iPhone and iPad

5 Things In 5 Minutes: Make Your Smartphone a More Pleasant Place

Dann Albright 04-08-2014

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 Is it running outdated software?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 Cobook: A Beautiful & Powerful Address Book Replacement [Mac] The contacts synchronization feature on my smartphone prompted me to get my contacts in order. I was rewarded for this effort a few months later when that same cellphone started breaking down, and decided to... Read More , 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 PhoneClean 2 Promises To Free Up Space on Your iOS Device, But Does It Work? I have been looking for something that could clean up my iPad for me and, according to iMobie, PhoneClean is the program to do that. The free program that claims to free space on your... Read More , 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 Dropbox - One Of The Must-Have Apps If You Own An iPhone Ever since I went over to the Dark Side earlier this year to get my cookies and buy an iPhone, one app has been completely invaluable to me - Dropbox. In fact, I would go... Read More 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 8 Best Websites for Quality iOS Homescreen Wallpapers Having something new and beautiful can often feel refreshing. Finding worthwhile wallpapers is a different story though as it could well be a time-consuming and somewhat tedious task. Last year, we gathered a huge collection... Read More grab some Android background images 7 Sources To Download Quality Android Homescreen Wallpapers The web is a rich repository of all kinds of goodies for your mobile phone, whether it is an iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 or Android device. In fact, we have rounded up some of... Read More  or check use of these three wallpaper apps for Android Decorate Your Android Home Screen In Style With These 3 Wallpaper Apps Get past your phone's lock screen, and the first thing that catches the eye is your wallpaper. Read More  (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 How to Make Your Own Uniquely Gorgeous Android Home Screen Here's a detailed look at the whole process. If you follow it step by step, you can get the same eye-catching home screen for your device and learn to experiment with design recipes. Read More , 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 How To Hide Unwanted Default Apps On a Jailbroken iPhone Or iPad Some of the apps that are shipped on your iPhone or iPad are great. I wouldn't for the life of me want to replace the default Mail or Notes applications. Nevertheless, the truth is that... Read More 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 What's New in iOS 7? A new generation of iOS is nearly upon us, revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week. Guided strongly by (Sir) Jony Ive, iOS 7 marks a clear departure from the skeumorphic UI elements of... Read More 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 How To Jailbreak iOS 7.1.x & Install Cydia With Pangu Last week a Chinese team called Pangu released an untethered jailbreak for iOS 7.1.1. Here's how to jailbreak your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with the latest payload. Read More  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 3 Cool Things You Can Do With A Rooted Android Phone By now you will know that there are a bunch of us here at MakeUseOf that love Android phones. Paul's article on writing an Android app is a good example of how thoroughly we dig... Read More —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 How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick Read More your Android phone very easily. After you’ve rooted, you can install a custom ROM, like SlimKat 4.4.2 An Alternative ROM Worth Your Time: SlimKat Android 4.4.2 Why flash? Slimkat, from Slimroms offers a compelling answer. Read More , 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 You Might Want To Change These Pesky Default iOS 7 Settings The way Apple supplies the iPhone or iPad in its default state might not be for everybody, and there are a number of settings you might want to change immediately. Read More 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 Two People, One Tablet: What Are Your Options? Want to share a tablet between multiple people? Then you need to learn how to juggle multiple user accounts. Read More  and getting access to iCloud 5 Ways to Access iCloud on Your Android Need to log into iCloud mail, calendar, and contacts on your Android? Here is how you can sync your iCloud account to an Android. Read More . You can even set up different settings profiles with apps like Smart Settings Automatically Switch Between Sound and Power Profiles With Smart Settings [Android 2.1+] In a perfect world, our smartphones would know exactly when they should be silent, when they need to remind us of things, and when they should conserve battery. By default, however, our phones don't do... Read More , 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.

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  1. Joey Rambish
    August 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

    What version is the Eclipse programming up to these days?

