How to: Stop “nAPPing” and be “hAPPy”

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed the realities of being an Android app whore. The truth is, each of us is guilty at some point of seeking, installing, and abandoning “the next best thing.” I have pages of “My Apps” in Google Play as proof of my Android app addiction, and my app binges and purges. Sure, I can justify my gluttony by saying “they’re for research,” but the truth is, I like to use, abuse, and discard the apps just like everyone else. The freer the better, and the less guilt I feel.

The great thing about Android, and especially with the recent introduction and growth of Android 4.x, is the fantastic app experiences you now find. I suspect as the hardware improves, and the OS updates keep coming, we’ll see more and more “cool” apps available in Google Play.

The trick though to having a good app experience is management and organization. Here are some ways to clean up your Android desktop.

Uninstall

The easiest and perhaps fastest way to clean up your Android device is to get rid of any unused apps on your device. I previously suggested that you get your apps and order them by importance and usage. You’ll find that there are some of your apps you use everyday, some which are of moderate use, and a significant handful you installed, opened once, and failed to remove.

In case you need an app removal refresher, the easiest way to remove any Android app is using the settings screen (Settings > Apps). Some app launchers and devices include a shortcut to manage apps from the menu screen.

In the settings screen, you can manage all of your apps, just the apps currently running on your device, or the apps you’ve downloaded. I like to sort the apps by size, just to get an idea of where my storage abusers are.

Screenshot_2013-02-14-06-06-09Here you can see that Google Play takes up a lot of space. I guess I need to cancel some magazine subscriptions.

From here, you can uninstall the app by clicking the app and selecting “Uninstall.” Voila, you’ve gained some necessary space, and deleted an unnecessary app.

Turn off Auto-add

The “Auto-add Widgets” is, in my opinion, one of the annoying default settings in Google Play. The feature automatically adds widgets or shortcuts for apps you install on your device’s home screen. This clutters up your screens creating a chaos similar to my assistant’s app overload.

You can easily shut down the auto-add feature by unchecking the box next to “Auto-add widgets” in the Google Play settings on your phone or tablet.

Google Play Auto-add Widgets

In the Play Store, click Menu > Settings to access the Play Store settings on your Android device.

Organize Your Apps in Folders

Folders have to be my favorite feature and way to organize apps. Android 4.x created a more unified folder design (instead of standard manila folder looking icon), to allow round folders. Since I use Nova Launcher to customize how my screens display, I can also customize the design of my home screen folders.

Screenshot_2013-02-14-04-29-40

I group my apps in folders according to particular categories. You can also see that I can dock a number of apps along the bottom, which represent my most frequently used apps.

A customizable launcher helps me to achieve organization and simplicity, in addition to fitting a number of apps on one screen. My tablet home screen is much less cluttered than my phone, since the tablet serves a different purpose.

Screenshot_2013-02-13-22-40-16

However, I still use a comparable organization method, and arrange my apps according to their specific place in the organizational method.

Use Widgets to Obtain Information

I have a soft spot in my heart and mind for Android’s best kept secret, widgets. I love being able to customize my desktop with a variety of widgets, and access necessary information from the widget.

For instance, I use a Gmail widget to show responses and reports for my email correspondence. Obviously, I also use The Weather Channel widget and the Google Now widget to display particular information. Although widgets tend to consume battery power, when used properly, these little gems can often replace your app, at least via direct link, on your home screen.

On to Blissful Ignorance

Once you learn to manage your apps, you’ll also manage your addiction. Make your app craving healthy. Don’t be afraid of trying new apps, either. As developers harness the power of the newer Android OS, we’re going to see a multitude of new apps to replace the old, outdated ones.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.