Windows 10 – 15 days in. Also big book announcement!

Windows 10 – 15 days in. Also big book announcement!

Windows 10 was released on 29th July, just over two weeks in, how is it going? Should you upgrade yet? and what should you look out for?

All good questions! Microsoft is keen for everyone to upgrade – they’ve set the target of having Windows 10 on a billion devices by 2017: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/24/technology/windows-microsoft-sales/

The upgrade process, when it works well, is very smooth. I’ve documented the process and steps in my book (more below!) but you can download the chapter on upgrading for free here: http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html

The main problem I had on my computer was most of the way through installation when it asked for my Microsoft ID (that you use for Skype, OneDrive, Xbox or other Microsoft services), I realised I’d forgotten it! I reset it on my phone though and you can create one at that point if needed. Other than that, it went fairly painlessly. On my wife’s laptop, her files, settings and programs transferred beautifully, but her mouse driver and speaker driver didn’t work meaning neither of those devices worked until we uninstalled the old drivers and Windows reverted to generic drivers which seem to work fine. For every person who has had trouble with the upgrade (some much worse than my wife’s), there are others who had a hassle free journey. If you use a branded computer (HP, Acer, etc), I’d recommend looking up the model and see what the manufacturer advises before upgrading.

You can either use the “Get Windows 10” item in your system tray (which should also flag any programs or hardware which might cause problems) or you can download ISO images from Microsoft directly: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 Note if you use the image you still need to “upgrade” in order to transfer your license across. You can choose to keep “nothing” during the install, which is one way of starting fresh and getting rid of any extra software bundled with your computer: http://www.howtogeek.com/216751/bloatware-banished-windows-10-eliminates-the-need-to-ever-reinstall-windows-on-new-pcs/

So, SHOULD you upgrade? The main points I would make are:

* Windows 10 is fairly stable – I haven’t had any crashes at all lately. I find Chrome freezes for a few seconds occasionally opening a new window, and on my wife’s laptop Outlook regularly freezes, sometimes for minutes on end.
* There are still glitches and features which don’t work completely (keyboard navigation through the Action Center, and Edge browser not recognising most screen reader navigation quick keys being several examples).
* Coming from Windows 7, the desktop and system tray are similar to what you’re used to. The Start menu is a little different and we’ll look at that shortly.
* Coming from Windows 8, the tiles in the start menu (you can go full screen) look familiar, and you can still type into the search box when you bring up the start menu.
* Not every program (or piece of hardware) works with Windows 10 yet, so check with your manufacturer on anything you need access to. Most AT vendors have announced either current or upcoming support for Windows 10:

Jaws 16 and Magic 13 both Windows 10 ready: http://www.freedomscientific.com/About/News/Article/141

Window Eyes 9.2 Works with Windows 10, Zoomtext not yet Windows 10 ready:
http://www.aisquared.com/support/more/windows_10_status

Supernova (beta), Guide, EasyConverter, EasyReader and Dolphin Publisher all Windows 10 ready:
http://www.yourdolphin.com/newsitem.asp?id=776

NVAccess recommending waiting until NVDA 2015.3 (due in late August):
http://www.nvaccess.org/win10/

Glassbrick don’t have anything on their website, it seems to work ok. On my machine I had to run in compatibility mode with display scaling disabled otherwise I couldn’t see the bottom of the screen (possibly a resolution issue rather than Windows 10 specifically?):
http://www.glassbrick.org/

Serotek have a similar position to NVAccess – System Access works with some aspects of Windows 10 however they recommend holding off upgrading both until their next version and until Microsoft iron out some of the early bugs in Windows 10:
http://www.serotek.com/blog_our_position_on_windows_10

And finally our own extra large mouse pointers work well in Windows 10: http://www.22point.com.au/cursors.html

demo_cursor

If you use adaptive technology, such as Jaws or Window Eyes, when you start the upgrade, it will speak through the first part. Once the computer has rebooted during the install, you will need to use Narrator to guide you through the rest of the install by pressing WINDOWS+U (and then need to reinstall your AT after the upgrade). How long you have to wait to start Narrator is tricky to guess – I have heard reports anyrwhere from 20 mins to 3 hours. Our computers here (1 – 5 years old), took 1 – 1 ½ hours. I would start it going, then come back and check whether WINDOWS+U does anything every 20 minutes or so.