  2. Pradip S
    August 6, 2014 at 4:42 am

    On Android devices I would not recommend rooting unless you can first lay your hands on the ORIGINAL rom image and have is loaded on the device for restoring in the event of a disaster. I am no programer but would certainly like someone to come up with an application that can extract and create such an image from an Android device. Rooting would then be a whole lot more popular and fun !

    • Krish
      August 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Heard of EaseUS To Do Backup ? It can backup Android also.


    • Pradip S
      August 7, 2014 at 5:04 am

      Are you sure EaseUS To Do Backup can extract the complete original rom image such that it can be restored to original factory settings? i don't think so. I have hundred ways to backup and restore my data. In fact I can switch the sim to any other Android phone and most of the stuff would get automatically restored just by logging into my google mail account. I have done a lot of experimentation but have yet to come cross a single application that will do that.

    • Dann A
      August 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Pradip, I understand your hesitation to root. I've had a few Android phones, and I've rooted them all, and I've only had one problem that required me to get in touch with professionals who could flash the original ROM. In general, rooting is actually pretty safe. And while there might not be a great solution for copying the original ROM, you can usually download the original from XDA.

    • Pradip S
      August 8, 2014 at 4:08 am

      I would have to assume that XDA has contacts with official service centers of the OEM and got the images from them in some manner or other. Other than that I do not see how they can get access to these "original" rom images which are very country specific in most instances. My first phone was a low cost, low spec Samsung Galaxy Pop Plus 5570i . I managed to root it and moved substantial number of apps to a 32 GB SanDisk external card. Don't know whether the problem was with the phone or the card it started giving all kinds of problems in accessing the card. wanted to restore the phone to the original settings but would not restore to factory settings nor could I install what was supposed to be the correct image. Finally I managed to install one for Galaxy Pop Plus Mini. Simply can't afford to turn my current phone into a brick!

    • Dann A
      August 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      As far as I know, the people at XDA don't have any contact with the official service centers. They are really skilled, though, so if you were going to find OEM ROMs, I think that would be your best bet.

      Sorry to hear that you had problems rooting; I've rooted two or three phones now, and I've never had that problem. It definitely can happen, but for the most part, it's pretty safe. People have gotten really good at it!

  3. Jethro76
    August 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    lol some tyms makeuseof think the whole world use iphone...

    • Dann A
      August 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Jethro, if we were to make sure that both iPhone and Android were addressed in every single article, we'd end up with a lot of very long articles. If you scroll up and read the article above, you'll see that I did address Android in a number of the points. And if you're looking for Android articles, I recommend checking out our Android section.

  4. Connectionfailure
    August 5, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Dann, who is this article aimed at? My mother?

    • Dann A
      August 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      The article is aimed at people who are a bit stressed out by their phones but aren't sure what to do about it. If your mother is one of those people, then yes, it's aimed at her. Feel free to pass it on.

  5. Jude
    August 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Tips for better wallpaper - I recommend PAPERS.CO - cool wallpapers!

    • Dann A
      August 7, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Carissa
      August 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks, I just found the perfect wallpaper on there!

    • Devin C
      August 11, 2014 at 6:53 am

      Excellent recommendation - the most beautiful wallpapers that I have seen. Thanx :)

  6. Willie
    August 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    So basically you're given up on providing tips, helpful hints, etc. for Windows mobile. Thanks a lot!

    • Dann A
      August 5, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      You're welcome, Willie!

      According to this article (http://blogs.computerworld.com/windows-phone/24202/windows-phone-continues-slide-now-under-3-share-worldwide-it-finally-dead), Windows Mobile has less than 3% marketshare across the world, so it's something that we don't cover all that often. Articles do show up on occasion, but because there are so few people using it, it's not a super high priority.

    • D Harries
      August 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

      An alternative to the article, if your mobile is making you stressful and it's unpleasant, I would recommend switching to Windows Phone.

      It's a smooth simple experience right out of the box. No need for any fussy articles.

      Windows Phone, it's a circular argument. Just like apps

    • Dann A
      August 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      I've never used a Windows phone myself, but it does look pretty slick. Have you used an iPhone or Android before? Is it really noticeably simpler?

  7. Khaled H
    August 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm