10 ways to make Android faster, more productive, and more secure than the iPhone

Android's openness and large market share make it a target for attackers, but with a little tweaking, you can speed up, optimize, and secure the mobile OS

iPhone users love to brag about their smartphones. 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.

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.

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iOS vs. Android in the enterprise

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:

Make your Android smartphone 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 percent. 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 HTML5 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 the CPU. (On an iPhone, you have to manually kill apps you think may be sapping battery and CPU power.) 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 some Android smartphones 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 profiles: Balanced, Aggressive, and 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 can whitelist apps that you want to have connectivity.

Make your Android smartphone more productive
4. Dig deeper into which apps hog data.
If you constantly go over your data limits, an app like Android Assistant may not be enough. Sure, you will be alerted when you are nearing your limit, but what exactly is causing the problem?

Is it Facebook, podcasting software, the MLB Gameday app? Who knows?

Well, with Onavo you can find out. The main menu displays statistics on your data use over the prior month, and it fingers the apps hogging the most bandwidth. Many of these are obvious, such as any video or streaming app, but I was surprised to see how much data Google Calendar used with its constant synching and so, after consulting with Onavo, I decided to sync less frequently

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