Although Android has become significantly more efficient at managing memory over the years, it remains a valuable commodity on the Android device. Unlike a desktop operating system, Android does not offer swap space for memory nor does it used paging files or memory mapping technology to help map memory. Essentially, what you see is what you have. Some of the technologies that Android employs to maximize memory include sharing RAM pages across processes, which avoids the device needing to load the same library multiple times. Another technology used is to clean up memory once a task or application has completed and it is here that a new version of Android can behave a little less optimized than hoped for. When Android 5.0 Lollipop was introduced, users reported issues with device performance struggling after a number of hours since the last reboot. This was caused by poor memory management. Essentially, the operating system was running low on memory and the poor performance was related to the operating system needing to claw back RAM from processes that are no longer running. Google have worked to resolve these performance and memory issues and the current version of Android, 5.1.1 Lollipop, is significantly better than earlier versions of Android Lollipop.
Google must be keen to avoid the same issues with the new version of Android, currently simply called Android M. Those users who have downloaded the preview of Android M are also interested in making sure the operating system runs well. The second preview of Android M was released earlier today and a number of different features are being explored. My story today concerns how Android M reports on memory management and the improvements that Google has implemented. In the original Android M preview, Google included a memory management setting buried inside the Apps section of Settings: the route to this is into Settings, then Apps. From here select Advanced and finally pick Memory. This option gives the user the ability to see how much RAM is remaining for the system and how individual applications have behaved over the last three, six and twelve hours up to the last twenty-four hours. This is a great way to check for any memory hogs.
It seems that Google has listened to users' requests and has changed how to access the memory settings option. Now, rather than buried in the Apps, Advanced menu, the Memory command sitting in main settings, just under the battery option and above users. This makes the memory setting significantly easier to find! Furthermore,Google have made this aspect of the settings menu cleaner and easier to work with, too. Perhaps their plan is for users to find the setting and report unusually behaving applications?