage memory, so why not on my phone? As I am not very familiar with native memory management on Adroid devices, I found a useful app for managing memory, the free ad-supported Auto Memory Manager (there’s also a premium version without ads). Without formally benchmarking my phone pre-and post-install of the app, it’s hard to determine how much it improves performance. In day-to-day use, my phone has less freezing and seems peppier since install. Once thing for sure, Auto Memory Manager provides me with good insight into how an Android device uses memory, and that alone makes it an attractive install.
How Auto Memory Manager Works
Auto Memory Manager works on rooted or unrooted phones. An app such as this is handy for those like me, who are trying to get more familair with Android memory settings. Yes, I can go into Settings–Applications–Running Services and see how much remaining RAM I have or see how much memory an app is using, but without a deep of the Android OS, it can be hard to get more memory details.
There’s also the Android SDK and the Dalvik Debug Monitoring tool (DDMS). With it, you can pull a memory usage chart but the chart only gives generic information such as percentage of memory free or inactive and not much else.
Auto Memory Manager allows you to speed up your phone without having to use task manager. It’s a 1.2MB-sized app and can be installed on Android devices running versions 1.5 or higher.
The app lets you set six memory thresholds to tweak performance:
Foreground Applications: Apps that you can currently see on screen. System and Phone are included in this group.
Visible Applications: Apps which are visible to the user but not running forefront.
Secondary Server: Apps and services running in the background. This group includes SenseUI and Launcher.
Hidden Applications: Apps that are not visible but are still running in the background.
Content Provider: Processes that provide content such as Contact and Calendar apps.
Empty Applications: Apps that are in standby and not doing any work.
You can set thresholds levels for a pre-defined group of applications. For instance, by setting the threshold level for the Empty Applications group to 40MB, if the phone’s available memory falls below 40MB then the system will kill empty applications to free up memory.
There are three threshold levels: Aggressive (the highest setting), Mild: (the average setting), and Default (whichkeeps you Android device’s original settings).
Auto Memory Manager’s default level is set so that Empty Applications are first to get killed when less than 40MB of memory is available. Foreground apps are given highest priority, only killed if there is less that 6MB of memory available. These settings are customizable.
There’s a “Preferences” setting for further customization. Users can allow the app to send a developer an email when an error occurs as well as allow the collection of data usage.
Auto Memory Manager also displays running processes and provides more details than the native ‘Running Services’ or when viewing cached services on my Droid. In Auto Memory Manager, you can see the Out of Memory priority (OOM) of each service. OOM is scaled from -16, the highest priority to +15, the lowest priority. Auto Memory manager also shows associated software running in each process. What’s really informative is that each process is grouped into one of the six threshold levels that the app uses, so you can set threshold levels depending on what services and processes are most important.
I had only one issue; a crash when viewing processes. I had to force the app to close.
It’s hard to gauge how much an app like this improves or doesn’t improve the way an Android phone runs, when only running it for a short time. I’ve had it running for a weekend. I tested how much better my phone performs with Auto Memory Manager than without it by firing up the usual apps I have running at once: Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Alarm Clock, Email and also a graphics-heavy time management game that I love called Stand O’ Food which takes a lot of memory resources. This game usually freezes and locks up with all the apps I typically have running. I got decent gameplay, with Auto Memory Manager running. The game still locked up on me, but only once. This can be attributed to the game’s code of course, but I did have less locking which would happen quite frequently.
This improvement leads me to surmise that Auto memory Manager provides some level of system performance gain. There’s a learning curve in that you would need to experiment with threshold levels to determine which configuration suits your phone’s needs best. What I really like about this app most, is that it gives users a good look into the way memory is used; for that alone it is worth four stars.