Jan 23, 2019

What Is App Optimization?

If you own a smartphone or other mobile device, you know that every once in a while, the company that makes your operating system comes out with some upgrades, and you have to allow that software to update on your phone. For Android users, the operating system update is usually followed by a message that says "optimizing apps." Many users probably find themselves wondering what is app optimization and, as it turns out, there's a simple explanation for it.

Automatic Updates

Without your apps, having a smartphone is limited at best, so you want to have them working their best at all times. Android goes to great lengths to make sure this is happening by optimizing them after every system upgrade. That "optimizing apps" message is just there to tell you that it's working. When you see the message, it means that the device is making sure you have the very best versions of your apps so that they run smoothly on your smartphone and work well with the new features of the new version of the operating system. Think of it as a little extra quality assurance from Android.

How Does It Work?

If you're looking for a more technical explanation, you can think of each app on your phone as being like a .zip file on your computer. Your phone has a Dalvik cache that holds optimized versions of your apps. They're known as odex files. Every time you upgrade, the operating system generates a new odex file for each of your apps and stores it instead of storing the app as it appears on your phone. Optimizing them after each upgrade and reboot generally makes them open quicker and run smoother than they did before or would without the optimization process.

Increase Battery Power

If your phone or mobile device has Android version 6 or higher, you can change your app optimization settings to help preserve the life of your phone's battery. The exact set of instructions will vary by the brand of your device, but it should be easy to find if you start in the Apps, Applications, or Settings categories on most devices. Luckily, you don't have to be an Android developer to figure it out.

For example, if you have a post-Lollipop Galaxy device, you'll need to go to the Smart Manager and choose "App Optimization." Once there, you can choose from three settings: "Always Optimizing," "Automatically Optimizing," and "Disable For." Each selection will change the amount of battery power your apps use, even when you're not using the apps. You can also select how often you'd like for your apps to update: three, five, or seven days. Learn more about app optimization and everything else you need to know about Android basics by signing up to earn a Udacity nanodegree.