One of the most eagerly anticipated features of Windows 10 is the Start menu.

start menu

The left side will look familiar to those used to Windows 7. Your username up the top gives option to change account settings, lock, sign out or change user. Below that are some of your most used and newest apps and under that a handful of system items including “File Explorer”, “Settings”, “Power” (where you shut down, sleep or restart) and “all apps” (changes that whole side of the start menu to an alphabetical list of every app you have installed). Windows favours the term “App” over “Program” but essentially they are interchangeable for many purposes.

The right side contains a grid of Windows 8 style tiles. When you pin something to the start menu, this is where it ends up (I’ve seen several sites mention pinning things to the left side of the start menu, however I haven’t been able to get these to work on any of our machines:
http://www.howtogeek.com/197836/8-ways-to-customize-the-windows-10-start-menu/). As well as simply launching apps, some of the tile are “Live” eg the weather and news, which display the temperature and the top news stories respectively.

When you press the Windows key or click the Start button, focus moves to the search bar where you can start typing an app or file name, a setting or any phrase to search the web for. This is consistent with previous versions but with extra functionality.

cortana

Cortana will likely also be of interest to many people – essentially you can dictate commands or information and it works very similarly to Siri on iOS or Google Now on Android. I’ve found the recognition is ok, particularly for launching apps for instance – it made a few more mistakes when I dictated text to type in an email but I could do it (much like using Siri for the same task). Here’s a more in depth look at what you can do with Cortana: https://techranker.net/cortana-commands-list-microsoft-voice-commands-video/

So what’s bad about the new Windows 10? Here’s a roundup of some of the main issues:

– Security: Some settings which are on by default include connecting to open Wi-Fi networks, letting any of your facebook friends automatically connect to your network without needing a password if they happen to drop by and search sending everything you type into the search box straight back to Microsoft. One handy guides on security settings (and tightening them up) is: https://fix10.isleaked.com/

Default apps are lost when you update. You can set them up again by going into search (hit the Windows key) and typing “default apps” and there you can set the default apps for various things.

Updates: One of the most contentious topics with Windows 10 is updates. If you have the home version, you get every update that comes out – both security patches (good!) and feature updates (could be good or bad). Several ways around this are: Buy the professional version and set it to receive updates on the “Professional branch for business” – you still get feature updates, but a few months down the track hopefully when any issues are fixed. Some users have also found themselves in an endless cycle of reboots after installing corrupt driver updates. If that’s you, this may be the relevant page to read: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-update/cumulative-update-for-windows-10-for-x64-based/7df7a262-42e6-4377-adf8-04a3beaed7b6?auth=1

Overall I like the new version, but I still recommend most users hold off for another couple of months to give the various boffins time to iron out the early bugs and get everything running smoothly for everyone, but if you do decide to upgrade, and once you get through the install, you should find most things work fairly well.

Finally my big announcement! “Making Windows 10 Easy to See” is now available!

[cover art for Making Windows 10 Easy to See]

[cover art for Making Windows 10 Easy to See]

Designed for users of laptops, desktop PCs and tablets. It’s the first book designed to help you not only get the most out of Windows 10, but also to help you set it up so you don’t need to squint.
Topics include:
– Turning on for the first time,
– Using larger fonts and magnifier,
– Getting around Windows,
– Common apps and tasks,
– All in easy to understand language.
Plus join the Making Windows Easy online community free!

Available directly from 22 Point at a special introductory price: http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html

Have you upgraded yet? How have you found the experience?

