Do we really need smarter smartphones

Clean up the smartphoneCleaner Apps promise much, help but Rare

It sounds tempting: a faster smartphone and more storage space. But most of the so-called "cleaner apps" don't keep their promises, says our reporter Nico Rau.

Cleaner apps are popular. Millions of times over, users download them from the app stores. The concept of apps: They clear the cache, i.e. the temporary working memory, and the working memory (random access memory, or RAM for short). In addition, the creators promise to improve the smartphone's performance by deleting hidden junk data that should be left over when we uninstall apps. And the download folder should also be able to be deleted with the apps.

"There are thousands of such apps in the app stores, they are well received by users and are downloaded millions of times."
Nico Rau, Deutschlandfunk Nova

But our reporter Nico Rau says: Cleaner apps are usually completely nonsensical. The apps often deleted files that were running in the background but might be needed by another app.

Files that are in the cache are not superfluous

Apps store files that they have downloaded in cache, the temporary memory. These files are temporarily stored there because it is information that the app needs again and again - and therefore quick access makes sense.

These can be profile pictures of friends on Whatsapp, YouTube videos or log-in data. If the data is in the cache, the smartphone does not have to download this information from the network every time. This saves the data volume and the battery life.

If the RAM is cleared, the app has to restart completely

Our reporter Nico Rau says that many cleaner apps also wanted us to believe that 80 percent of the working memory, i.e. the RAM, is already used and that this would allegedly make our smartphones slower. The cleaner apps therefore recommend emptying the RAM to get the smartphone going again. The problem with this is that we have to completely restart the apps when the RAM is cleared. That costs a lot of time and battery power - so it is not recommended.

Smart memory management automatically deletes apps from memory

We shouldn't simply delete apps that are running in the background either. The Android or iOS operating systems have intelligent memory management that automatically removes the apps from the memory if we have not used them for a longer period of time. This creates space for data.

If you want to free up space, you have to delete pictures and other files

If you really want to free up space on your smartphone, you have to - as difficult as it may be for us - delete apps, pictures, videos and files. Or chats in the various messengers.

It can also be useful to delete the entire download folder. This is relatively easy with Android smartphones: Simply click on the "My Documents" app and delete the download folder that we find there. In this way, up to 100 megabytes of space can be freed up.

Free apps often collect personal data

And one more tip: do not approach the cleaner apps completely inexperienced. Some of them are free. However, a study by the European Center for Economic Research in Mannheim has shown that free apps often collect a comparatively large amount of user data from our smartphones. In general, when installing such apps, we should pay close attention to which permissions the respective app requires and what it wants to access on our mobile phone.

Access to location and contacts

It is necessary that cleaner apps want to access our files, analyze them and then delete them. Some of the cleaner apps also want to access our contacts and locate our location, says our reporter Nico Rau. This is information that a cleaner app does not need to clean up the smartphone.