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How to make Android faster, more productive and more secure than iPhone

By Jeff Vance, Network World
May 14, 2012 07:09 AM ET

Network World - IPhone users love to brag about their phones. They line up around the block and stand in line for hours when a new one is released. Yet, for many users, Android is clearly the superior platform. Yes, its Achilles' heel is a big one: security. Android's openness and large market share mean that it's a juicy target for attackers.

iOS vs. Android in the enterprise

Yet, Android's openness also provides serious benefits. It allows for more customization; its apps are usually cheaper and various handset manufacturers are able to offer significantly different form factors, such as the smartphone-tablet hybrid, the Samsung Galaxy Note.

With a little tweaking, you can speed up and optimize Android in ways that will make iPhone users' heads spin. Here are 10 ways to make Android faster, more productive and more secure than iPhone (watch the slideshow version):

Make your Android faster

1. Get a better browser.

One of the major benefits of using the popular browser Opera Mini is that its cloud engine compresses data by as much as 90%. It features tabbed browsing, support for widgets and the ability to set advanced privacy features, such as the ability to automatically clear passwords, cookies and browsing history.

The advantage for Android users: the ability to use Opera Mobile instead of Opera Mini. Opera Mobile supports Flash and 3D graphics, has an HTML 5 engine and has a device-side web rendering engine for higher fidelity browsing. You can set up the rendering engine to work locally when on a Wi-Fi network and default to the cloud-based rendering engine when on a 3G or 4G network to minimize expensive data usage (if you're not on an all-you-can-eat data plan). It also allows you to access your camera from your browser. Expect cool new widgets to start using this feature soon.

2. Install an Android optimizer.

Apps like Android Booster and Android Assistant give you the power to automatically kill apps that run in the background, gobbling up battery life and draining CPU. You can set a monthly data limit and monitor exactly how much data you've downloaded over 3G and 4G networks, and you can purge your cache, history, etc.

3. Conserve your battery.

Nothing slows you down more than a dead battery. One advantage Android phones have over iPhones is that you can swap out your battery. But proper power management can save you from that trouble. Apps like JuiceDefender and Battery Stretch help you regulate your power use.

With more than 7 million downloads, JuiceDefender is the most popular of these apps. It offers three different profiles: "Balanced," "Aggressive" or "Extreme."

The Balanced setting is the default and requires no configuration on your part. If you bump it up to "Aggressive," the app will automatically disable data connections when the battery is low. If you're really worried about a dead battery, the "Extreme" setting disables data connections by default. You can turn them back on manually, and you are able to whitelist apps that you want to have connectivity.

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