Unboxing a new device

This week I wanted to go through the process of unboxing a new device, and also, of doing a factory reset of an existing phone. If you’d rather hear me walk through the process with Talkback running, I’ve made a podcast of the unboxing and factory reset processes Also, if you wish to, jump straight to the “Unboxing a new device” section, otherwise see the steps for doing a factory reset below:

Performing a factory reset:

Performing a factory reset on your device erases all the data, apps and other information you have put on the device or downloaded, and returns the phone to the same state as if you had just unboxed it for the first time. The two exceptions to this are that it does not delete data off your external Micro SD card (if your device has one), and it does not reverse any system updates to the operating system itself. So if your phone initially came with Android 4.2 on it, and it has since received updates to Android 5.0, then doing a factory reset will make the phone the same as if you had just bought it from the shop but it had Android 5.0 on it.

There are several reasons why you might want to do a factory reset on your phone, including:
– If you are giving or selling the phone to someone else.
– If you want to delete everything and start again on your phone (remember again that this won’t reverse any system updates. If you received a system update you wish to reverse, the only way is to root your phone and either install a factory image of an earlier Android version for your phone, or install a custom ROM. See my articles on installing a custom ROM for the steps and information about doing this).

Note also, that like everyone else on the Internet, I won’t be held responsible for you deleting everything on your phone, you do that at your own risk.

The main precaution to take, as well as backing everything up, is to make sure your phone has a good amount of charge, I’d say at least 50%. I’ve factory reset a couple of devices a number of times without incident, but if the phone were to suddenly go flat in the middle of the operation, there is a chance of “bricking” your device (that is, making it unuseable).

Ok so the process to factory reset your device is:

1) Make sure you have all your data backed up, this includes your photos, recordings, notes, game high scores, list of apps, layout of apps everything! Not all of that can be backed up as such – eg depending on your launcher, some do have an option to backup your list of screens and location of items, but others don’t, so you may need to make a note of that manually. Often game high scores can’t be backed up though achievements on services like Google Play Games will remain recorded.

2) Go back and make sure you backed up everything in step 1! Even though Google+ offers to automatically back up your photos, it’s still a good idea to physically copy them to your computer, just in case, or at least your SD card.

3) Slide down with one finger to open the notification shade. On some devices the settings button (looks like a cog) is up the top right. On others, you may need to either press the “Quick Settings” button on the top right, or alternatively instead of swiping with one finger, swipe down with two fingers to open this screen directly. If you are using Talkback screen reader, then add an extra finger (swipe down with two fingers to open notification shade, or two fingers to open quick settings screen).

4) Locate the Settings button up near the top right and tap it (double tap with Talkback).

[Image of settings screen showing “Backup & Reset”]

5) Some devices have all the settings in one long list, and some divide them into sections. If you have a device which divides the settings into sections, what we want will be in the Device section, otherwise it will be just over halfway down the list and called something like “Backup and Reset” (yours may vary of course!). Select that option.

6) The Backup and Reset screen has options for how your data is backed up, the account to back up and whether to automatically restore data when you reinstall a backed up app.

[Image of Backup & Reset screen showing “Factory Data Reset” highlighted]

Now I must admit, I’ve factory reset several phones a number of times and I’m not sure if it’s because I have more than one phone linked to my account or something else I’m doing, but I’ve found that sometimes when I do a factory reset, it restores the apps I had on previously, and sometimes it doesn’t. Out of the last half dozen times I’ve done it, once it didn’t restore anything, once it restored the data from one of my other phones (the apps were different), once it restored an older copy of the apps (as in, some were there I’d uninstalled a few weeks ago etc) and the other times it has correctly restored the right apps. I’ve never actually had it reinstall the data that came with an app (eg game high scores, notes from a notes app etc) so I’m not sure what the conditions for that “Restore backed up settings and data” option are.

In any case, I would definitely make sure you have a list yourself of all the apps you want to reinstall (there are several apps that will do this for you, including the Play Store links, and I’m not 100% satisfied with any of them, so I’m working on my own which I’ll release in due course!)

7) Choose the “Factory data reset” option.

[Image of “Factory Reset” screen]

8) This takes you to a screen warning you that it will erase everything from your phone’s internal storage, including, Your Google account, System and app data and settings, Downloaded apps, Music, Photos and other user data and reminding you which accounts you are currently signed into. If you wish to continue, press the “Reset Phone” button.

