CleanMaster: The Scourge of 2015 Android Flagships

Clean Master App Icon

If you listen to the Android Central Podcast then you’ve probably heard the not very nice things that Phil Nickinson et al have to say about Clean Master (Speed Booster). No really, that’s the exact wording of the app’s name on the Play Store.

Clean Master is a product from a company called Cheetah Mobile, which I mention only because their entire website looks like a pop-up ad. Here’s what it purports to do:

Features of Clean Master- Phone Booster & Antivirus

Cool off your device by finding and stopping the apps that are causing it to overheat and make your battery last longer!

Delete cache and residual files to reclaim storage, boost speed and improve the performance of your device and SD card.

Boost your games and apps, free up memory (RAM), speed up your device and save more battery. Our 1 Tap Boost and Game Boost features make it easy to optimize directly from your homescreen.

Scan the system, pre-installed and user-installed apps to keep your device safe from viruses, trojans, vulnerabilities, adware and spyware. Keep your privacy safe by scrubbing personal info from your device.

Uninstall unwanted apps or bloatware and back up important ones. Some rooted devices will be able to move apps to the SD card as well as uninstall pre-installed and system apps. Our own Picks section lets you find useful apps that match your interests.

Um, how about no?

This, in a nutshell, is Windows maintenance thinking applied to a Linux-based system (Android). And as a Linux-based system, Android is pretty good at doing its own maintenance, garbage collection, etc. Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt from a piece on this same subject by MakeUseOf:

On Windows, you want to keep as much RAM available as you can so that programs have enough room to operate. When RAM fills up, Windows is forced to start using hard drive space as virtual RAM and hard drives are much slower than physical RAM.

This is not true for Android.

Android’s operating system has its own native handler for assigning RAM to apps and making sure that all of it is being used in the most optimal way. In fact, Android purposely tries to keep apps loaded into RAM for better performance. RAM is fast, remember? On mobile devices, every bit of speed is critical for a good user experience, so keeping apps in RAM is actually a good thing.

Ditto for the cache partition of your Android device. While clearing it from time to time may be a necessity on hardware with scant storage, in the vast majority of cases you just don’t have to worry about it.

And yet, Clean Master makes further promises: “simple to use, super-fast and smooth UI, plus cool transition effects”. This from an app that’s supposed to optimize your phone’s performance?

Now for the really bad news… According to Android Central, Cheetah Mobile has struck deals with both HTC and Samsung to preload Clean Master on the M9 and Galaxy S6. To hear more, check out the following episodes below: