Spring comes with a promise of renewal, a fresh start and a lot of rain. I look forward to starting seasonal projects, like planting our “urban farmer” fruit, vegetable and herb gardens or expanding the back patio. The car is getting a good detailing, and the winter clothes are getting packed away, making room for spring and summer attire. Just about everything seems to get a warm-weather makeover, a refreshing cleanse to start the season off right, including my BlackBerry smartphones.
Don’t worry, they’re not taking a turn in the dishwasher or being taken apart for a deep scrubbing (I’m kind of against voiding warranties). I admit to removing them from their cases, wiping down both with alcohol wipes, cleaning the ports and slapping on a new screen protector. But my cleaning goes much further than that, and yours should, too. Think about all that you do with your smartphone, all the files you access, the emails you manage, the contacts you make. It’s safe to say that you probably add more content than you delete. It’s probably feeling more bloated that you do after your winter binging and hibernation.
Here are a few things that I do to clean up my smartphones.
1) De-clutter My Apps
I have a personal rule for apps that make their way onto my BlackBerry smartphones; if I don’t access it within 30 days, it’s uninstalled! It’s nothing personal… actually, it probably is. If I don’t find it entertaining or useful enough to incorporate into my routine, then it needs to make way for something else. I’ve cast aside a fair share of scorned apps in my time.
I also like to arrange my apps by priority, but not in consecutive order by row. I position my most used apps where I can quickly reach them on the screen. I also love to use folders to group apps by type or function. These always change over time, so every few months I check to see if I need to perform an app shuffle.
2) Back That Phone Up
Now before I really get into a thorough content cleaning, I make sure that I back my smartphones up. BlackBerry Link let’s me safely store information from my Z30, while the Android Backup Service manages data from my PRIV. While I’m at it, I also back up my personal multimedia to either Dropbox or one of the other cloud services available. With photos and videos, especially family ones, I always make sure to have both an offline and an online backup for each file. Over time, I hope to print the most important photos as another storage option.
I tend to use my media card as a temporary storage location, with data’s final destination being the trash, another storage device or the cloud. I prefer using cloud storage, as I can retrieve the files from anywhere, especially when I can choose to automatically back up photos.
3) Lose Contact(s)
I try to keep my contact list as trim as possible. Remember that guy who said that thing that one time? No, neither do I. That’s why I don’t need them in my contact list. Does it sound harsh? Yes, but remember that I like my apps functional, and that includes my address book. I like to make sure that my favourite contacts are still my favourites. Names and numbers that I quickly enter in but never use will eventually be removed. I can still connect through social network services such as Twitter or LinkedIn if I need to reach extended contacts.
4) Trim Unnecessary Rubbish
I’ve been trying to turn a new task into a habit: clearing my cached data. I know that apps store data for future reference, allowing for quicker load times and preventing me from downloading information each time I access it. If I clear my cache every month or two, I know that I can get just a bit more memory and perhaps see some sort of performance improvement. If I’m feeling crazy, I can also delete app data on my PRIV and start my app experience from scratch.
I try to connect to WiFi when I can, but I dislike keeping a log of saved networks, especially if I know it’s going to be more than six months before I’m in the area again. The Downloads folder is another area that quickly becomes a dumping ground if it’s not managed. I don’t need to access flyers, reports and presentations that I’ve already dealt with. Most of the music that I listen to now is streamed from Spotify anyway. I’ll leave the downloading of music to the decade-or-so-younger version of me.
5) Grant Permission to Stop Asking for Permission
Annoying push notifications are the bane of my existence! The same goes for location permission requests from apps. In trying to protect my privacy, it turns out they invade my privacy even more. It’s almost as though these apps are watching to see when I set my phone down for the day and trying to pull me back to the screen. I don’t want to see my notification bar filled with useless icons.
6) Do a Security Refresh
This isn’t a smartphone-centric option, and I don’t wait until spring to do this. I usually change my passwords every three months or so. I change my Picture Password on both the PRIV and Z30 by choosing a new number, new location, new image or a combination of all three. A rule I have for myself is: if I can remember a password to the point that I can use it without thinking, I need to change it. If I don’t have to rely on a service like LastPass or the BlackBerry Password Keeper app to keep up with my passwords, then the password isn’t useful.
7) Use Your Restoration Skill
While my love for my BlackBerry smartphones doesn’t waiver, I do enjoy the brand-new BlackBerry experience, with a device ready to be moulded in my image. To regain that feeling, occasionally I have been known to back up my devices, perform a factory reset and partially restore the data. It helps clear out issues that even I may have overlooked.
8) Give it a Final Onceover
Once you’ve given your device, notifications and settings a virtual overhaul, you can help maintain its performance by installing one of the many battery and memory saving apps found within BlackBerry World and Google Play Store. Why not treat your phone to a new case and skin as well? The finishing touch is a brand spanking new wallpaper! If you can’t decide on one, let an app, like the World of Pootermobile wallpapers, decide for you.
Do these things, and the next time someone asks why you’re not helping with the spring cleaning, you can say that you are; you’re just starting with your phone.
About Ryan Blundell
Ryan has been involved in the wireless industry for well over a decade; currently managing technical communication, interaction design and content strategy for a Canadian wireless provider. He has previously been published on Innovation Insights, Business 2 Community, Everything Zoomer and CrackBerry.com. You can follow Ryan on twitter @ryanblundell