[Image of final reset confirmation screen]

[Image of final reset confirmation screen]

9) You are given one final chance to back out, on a screen which asks you if you want to erase all your personal information and downloaded apps and warning that you cannot reverse this action.

10) If you wish to reset the phone, press the “Erase everything” button.

[Image of phone erasing everything]

[Image of phone erasing everything]

11) The phone reboots, initially showing simply the word “Google” on screen, then changing to a screen with an image of an Android with its back open and the text “Erasing” underneath with a minimal blue progress bar. Then the phone reboots again, and it is as if you were unboxing the phone for the first time. (Move to the next section).


Unboxing your new device:

When you get your new device, the first thing to do is to double check that you have everything that you paid for!

The next step (or perhaps, before that if you are impatient – but it really would be better to find out something was missing NOW before you throw the packaging away than in a couple of days and have to go hunting through the bin), is to turn it on and start playing with it. You do need to go through a couple of setup screens first and I thought I’d present them here so you can get an idea of what you are in for.

Now the process varies from device to device and manufacturer to manufacturer, but what I’m going through here are the steps for a 2012 model Galaxy Nexus phone – even though it’s made by Samsung, because it has the Nexus branding, it’s running the ‘pure’ vanilla Android as it comes from Google. Essentially this is what the other manufacturers (including Samsung for their own branded devices) start with, and they then tinker to make it suit both their hardware and their own ideas of how the phone or tablet should be setup and what options should be available. Being a Nexus, it’s also got most of the updates and is running Android 4.3. Even though Android 5 is out, most of the devices currently available in stores are still running versions of Android anywhere from 4.1 up to 4.4.

[Image of boot animation screen on my galaxy Nexus]

[Image of boot animation screen on my galaxy Nexus]

So here are the steps to go through:

1) Turn it on! This does involve finding the power button, and as I’m trying to make this as generic as possible, I don’t know where it will be on your device. On mine, it’s on the right hand edge, on some it’s on the top, but in any case, it will be a hardware button, even if the others are not.

2) Wait! When you turn the device on for the first time, you will initially see the “Google” logo, or possibly the name of your specific device. Then you will see the boot animation, this will vary from device to device. For my Nexus, it has an “X” with each arm being in a different colour (red, green, blue and yellow) and they alternately pulse brighter. There is no “progress bar”, but this first boot will take longer than usual.

[Image of welcome screen]

[Image of welcome screen]

3) Eventually, a “Welcome” screen will appear, asking which language you want to use. At this point, if you wish to have speech, hold down two fingers on the screen, slightly apart, for about 10 seconds. A voice will announce to keep holding down two fingers to turn accessibility on. Then the device will beep and launch the “Explore by touch” tutorial, which will guide you through the basics of getting around the device using Talkback. If your phone is running an older version of Android (This was introduced as standard in 4.1 but it’s possible some manufacturers may have disabled it, in which case, you’ll need sighted assistance if you can’t see the text or use a physical magnifier).

[Image of explore by touch tutorial]

[Image of explore by touch tutorial]

4) On the welcome screen, the default language selected will be based on the local language for where the device was originally intended. If you buy the phone at a reputable local dealer, this should be your default language, but if you buy the phone online or through a “Grey market” importer, it may be setup differently. I bought a phone online once and even though I’m in Australia, the phone was originally intended for the Belgium market and came to this screen offering French by default. In any case, to change language, swipe up or down with one finger (two if using Talkback) and choose the language you wish to use.

[Image of SIM card warning]

[Image of SIM card warning]

5) Press “Start” (or Next). Because the phone I’m using for this walkthrough is not my main phone, I don’t have a SIM card in it, so at this point I’ve got a warning telling me I should turn the phone off and put a SIM card in otherwise I won’t be able to use most of the phone features. If you are using a phone and it has the SIM card in it already – either pre-installed by the carrier, or by yourself, then you won’t see this, similarly you won’t see it if you are using a tablet which doesn’t take a SIM card (some do, which enables them to access 3G / 4G data as well as Wi-Fi). Anyway, if you get this screen, either turn your phone off and insert a SIM card, or press “Skip”.

