12 Steps to Better Mobile Apps & Longer Battery Life

Smartphone Apps and Battery Life

O.K. You just bought the latest Android phone from your favorite carrier. As you gaze at the sharp screen, you see smartphone apps everywhere. Want weather? There’s an app for that. Post to Facebook or tweet on Twitter? Lots of apps for social networking. You flip through the screens–screen after screen of mobile applications. And then you see it…an icon for the Android Market. You drool as you press the button.

Sound like your first experience with a smartphone? Whether you own an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Windows mobile phone, most people soon populate their shiny screens with lots of apps (around 42 for iPhoner’s and 15 for Androiders).

While mobile apps are handy little things to read Web content–news, sports, weather, etc.–they’re a blessing in disguise. Apps are nothing more than mobile software making it easier to retrieve information from the Internet–miniature versions of application software similar to what’s on your personal computer.

Some mobile apps are addictive–like the game Angry Birds. Others are annoying, badgering you to buy the “full version.” But many, if not most, of the 1 zillion available are never downloaded. And the chance of a mobile app sitting on your phone’s screen for more than 48 hours is about 1 in 10. Zap!

12 Steps to Better Mobile Apps & Longer Battery Life

  1. Download no more than 12 in the first two weeks you own a new phone. It’s similar to switching back-and-forth with cable or satellite TV channels. “Gee, I’m paying for 100 HD channels; I want my money’s worth.” Click.
  2. Don’t pay for any apps in the first month. Too many smartphone owners’ friends recommend cool apps. And soon you owe your credit card company or carrier lots of cash. They’re tons of free apps to check out.  Nada on paying.
  3. Choose apps that do one or two things really well. Evernote, for example, is a terrific way to capture your thoughts, web information, to do’s and more. They’res a free and premium version for only $5 a month. And the software program syncs across the Web to any personal computer, phone or tablet like the iPad. Searching with keywords lets you locate any information in five seconds. So don’t buy software that promises to control your home lighting system, scan barcodes and make toast. I guarantee your dissatisfaction with at least one of its functions.
  4. Read descriptions and reviews from other users and watch what personal information you’re sharing. Some apps, for instance, make it easy to share music or locate places. But why would the developer ask your permission to post to your Facebook page? Clearly, a marketing ploy.
  5. Avoid software that’s new with few downloads. You may unavoidably load malware, trojan horses and other nefarious bad bugs. Check out Lookout, a mobile app that keeps your phone clean of such vermin and even let’s you locate your lost phone with a computer.
  6. Save your precious battery life by eliminating software you don’t use at least once a week. More apps, even if you’re not using them, frequently take up memory in the background. If you need the program later, you can always get it back on your phone quickly.
  7. Kill apps periodically through the day using a utility like Battery Doctor.
  8. Turn off the mobile network data connection (3G/4G) at bedtime. You’ll still get phone calls while reducing the battery drain.
  9. If you can, save as many apps to the memory chip. Superbox, an Android utility I use on my Samsung Epic, identifies which apps will sit quietly on a memory chip until needed. That frees up your phone’s operating system memory, making your phone run faster.
  10. Use Google search with voice recognition rather than loading another location mobile app. It’s faster and the voice recognition is easier. Just say “pizza, San Francisco” and up pops a Google screen full of pizza places, maps and directions.
  11. Drain your phone’s battery to 10-15% before re-charging.  Battery Doctor and and utilities tell you when. Don’t top it off like your car’s gas tank. (Solar cell technology may eventually help solve battery life smartphone problem; until then, try the steps above.)
  12. Be patient and gentle with your smartphone–apps and all. The poor thing gets banged around, tossed on car seats and battered by users.