Our absurd consumerism has reached the point that lots of people consider their smartphones ‘obsolete’ when they’re just a year old – especially around this time of year when we’re all trigger-happy with Christmas splurges. But as we can’t all go around tossing things out forever, it might be a good idea to take stock of the methods for leaving your device like new and giving it a different look without having to retire it. Here are a few tips at the software level to give your phone a second life.
Although there are lots of tricks and recommendations to free up space, you might still get to the point that you overlook lots of folders with temporary files or redundant information, meaning it’s not a bad idea to restore the device to its factory settings both to get back some space and to improve performance due to the residual processes running in the background that we often overlook.
Just a couple things to keep in mind: when it comes to doing the restore you should make sure you have all your important information backed up. For your photos you can’t beat Google Photos’ cloud synching option, as it offers unlimited space and, if you use WhatsApp, as of a few months ago it has its own backup system so you don’t lose your received items or your chats. In terms of installed apps, passwords, and contacts: no worries, Google is very prepared and will automatically sync everything. If you go to Settings > Backup you can start the process.
Install Google apps
Each device comes with its own layers of customization belonging to the manufacturer, but it’s true that nothing can compare to the so-called ‘Google Experience’ found in first-party apps. Here is a summary of the basic ones:
- Google Now Launcher: Interface, icons, and menus.
- Google App: The integrated search tool.
- Google Keyboard: The integrated official virtual keyboard.
The other items are optional and depend on your whether you prefer to keep using native Google tools or turn to third-party apps for your calendar, contacts book, or IM. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Swap your default apps for better ones
The ennui of always seeing the same apps might lead you to think that swapping your hardware for something new will fix everything. WRONG. If for example you use Evernote a lot but you’re still not sold on it, it might be a good idea to make the jump to a combo like Pocket + Google Keep. Here are some alternatives mentioned in a previous blog post that can give a good push to your productivity:
- Email: Blue Mail, MailBox, CloudMagic
- Calendar: Sunrise Calendar, SolCalendar, do Cal
- Photos: QuickPic, Camera 360
- Contacts: Contacts+
- Browser: Opera Mini, CM Browser, Dolphin
More in-depth customization: Change your launcher
If all that is not enough you can always take extreme measures and install one of the many launchers that let you change the menu system, even to the point of making your phone look like the competition. Some like Arrow Launcher, Z Launcher, and Aviate change the look of your Android without falling face-first into tackiness. Likewise, a change in the notification sounds and your ringtone can work miracles to cure your bottomless technological ennui.
The outside matters, too
If all that’s not enough, there are always a couple aces to pull out of your sleeve. If you’re very conservative and cautious, you’re sure to use a rubber sleeve or protector on your device to avoid catastrophes should you drop it. The problem with using these sorts of accessories is that you lose a lot of the feeling of the touch capacity and the original dimensions of the device.
Is your phone already a couple years old? Now’s the perfect time to throw caution to the wind! If you’re not in love with the device, why not send it out with a bang by using it with no protection so you can enjoy it in its original form. And please, swap out that horrid adhesive screen protector for something better, or get rid of it entirely if you have a good Gorilla Glass screen. Touch is the least appreciated of the senses.