If I give her any more she'll blow, cap'n!

“If I give her any more she’ll blow, cap’n!” — Montgomery Scott

Okay, maybe we don’t want to go quite that fast, but eeking our every last bit of speed from your Android-powered phone or tablet will save you time, frustration, and possibly even embarrassment.

The primary speed enhancing method that may come to mind is over-clocking. It’s sort of like blood-doping  in the Olympics. (It’s your own blood, so it’s okay, right?) If you don’t know already, overclocking is the practice of running your processor (CPU, GPU, or both) faster than it was designed to. Doing so usually eats your battery faster, runs your device hotter than you’d like, and will probably void your warranty. You’ve probably also got to have root permissions to do it. We won’t go into much more detail than that, but I do it, and it helps out a little bit.

Other than hacking your phone, what other ways can you to right now to make your Android go just a little bit faster?

1. Optimize Your Homescreen

optimize your homescreenTry this experiment: write down what you do most on your phone or tablet. Don’t rush it. Just make note of how and why you use your device for an entire day.

Do you check the date and time? How about the weather? Are you interested in the forecast? Maybe up-to-date stock quotes are more your style.

Next, figure out which apps you fire up the most — write those down, too.

Now that you’ve got your list all compiled, clear your homescreens — all of them, entirely empty. You’re staring with a clean slate. Now drop a widget on the top of your homescreen, it should be the one you use most of the time. Next, drop a widget on the top of the screen to the left and another on the screen to the right of your primary homescreen. These should be your three most frequently used widgets (weather, stocks, etc.). You don’t have to even open those apps to get the information, just turn on your device and glance (or swipe and glance). FAST!

Next, start dropping your most frequently used apps onto your homescreens. Organize them into folders so you don’t run out of room. Your objective here is to try to avoid having to open your app drawer at all in day to day use. Not only will this save you the half-second needed to open the drawer itself, it will save countless seconds while you hunt for the app you’re looking for.

This arrangement isn’t set in stone. Maybe you’d rather have two (or three or four) widgets on your main screen, and put apps on the flanking screens. As you use your device, move things around. Experiment, and do what works best for you.

2. Use Your Voice

Android Voice SearchVoice commands may be one of the most under-utilized features of Android. With them you can easily draft an email, set an alarm, send a text message… all kinds of stuff! With Android 4.1 Jelly Bean this gets even more useful with being able to ask what the weather is like, when that movie is going to start, and so much more!

Hit the microphone button and just talk. Start using it. You’ll be amazed at what Android can do with your voice, and the speed at which you can get common tasks done!

3. Turn on Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi

We recently talked about Wi-Fi versus cellular data. The general consensus was that most Wi-Fi is significantly faster than 3G, but probably not as fast as LTE. If you’re still on 3G (or in an area where LTE isn’t available), turn on Wi-Fi and take advantage of the faster speeds a Wi-Fi hot-spot can offer.

Web surfing will be faster. Streaming will be less jumpy. Background tasks like getting your email or social updates will be quicker, too.

If you’re worried about battery life, turn Wi-Fi off again when you leave “the bubble”. You can even get an app to do it for you, or wire the Wi-Fi switch up to an NFC tag.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

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