What NOT to do with your Android device

by: John DyeFebruary 10, 2016
1.9K

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We read a lot about what we should do with our Android devices to get the most out of them. From increasing battery life to managing our data better, there’s no shortage of solid advice around to make our favorite smartphones and tablets faster, more efficient, and more usWhat we don’t see very often is directions on what not to do with Android devices. After all, newbies to the operating system often make a slew of mistakes thinking they’re making improvements.

About a month ago now, Reddit user 19683dw pointed out the fact that there aren’t really many guides out there that attempt to tackle this issue. He and fellow redditors put together a great list of points, and it inspired us to run with his idea and dig a bit deeper. Not every point made in the Reddit thread is mentioned here, and we also added several different points of our own, but we do recommend checking out the original post and wanted to give a big thanks to 19683dw for putting this idea on our radar.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Install apps with unnecessary permissions

Android Marshmallow App Permissions

Why does that flashlight app need to know your GPS location? Actually, why are you even using a flashlight app since Lollipop has built-in functionality for it? Never mind. Look, whenever you download an app, make sure you’re only giving it permission to do things that make sense for the app. Some shady developers like to take advantage of unnecessary app permissions to harvest sellable data about its users. If you’re looking for a basic doodling app and it has 15 permissions it wants to use, you might want to find yourself an alternative digital canvas.

(Oh, and if you are stuck on a version of Android pre-Lollipop, Tesla LED is a good, simple flashlight app.)

Use a task killer

Task killers were useful for about four days back in 2009 before the Android operating system got good enough at managing its own memory to render them irrelevant. Most apps spring back to life anyway if you deliberately kill them, so you’re really just wasting battery power in addition to precious seconds of your finite life-span on Planet Earth.

If your phone is acting sluggish, check out which apps are hogging your resources and uninstall them. Find more efficient alternatives.

Nexus 7 battery on Amplify GreenifySee also: Improve battery life with Xposed, Amplify and Greenify – Android customization28

Greenify is an alternative to task-killers that actually works (it “hibernates” apps rather than kill them) but you really have to have a rooted device for it to be worth it. For most users, the answer is not to kill rebellious apps, but rather to drive them off their devices for good, never to return again.

Install battery saving apps

 

Nexus 7 battery on Amplify Greenify

Most battery saving apps do more harm than good. There are some good ones out there, of course. Once again, Greenify comes to mind. However, battery-saving apps themselves cost battery to run. It’s hard to find those whose positive impact is larger than their own battery footprint. This is especially bad if you’re using multiple battery saving apps. Stop that.

ZTE Blade S6 Plus aa batterySee also: How to extend your Android’s battery life51

Okay, okay. It is technically possible to make good use of a combination of good battery savers. A lot of Lollipop buffs recommend a Power Nap, Greenify, Amplify combo, but you have to have root access to really make the best of these power-frugal hacks.

Get Power Nap
Get Greenify
Get Amplify

For most users, the best way to maximize battery life is to dim your screen and turn off any functions (like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Location) that you aren’t actively using. You can also identify and uninstall battery-hogging apps, like Facebook. Which reminds me of another thing you should never do:

Use the official Facebook app

FacebookDownVote Petenowak2000

Facebook. You will never find a more wretched hive of bugs and drainery. The official Facebook app is renowned for being a legendary resource hog. To get the most out of your Android device, try replacing it with something like Folio. The mobile browser version of Facebook is pretty good anyway, so how much do you really need that app?

Plus, maybe it’s best to put a few extra taps between you and obsessively checking your ex’s page. Seriously, it becomes stalking at some point, and you really just need to move on and stop torturing yourself.

Get Folio
Facebook app uninstallSee also: There is life after Facebook: these are the best Facebook app alternatives67

Expect an Apple-like experience

thumb nexus 6p vs iphone 6s plus aa (1 of 1)

This is crucial advice to people coming into Android from iOS. On Apple products, “everything just works” is the design goal. Android is a completely different ballgame that focuses on making your device your device.

To make the smoothest transition possible, we recommend former iPhone users pick up something from the Nexus line, which is produced by Google. Buying Nexus ensures the most streamlined, Apple-esque experience, especially when you’re using Google apps. You’ll also have all the Android versatility at your fingertips to test the waters of tinkering, customizability, and personalization.

Bottom-line, don’t expect the exact same type of experience, as there will certainly be some adjustment needed. That said, you won’t regret making the switch in the long run.

why i switched to iphone aa (1 of 18)See also: Why I switched to the iPhone…. (and back again)140

Buy Play Store credit to pay for a new phone

Never ever throw hundreds of dollars into Google Play gift cards with the plan to buy a new phone. You might be surprised how often people will pay for $500 of Play Store credit only to learn afterward that they can’t use it to buy a Nexus. Google won’t accept Play credit for devices, so these poor folks are stuck with a hell of a lot of microtransactions to make. At least their Clash of Clans base will be super tricked out soon.

Why won’t Google just take the money? I mean, you want to give it to them, right? They basically already have it! Well, the reason is probably due to the fact that they pay commissions to gift card vendors. This percentage is no problem for apps and such because they can collect a 30% transaction fee, but for more devices, Google would most likely lose a fair chunk of money.

Leave tab merging on for Chrome

GoogleChrome

I imagine the Chrome design meeting had to go something like this.

KYLE: Guys, I have this totally awesome idea.

