Your Android phone is a lot like your body. Just as your body can become bloated, sluggish and out of shape over time, your smartphone can gradually accumulate apps, data, and other excess baggage through bad habits and indulgences gone unchecked.
I'm talking about your bad habits and indulgences. It's not like your smartphone gained all that additional weight (in the form of app bloat and other things) by itself. You, with your impulsive downloads and fleeting interests, have become an enabler!
But just as a couple of good fitness apps can turn your smartphone into a personal trainer, you can return the favor by taking a few steps that will help whip your smartphone into the lean, mean productivity (and play) machine it was always meant to be.
And there's no better time to do this than during the dog days of summer, when the work world slows down and you finally have some time to think and focus on the needs of your loved ones. Your family too.
So here's a quick guide to a summer shape-up program for your Android smartphone:
Gauge your smartphone's apps gut
This is the smartphone equivalent of standing in front of the mirror naked. Go to Settings and find your list of apps (they might be under "App Manager" or simply "Apps," depending on what kind of mobile device you own).
And now look. Look! A large chunk of that storage is taken up by the kinds of pre-loaded apps that manufacturers stuff onto a mobile device, most of which is just an exercise in branding. Most pre-loaded apps don't seem to have an "uninstall" feature, so I concentrate on the apps I've downloaded, all of which I can uninstall.
There are 68 downloaded apps in my device's app manager. I went right down the list, and if I couldn't remember what an app is for or the last time I used it, I uninstalled it. So I dumped Fandango, Speedtest, SoundHound, Yammer, Waze, Zedge and a few others.
I know, some of these apps -- particularly Waze and Fandango -- are very useful. But not if you don't use them! And remember, if you uninstall an app and decide down the road that you need it, just download it again. But the odds are you won't miss any of them.
Download a tune-up app
Going through your apps manually can be an eye-opener, but in the long run you'll be better served by downloading an app to help you maintain your phone.
There are a number of them out there, but the one I downloaded from Google Play is called Power Tune-Up by Bitdefender.
Once you install and open Power Tune-Up, you'll see four icons for managing different aspects of your phone. One of those addresses your phone's rate of battery consumption, an important element in overall performance. Whether you use Power Tune-Up or another battery-saving app (here are two others I wrote about recently), having a tool to manage your phone's battery life is essential, especially if you spend a lot of time out and about, and especially if you rely heavily on GPS, which is a battery hog.
Power Tune-Up offers low-battery notifications, a night-time battery saver (I have one too; it's called turning off my phone), and a battery saver mode when the charge level falls below 30%.
The app's Clean-up mode will analyze your phone and determine how much data is residing in the various caches on your device. You can dump all of that cached data by pressing "Clean all." There's also a cache cleaner schedule you can activate.
Clean-up mode also allows you to check data in gallery thumbnails, empty directories, log files and duplicate files. All can be eliminated with the press of a button.
Move apps and media to your phone's SD card
If your Android phone has an SD card, you're probably not using it enough for storage. But many of the apps now clogging your device's storage could be moved to your SD card. There are numerous apps that will do this for you.
You also can move multimedia files to an SD card, if you have one. If not, you can move these files to whatever cloud service you use. They're still accessible, but not clogging your phone's storage.
Back to the factory (reset)
If you're really looking to make your Android phone run just like new, you can do what's called a "hard reset." It's not as extreme as rooting a phone, but a factory reset will basically return your phone to its original condition.
In other words, anything you've added to it -- downloaded apps, system settings, your Google account, personal data (including passwords), and music, photos and video. Your phone should have a back-up option that will store apps data, Wi-Fi passwords and other settings to Google services.
My HTC One has the "Backup & reset" option in Settings, but not all Android devices are the same. I'd recommend Googling "factory reset" for your device, if you're willing to start fresh.