[WiFi screen 1]

[WiFi screen 1]

[WiFi screen 2 - add new network]

[WiFi screen 2 – add new network]

[WiFi screen 3 - select security]

[WiFi screen 3 – select security]

[WiFi screen 4 - Type password]

[WiFi screen 4 – Type password]

6) Next you are asked to select a Wi-Fi network. If you have one, it’s a good idea to set it up now, as any system updates or app downloading can then be done over Wi-Fi rather than using 3G / 4G (if your device has a SIM card). Generally it should appear in the list, but if it doesn’t (mine for instance is hidden from view so you have to know it exists and know it’s SSID or name), then you can press the “+ Other network” and add the details in manually. (SSID, security type and password). You should have security on your network and have a password. If you don’t then talk to whoever set your network up, as unsecured networks are very risky.

To type in the information, you are presented with a keyboard which takes up the bottom third of the screen. This is laid out similar to a qwerty keyboard, so if you are familiar with a computer keyboard, this will be similar, albeit smaller. If you are using Talkback, it will announce each letter as you drag your finger across the keyboard, and enter the current letter (or symbol) when you release your finger. The keyboard will be customised to your current language settings, so if you select English UK as your language for instance, one of the symbols on the number page is a Pound Sterling symbol. If you selected English US, the symbol in that place will be a dollar sign. If you use a non-English language then the keyboard may have letters and symbols to suit that (eg accented characters).

[Image of Got Google? screen]

[Image of Got Google? screen]

7) Once you’ve setup your network, the device then asks if you have a Google account. It’s a good idea to connect this now as if you have your account set to auto-restore your apps then it will be able to do that straight away. If you do already have an account, select “Yes”, otherwise select “No” and it will walk you through setting up an account.

[Image of Google login]

[Image of Google login]

8) If you’ve already got a Google account then it will ask you for your (Google) E-Mail address and password. When entering a password, the letters and characters you press are not displayed on screen, rather a dot appears, just as when you type passwords on a computer. If using Talkback, it will read “Dot” for each character. To hear the actual letters, plug in headphones and Talkback will announce the letters, numbers and characters normally, although still display the dots on screen.

[Image of Google TOS]

[Image of Google TOS]

9) The device then gets you to confirm you agree to all the Google terms of service, each of which is a link to open the full terms in your browser if you desire. When you are finished reading, choose “OK”.

[Image of couldn't sign in]

[Image of couldn’t sign in]

[Waiting for code screen]

[Waiting for code screen]

[Google settings on PC]

[Google settings on PC]

[Image of going to account settings on PC]

[Image of going to account settings on PC]

[Setting an app specific password on PC]

[Setting an app specific password on PC]

[Image setting the app specific password]

[Image setting the app specific password]

[Image showing the app specific password]

[Image showing the app specific password]

10) If you are using two factor authentication on your Google account (you should be, it’s much more secure), then you will be prompted to log in online. What it will do at that point is send you an SMS and ask for the code. This is problematic if you are setting up your regular phone, as the phone is not yet in a state where it can receive text messages, so you will either need to have Google send the code to an alternate phone (if you have set one up, eg your spouse’s phone), or be sitting at a computer and log into Google on the browser, go to account settings and “app specific passwords” and generate one for your phone. You will then need to enter the 16 letter password which is displayed on your computer screen on your phone. See the images above for examples. If you like the mouse cursor in those images, you can get it from the 22 Point website cursors page.

[Image of Google services screen]

[Image of Google services screen]

11) Next, you are presented with a screen of account options, including which backup services you would like to use and whether to allow apps to access your location. You can change these later in settings if you wish. The options span more than one screen so you either need to scroll down or press the Next button to view the remainder. Once you are done, press Next.

