If you are wondering why your Google Nexus 7 Android Tablet has suddenly become super slow and unresponsive, it’s because of the recent update of the Android operating system (OS) to version 5.0, also known as Lollipop.
The problems may be resolved with later releases, but early Nexus 7 (2012) were low cost and although they had optimal performance when they were launched, it appears to be bogged down and rendered useless with the latest version of the OS.
The cause of the problem appears to be that the Nexus 7 processor is now underpowered and not able to handle too many background processes running at the same time with the Lollipop OS.
But don’t despair and cast off your Nexus 7 just yet, there are a few simple changes you can make to your device to speed up performance and bring it back to the snappy response you were accustomed to with earlier versions of the Android OS.
These are the changes we tried on a Nexus 7 that achieved a significant improvement in performance, almost bringing it back to the speed it had when it was new. If you are having similar difficulties with other Android tablets & phones after the Lollipop update, then you may find that these changes work on those devices too.
Turn off OK Google voice search
This feature of the Google Search app is constantly running in the background waiting for you to say “OK Google…”, you can select to listen from every screen or just within the Search App, but we would recommend turning it off completely.
The OK Google setting can be accessed by going to the Google Search App and swiping from the left to reveal the Options Menu and then select ‘Settings’ followed by ‘Voice’ and ‘OK Google detection’ where you will then be able to deactivate it.
Turn off tablet search
This adds the ability to include search results from your tablet as well as from the web. You can decide which Apps are indexed and included in the search results. We would recommend unticking all Apps to remove them from the search results.
The Tablet Search setting can be accessed by going to the Google Search App and swiping from the left to reveal the Options Menu and then select ‘Tablet Search’ to view the Apps selection list, where you can untick all the included Apps.
Turn off all non-essential notifications
Notifications are one of the most useful features of the Android OS, one ever present application which you can reveal by swiping down from the top of the screen to see what’s new in your most important Apps.
You may have activated notifications on many of the Apps you have downloaded, thinking that you will be relying on the App on a regular basis. Unfortunately much of what we download is rarely used beyond the initial interest, and before long you will have a unwieldy number of notifications competing for your attention.
Notification choices can be accessed within the settings menu of each individual App. We would suggest turning off notifications completely if you rarely use the App or don’t need immediate alerts.
Tip: Many of the services you use such as Facebook, Twitter, etc… allow you to send notifications via email. By setting up email notifications you can consolidate all your notifications into your email App without the need to activate notifications in each individual Android App on your Nexus 7. This will not only reduce the amount of background processes performed by your Nexus 7, but also will save on battery consumption. You can set-up email notifications by going into your profile settings within each account. You may find that the email notification settings are only accessible via the websites such as facebook.com or twitter.com.
Turn off all non-essential account auto-syncing
Another invaluable feature of Android is the ability to synch Apps across devices so that the content on each device is up to date. for example you can start to compose an email on one device and finish it off on another.
One way of syncing App data is to refresh the App manually, typically by touching the screen and pulling down on it will activate syncing, and a rotating refresh indicator will appear on the screen to signify progress with syncing.
The other method of syncing Apps is to set them up to sync automatically within the device ‘Settings’ under ‘Accounts’. Many Apps do not provide an interval that can be set to control when the App syncs data, so you are at the mercy of the baked in developer settings which may not be the most optimal for your Nexus 7. Also many Apps are set to auto-sync as a default when you install the App.
To turn off auto-sync for the Apps you do not use regularly, go to device ‘Settings’ then ‘Accounts’ and from there select the App or Account you wish to modify.
Remove all Apps you don’t use
There is an endless choice of Apps to download from the Google Play Store, but each Android device will vary in how many it can handle.
The Nexus 7 is a low cost device and subsequently has a minimal spec, so as Android increases in complexity, this device is going to struggle to maintain a high level of performance unless you constantly trim off the Apps you no longer need or the ones that consume too much memory.
Apps can be removed from your Nexus 7 in two ways, either by going directly to the App on the Google Play Store and pressing the Uninstall button, or by accessing the device settings, selecting ‘Apps’ and ‘Uninstall’ from there.
Clear all cached data
As you use your Apps, various files and resources are saved on your device to prevent them from being downloaded again in the future to improve App performance.
After a while the growing size of the cached data can be counterproductive when it starts to impact on device memory, especially if it belongs to a content gathering App such as a social network or a newspaper, where the cached updates & news articles can quickly pile up on your device.
You can easily delete the cache of all Apps by going to device settings selecting ‘Storage’ and then clicking on ‘Cached data’.
Do not turn on SmartLock
This is a new feature added to Android with the Lollipop release, SmartLock will remember your face using the front facing camera, and will unlock the device when your face is in view.
SmartLock appears to interfere with the device severely when trying to switch on the device from standby. The process of identifying your face seems to be too much for the Nexus 7 to handle, and often causes it to freeze up and crash.
Fortunately SmartLock has to be set-up and activated by the user, so for many of you it will not be a problem. However if you have activated SmartLock and forgotten where to turn it off, you can find it under device ‘Settings’ and then ‘Security’.
If you have experienced a major slowdown in performance of your Nexus 7, then we hope you found these tips brought it back from the brink. If you have found additional ways to improve the speed we would be very interested in hearing about them below.