Does your phone stress you out? Is it packed with unnecessary apps, widgets, and contacts? Is it running outdated software? It’s time to make some changes! Take five minutes to go through one of these steps each day for five days, and you’ll have a phone that runs faster, looks nicer, and gives you a more pleasant overall experience.
1. Update Your Contacts
How long has it been since you’ve performed maintenance on your contacts list? If it’s been more than a year or two, you probably have tons of duplicate contacts, incorrect information, and half-completed entries that are taking up space.
First, go through the list and delete any entries that you don’t need anymore: people whose information you only needed for a week, old entries that are no longer correct, duplicates, and anything else that looks out of place
Once you’ve cleaned out the unwanted entries, you can spend a few minutes jazzing up your contacts. For example, on iOS you can download profile photos from Facebook to your contacts by going to Settings > Facebook > Update All Contacts and making sure that the switch for Contacts is in the on position. Choose Twitter under Settings to pull in profile images from there instead.
You can also download a new contact management application like Cobook to put your contacts in groups, link their entries to social networks, and get smarter sorting options. You can use Cobook to sync contacts with your Mac, too, making this an especially good option.
2. Clean Your Apps, Widgets, Photos, and Videos
App overload is one of the main reasons your smartphone experience is stressful and inefficient. Most people have tons of apps, and if you’re a tech-head, you probably have even more than the average (in a poll last year, 39% of MakeUseOf-reading respondents had over 100 apps). How many of them do you use every week? Every day? Probably not nearly all of them.
So start deleting. Get rid of old games that you don’t play anymore, organizational apps that you tested out and switched away from, apps that are not longer under development or support, and apps that you just don’t use. Delete useless files, too. Keep apps that you use on a regular basis and ones that you really love but don’t use very often, and get rid of the rest. They’re tied to your Apple ID or Google Account, so you can always retrieve them if you need them again.
If you’re on Android, do the same with widgets — if you’ve been collecting cool widgets or add-ons, you probably have a lot you don’t use taking up space. You might have to do a bit of digging, but finding these and getting rid of them will really help clean up your phone’s storage.
While you’re at it, clean out old photos and videos, too. Videos take up a ton of space, and hundreds of photos can make a big dent in your available storage. Delete anything that’s not worth keeping on your phone, and back the rest up to Dropbox or another cloud storage provider.
3. Build a Better Homescreen
Your homescreen is usually the first thing you see after unlocking your phone, so it’s prime space for improving your overall experience. Start with choosing a nice background image — check out these 8 sites for downloading iOS wallpapers, grab some Android background images or check use of these three wallpaper apps for Android (Facets, discussed in this article on Android wallpapers, is available for iOS, too).
On an iPhone, you can’t make the same sort of minimalist homescreen you can on an Android, but you can do a lot to make it easier to work with your apps. Group your apps by function or some other criteria and put them in folders so you can easily find them. If you’re on a jailbroken phone, you can use Poof to hide the apps that you don’t use and de-clutter your homescreen.
On my personal iPhone, my favorite method of organization is to have all of my most-used apps on my first homescreen, a bunch of folders on the second homescreen and the default Apple apps that I don’t use on the third.
4. Upgrade Your OS
If you haven’t updated your OS in a while, downloading and installing the latest update could make a big difference in the performance and look of your phone. For example, the latest iOS update gave us Control Center and AirDrop, and the most recent Android added “OK Google” and better multi-tasking.
On iOS, you’ll see a notification on the Settings icon if you have an update available — just open up Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Download and Install, and it’ll start! Updating Android is quite similar: open up Settings, go to About Phone, and tap Software Update if the option is available.
If you’re using stock iOS, you can gain a lot of great functionality by jailbreaking your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch which allows you install tweaks and modifies the way your phone behaves beyond Apple’s specification.
After jailbreaking your iPhone, check out our list of the best Cydia tweaks to improve your experience.
And if you’re on Android, rooting your phone will give you a whole host of new options—with a rooted phone, you can customize just about anything. The rooting procedure varies depending on your device, but you can find apps like SuperOneClick that will help you root your Android phone very easily. After you’ve rooted, you can install a custom ROM, like SlimKat 4.4.2, one of my personal favorites.
Once you have your new OS in place, play around with the settings to customize how your phone behaves. The more it suits your needs, the more pleasant it will be to use!
5. Update Your Settings
Over the lifetime of a phone, you’re likely to make a lot of little tweaks to the way your phone behaves. For this reason your settings can get a bit messy after a while; maybe you turned off notifications for an app you really want, or you adjusted the screen settings to make playing your favorite game better. Settings can change a lot when you upgrade your OS, too. And while updating your settings doesn’t feel very exciting, it can be really helpful in the day-to-day use of your phone.
So take the time to set everything back to the way you like it. This great article on adjusting your iOS 7 settings takes you through reducing the nausea-inducing motion in iOS, turning off Gmail contacts to clean up your contact list, standardizing Facetime IDs, and a lot more things that you can do to improve your experience.
There are a number of great settings tweaks you can make on Android too, like setting up multiple user accounts and getting access to iCloud. You can even set up different settings profiles with apps like Smart Settings, so that your phone behaves how you want it to no matter where you are.
What have you done to make your phone a more pleasant place? Share your favorite tips in the comments.