[Image of entering your name]

[Image of entering your name]

12) The phone then asks for your name so that it can personalise services for you. Enter your first and last name and press Next.

[Image of setup complete]

[Image of setup complete]

13) You are now advised that setup is complete. When you press OK, the phone will automatically download any apps if your account was setup to do that, and also check for any system updates.

[Image of home screen]

[Image of home screen]

14) Finally you are taken to your home screen. By default the screen has:

– A “status bar” at the top with the time, battery level, Wi-Fi and / or 3G signal level, and icons for any notifications.
– The bulk of the screen is your “home” screen which can have icons, widgets and folders on it. Icons are small images which when pressed (double tap with Talkback) will launch whichever app is associated with them. Widgets are like ‘live’ icons – they can be bigger than one icon but have information visible which updates regularly. For instance the icon for a weather app might show an image of the sun. The widget for a weather app will tell you what the current temperatue is and possibly have an image of a sun, or clouds or rain depending on the current weather. Folders allow you to store multiple icons in one place. For instance often there is a “Google” folder with icons to many of Google’s apps (Google+, Gmail, Maps and the Play Store for instance). This section is divided up into a grid which depends on the size of your device but may be 4×4 or may be as large as 6×6 or larger. You can have more than one page or screen worth of icons and widgets and you move between them by swiping left or right (with two fingers for Talkback).
– The bottom row of icons is usually a “Dock”. This row contains icons to launch apps much like the others, only these do not change as you move from screen to screen. By default there are usually icons for the phone and SMS features on phones, and also an “all apps” icon to take you to a list of every app you have installed, and possibly an icon for the browser, play store or other apps.

So that’s a walkthrough of factory resetting and unboxing a device, and also my longest post yet! If you still want more, have a listen to the podcast on this topic and if you still have questions, please ask away in the comments!

Android housekeeping pt 3: Keeping your device in shape

Overview:

We’ve covered security, and keeping your data safe, today I wanted to finish this series of posts with some tips on how to keep your device running smoothly.

 

Turn off unneeded services.

 

By default, devices often come with every feature enabled, from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to having the screen as bright as possible and fancy live wallpapers which can be mesmerising to watch.

 

If you go into settings then battery, you will see what is using your battery the most.  Usually the first item is “Screen” – it is one of the biggest drains on the battery.  You can go into display settings and set the brightness to auto, but an even more battery frugal way is to manually set it as low as you are comfortable with.  If you are a speech only user or want it even dimmer than the dimmest setting, then “Shades” by the Eyes Free project will do it for you and save even more battery:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.googlecode.eyesfree.shades

 

While you are in settings, look at all the switches for the different features and see what else you can turn off.  Bluetooth is a big battery user to have on all the time – ideally only have this one while you are actually using a Bluetooth device.  Various animations and other device specific features (like NFC, Voice control and face detection are also worth turning off if you don’t use them.    Newer versions of Android and some manufacturer’s phones have a notification panel available from the shade, which gives you quick access to turn some of these settings on and off.  If your phone doesn’t, or if you want more, apps like Notification Toggle by J4ELIN is a good option: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.j4velin.notificationToggle

 

 

Monitoring what is running

 

Some of the other big culprits draining battery are apps running in the background, but it’s important to know a little about the different types of running apps before we can identify the battery hogs.

 

Android has two types of programs in memory:

1.       “Cached Processes” are apps which you are using or have used recently, these can be seen from the recent apps list.

2.       “Services” run in the background to periodically perform a task (eg check if you have new email or update the weather widget with the current temperature).

 

Most experts now say that using recent version of Android, cached processes actually aren’t the concern people think they are – Having your news app as a cached process because you checked it earlier but are now playing Sudoku actually simply means that when you finish playing and want to see any breaking news, the app will load much faster for you and in fact use less battery than if the device had to load it completely from scratch.  If you start watching videos and doing other things which need the memory the news app is occupying, then Android will quietly unload it from memory before it gets too full.  If you really want to close something yourself, you can bring up the recent tasks list and swipe it to one side.  (http://www.howtogeek.com/166140/you-dont-need-to-install-a-task-manager-how-to-manage-running-apps-on-android/  ).  Where it might be worth closing a specific app you’ve finished with could be where it is still doing something, for instance a GPS app still constantly keeping your location updated.  Often you can close the app either with an “exit” option if the app has one, or by using the ‘back’ button to get out of it, either of which is a more elegant solution than swiping it out of the recent apps.

