Get more from your device

Get more from your device

Whatever your gadget, there are little tips and tricks to squeeze more out of it in terms of performance. Digital Life writers share their favourite ones.


1. Back up to the cloud

Cloud services like Gmail, Box and Evernote allow users to back up items to online storage services, so that they can also be accessed from another computer or device at a later time.

This eliminates the hassle of copying a file from a phone and transferring it to the other device.

If you take many photos with your smartphone, consider backing up all your photos to the cloud. The great thing about Android is that Google provides 15GB of cloud storage to each user, which is more than the default 2GB offered by the likes of Dropbox.

Download the Google+ app and in settings, choose to automatically back up your photos using your data plan, or only with a Wi-Fi connection.

Using a Wi-Fi connection is cheaper as this does not eat into your monthly data cap, but you have to remember to connect your phone to a Wi-Fi network frequently.

Here is a little known bit about the photo back-up service in Google+. If you back up photos at the standard size setting, instead of the full-sized one, you get unlimited free storage.

So if you have exceeded the 15GB of free space, you can still back up your photos, albeit at a lower resolution.

2. Clear the junk

Like a computer, smartphones tend to collect junk files over time, whether they are redundant installation files or apps that are no longer being used.

But short of doing a factory reset, which wipes the device completely, clearing the phone of such files can be tedious and time consuming.

Apps such as Clean Master actually monitor your Android device and can periodically offer to clean the device by notifying owners of old files and unused apps.

Use Storage Analyser if you want to scan the size of folders within your device, so that you can free up some space when needed.

Xiaomi devices, among others, offer a similar app as part of its user interface.

3. Use a third-party launcher

While Android fans love Google's operating system because it offers customisation, different hardware makers implement their own versions of the software. This has led to many variations of the basic user interface. So, for example:

-Brands such as Xiaomi do not use a main menu drawer to house all app icons;

-HTC uses a top/down scrolling main menu;

-Samsung and LG use a left/right method.

One way to achieve a consistent user experience is to install a third-party launcher. This replaces the existing user interface. When the launcher is used across multiple Android devices, users get a consistent interface without worrying that one brand has it done this way, instead of that way.

Google has its own Now Launcher, while others, such as Apex and Nova, also have their fans. I use Yahoo's Aviate.

4. Cut down on data syncing

The curse of having a connected device that syncs with different services is that it can slow down the device considerably, especially if you are in areas with a poor connection, such as an underground train tunnel.

Choose to back up your photos over a Wi-Fi network and turn off notifications for services like Facebook and Twitter if you are prone to checking your social networks every minute or so.

Go to Accounts in the Settings option and run through all the services that use data syncing. Select the ones you can sync manually, such as your Calendar, Contacts and Dropbox.

5. Boost your battery

Portable battery packs are a boon to phone owners whose devices easily run flat in under 12 hours. However, there are some steps owners can take to conserve battery life.

Turning off the phone's GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use is a must and when you really need to squeeze that little extra juice, consider battery apps such as Juice Defender or Battery Defender.

You can set the phone to turn off data when the battery slips below a certain level, or turn on the data every 15 minutes for a quick burst of data syncing, instead of pulling data every minute.

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