Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tips to make your Android Smartphone 'Smarter'.

This post was originally written by me as the second entry for the #HuaweiClub Blogathon. Find the original post HERE. Do give your valuable comments on the link!

Smartphones have changed our lifestyle enormously, and most of our work that earlier involved a desktop pc or laptop, can now be done using smartphones & tablets. Android OS has the largest market, making a smartphone available from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 50000, basically giving access to android & its apps to everyone.


We all love smartphones and use them for checking emails, social networking, playing games, clicking images (Apart from the basic talking on the phone). But is that all there is? Does it have more to offer? Things that we are unaware of? We all from time to time face issues with our smartphone, battery drainage, lagging, rebooting, unable to type quickly, memory consumption etc. Should we give up in frustration and buy a more expensive phone that promises to solve these issues? Or should we throw the phone or bang our heads on it?


The answer is NO. There are various tips & tricks that can make your existing android experience more beneficial. Here are some of them-

1. Use of WidgetsCustomize your homescreen with widgets of the apps you use. Most of them are available, for eg. email, twitter, facebook, power options, etc. If widgets are not available, you can simply add a shortcut of the app you use frequently. This will make accessing apps faster!
Check the screenshot of my phone below, the 'Power Control' Widget is something I cannot do without, it makes switching Wifi / Bluetooth / GPS etc On or Off take not more than a second!

2. Clearing Cache / App Data / Cookies
This one is specially for heavy users, who spend a lot of time on their smartphones. I suggest that atleast once a week you should clear the cache. This is easy to do by going to Settings--> Apps--> Click on particular app & clear cache (or data too if you think its not important to store.)
I clear a total of 1 GB space each time I do it, usually once a week or every 10 days.

3. Home Screen Launcher
Now this one is a little controversial, because you will find users who love and swear by their home screen launcher and others who say it makes their phone slow & eats a lot of memory. So I would suggest you to install a nice launcher, say Nova Launcher, customize it according to your requirements and use it for a week. If you find it useful, continue! But if you think you are not benifiting from it, or if it makes your phone slow, uninstall immedietely. These launchers have beautiful and a wide variety of plug-ins and themes for you to try out!

4. Task Killer / App Killer App
There are many apps available like "Clean Master" etc that will clear your phone's memory or kill all open apps to make your phone instantly faster. The plus point of this is that you do not have to personally exit from each app.

5. Swiftkey
This app is a blessing in disguise for all bloggers, twitter users or basically anyone who needs to type a lot from their smartphone. Apart from making typing faster, what I love about this app is that it stores words you use, learns from your social media accounts, sms and emails (only if you permit) and then when you are typing, will instantly and very accurately suggest words! I am a avid twitter contests player, so when it stores a hashtag and prompts appropriately, it saves a lot of time! You can even change its layout or theme to give you an amazing typing experience!

6. Uninstall apps that are not in use
We all browse through the Play store, and out of curiousity or when suggested by someone, install a lot of new apps. Some we use, others we think we might use someday. There are apps installed on our phones that we have not used even once, and probably wont ever. So go through your phone, if there are apps that you haven't used in a long long time, uninstall it. You can always reinstall later if you feel like!

7. Battery Optimization
Every smartphone user always has one issue- battery drainage. Lower your screen brightness, Turn Data off when not in use, Turn GPS off when not in use, Switch off haptic feedback, Remove the Live Wallpaper. Doing all this will improve your battery backup. Apart from that, install an app such as "Battery Doctor" which will tell you what is eating your battery the most. 

8. Other uses of smartphones
A) Personal Fitness Trainer
Pedometer apps, and many other tutorial & fitness apps turn your phone into a personal trainer!

B) Scanner
Apps like CamScanner convert images clicked into scanned documents. I have not used a proper scanner ever since I started using this!

C) Reminder
Honestly speaking, my memory sucks, and I tend to forget things to be done unless & until reminded. So a reminder app is must for me! Google has a inbuilt one too, but I like COL Reminder.

D) Phonebanking
Most of the banks now have a phonebanking app, allowing you to check balance, make transactions, payments etc right from your phone! I am a HDFC bank account holder, and have never faced any issue with its phonebanking app.

E) eCommerce portals like eBay / OLX etc
Now you can post things to sell straight from your phone. A good app for those who want to utilize their travel time. I am a eBay seller, so I like to check the biddings going on on the items I have listed for auction.

F) Music Instruments/ DJing apps
A music enthusiast or professional can turn their smartphone into a touchpad and make tracks easily!

This is all I have for now, I am sure there is a lot more to be uncovered!
Please do add in your views in the comments section! I would definitely love to read them!