 

 

Always running services.

 

Services which periodically do things often can use your battery as well as internet data, and it’s a good idea to at least know what is running like this, not to mention that turning things off will stop your phone annoying you constantly with information you probably didn’t need.

 

The battery item in settings mentioned previously is one way of seeing apps which have used a lot of battery recently.  Any apps listed in that section should be apps you’ve deliberately used for a reasonable period of time recently.

 

If you go into your phone’s settings and choose “Applications” (or Application Manager), there are a number of tabs.  The one we want is called “Running” and as the name suggests, it shows you which apps are currently in memory doing things and gives you another way of “force closing” tasks. (Info on processes and services: http://msaudi.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/thread-vs-process-and-service-in-android-part-1/ ).

 

Task killers are another popular way of seeing the same information, however force closing apps using either of these methods may stop features and services from working so take care.  Also, if the app itself is setup to run in the background then it will only come back.  A much more efficient solution is going into that app, and looking in its settings.  A lot of apps, like Gmail, Facebook and weather apps have “Notification” or “Sync” settings which control how often the app looks for new email or status updates or checks the latest temperature respectively.  You can usually tell the app to check for information “Never” which should stop it sitting in memory, or you can change the frequency interval for checks to a less frequent setting.

 

If you can’t find an option in the app or can’t figure out why it is always running, it is worth emailing the developer to ask them.  If they can’t give a satisfactory answer then it might be worth looking for a replacement app which performs a similar function.

 

Remember also that any widgets and live wallpapers you have on your home screens will always be in memory to update as well, and the only way to stop that is to remove the widget (and for wallpapers, use a static image).

 

If something is constantly running but came preinstalled on your phone, you probably can’t uninstall it.  You may be able to “Disable” however, from the settings – applications screen (tap on the app and choose disable).  That will stop it from running or appearing in your app list.  Be very careful if you disable apps and make sure you know what they do and what the consequences are.

 

 

Backing up your phone

 

How you back up your phone will depend on what data you want to keep.  Some things, like Gmail, your calendar appointments and details about apps you have purchased, are kept in the cloud by Google.  Dropbox, Flicker and Google+ at least can all be used to automatically backup photos you take.

 

Individual app data is another story.   Some apps have facilities to back-up their data and restore it but you really need to check each app you want to backup.  There are apps such as Titanium Backup which offer the ability to backup all your app data, however these apps require your phone to be rooted.  (A couple of articles on backing up: http://www.howtogeek.com/140376/htg-explains-what-android-data-is-backed-up-automatically/ and http://mashable.com/2013/08/22/smartphone-backup/ )

 

Performing a factory reset

 

If you are passing on your phone to someone else, you really want to do a factory reset, to clear all your data off it before handing it over.

 

Remember when you do a factory reset, it will delete ALL the data on your phone – your apps, your high scores in games, your photos, music, any passwords the device remembered and so on, so make sure you have anything you need backed up!

 

While I haven’t seen anything supporting factory reset as a way of speeding up your phone the way reformatting your PC does, it is certainly a way of mass deleting unused apps and freeing space on your phone.  It also makes you think a little about what you have installed and what you need or want to have. (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-news/make-your-old-android-smartphone-as-good-as-new/6209 )

 

 

Summary:

–          Turning off settings you don’t need, lowering screen brightness and using a static background image all help conserve battery.

–          Knowing what apps are running in the background, and looking for “notification” or “sync” settings in apps can save not only your battery and internet usage but also stop your device from constantly trying to get your attention.

–          Making sure your important data is backed up is always a good idea.

–          Performing a factory reset before you pass on your phone will stop that same data being easily accessible to others.