TEAM LEAD: What is it, Kyle?

KYLE: Okay, you know how Chrome keeps all of its tabs in one place so you can quickly access your previous browsing locations?

TEAM LEAD: Of course.

KYLE: Right. And you know how we now have that new gigantic stack of cards in the Recent Apps function?

TEAM LEAD: Yes?

KYLE: Okay… What if, instead of putting all of our users’ tabs in one place… we scatter them all throughout the Recent Apps cards!

TEAM LEAD: Kyle… That has to be… The most brilliant idea anyone has ever had. We’ll make it the new default setting. A raise for Kyle!

Screw Kyle. Kyle can go die in a fire. Boot up Chrome, tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner, choose Settings, and turn off “Merge tabs and apps.” Return sanity to your internet browsing.

Buy a carrier-branded phone

Samsung-Galaxy-Core-Prime-Verizon-710x498

Maybe saying “never” to do this is a bridge too far, but in most cases, for most people, there are better options. Not only do carriers have a bad habit of loading up their phones with bloatware, they also are notoriously slow at rolling out updates. Buying an unlocked phone at full price may hurt in the short-run, but you’ll actually own your device and you’ll be able to do what you want with it.

This particular issue varies from region to region and from what the user is looking to get out of the device. Some people genuinely don’t care very much about having the latest version of Android, and they actually use that pre-installed, un-installable NFL app on a regular basis. The true advice here is to look before you leap. Know what you’re getting into when you get in bed with a carrier, because although those subsidized phones are tempting, it might not be worth it in the long run.

Root by the seat of your pants

Rooting is playing with fire, which is super cool if you’re like a pyromancer or the Human Torch or something, but for the majority of the population, it’s something best left to the pros. Don’t go into rooting your device unless you’ve extensively read the documentation and you are well aware of the risks and rewards. Practice rooting on an old device you’ve got lying around or on a cheap one first before you start unlocking the bootloader on your $700 flagship smartphone.

Nexus 7 Fastboot bootloader unlocked grouperSee also: Rooting your phone? A few things to think about – Android customization28

This is another look before you leap issue. A misstep in rooting isn’t like a misstep in cooking, where you can make a mistake or two and then say “Screw it, I’m turning this into a stir fry.” Bricking your phone is very possible, and in some cases startlingly easy. Have an experienced friend walk you through your root process at the very, very least.

Of course, there are plenty of rewards to rooting, just be certain you know what you’re getting into.

Conclusion

These are all the Don’ts we can think of when it comes to using Android devices. Anything you can think of that we left out, or do you have anything to add to any of these points? If so, let us know your tips in the comments!

banner-how-to-use-taskerNext: How to use Tasker19
  • Chris

    Saldy too many people are stupid that they do t understand why most apps need certain permissions.

  • legendlord4751

    How about: Don’t let relatives use their phones without adblock. My sister had to factory reset her phone because she got loads of viruses from malware ads. (or just tell them to stop being stupid enough to click the ads, that works too)

  • missmotta

    Thank you so much for the advice on how to change the tabs back to normal in Chrome! Holy crap that was driving me insane and I didn’t know how to switch it back.

    • Andrew Grush

      Yah, damn Kyle and his Chrome tabs idea! :)

  • WhoaManWtF

    To be fair the free NFL app for Verizon users is pretty awesome.

    • ePoch 270

      It sucks. Note 3 and it crashes CONSTANTLY. Takes forever to update scores. No fantasy integration. Straight up BLOATWARE.

    • Nate Harris

      Absolute crap.

      • WhoaManWtF

        It worked well on my note 5 and I watched niners games, disabled it by default but used it randomly until I got my Nexus and sold the note. I understand if you don’t like it but it worked well and didn’t crash at least for me so I wouldn’t call it crap.

  • arvsep

    Oh god I needed that Chrome tip like I needed bacon. You just saved me.

    • PC_Tool

      Yep. That, and folio. Good stuff.

    • John William Dye

      Glad to help!

      • Peeta Mellark

        Gotta love your sense of humor… lol

    • LeVvE

      Chrome Custom Tabs works with this now as well so no reason to use the merged tab crap.

  • Emmet

    That picture of the battery life shows 11am and then 12am and then 1pm…that makes NO sense. The clocks go from 11am to 12PM and then 1pm.

    • mcdonsco

      That was the next day, look at the top.

      • Emmet

        Still makes no sense. Clocks don’t go from 11am to 12am, ever unless it was charging for 13 hours.

        • In-fact, that was off the charger for 13 hours. The numbers are unfortunately confusing, but I was showing how my old Nexus 7 (rooted, with Amplify and Greenify, running Lollipop, so no Doze mode) went 13 hours on battery only losing 2%.

          • Emmet

            What?! I need to root now!

          • Just keep in mind that this is all stand-by time. Screen off, device not in use. I mean, it’s an approx 350% improvement for my device, but the screen-on time battery life I’ve only noticed like a 4% battery life improvement. Well worth it for a device that mostly sits unused, it’s great to still have juice after not actively using it for a few hours.

            But I don’t think I’d do this to my main phone, a Lollipop device with Doze. Risk is not worth the gain for me there. Just a few things to think about.

  • teomor

    Yeah, sorry, but lots of stuff missing from the mobile Facebook site. Like long tapping on notifications and turning them off. Especially useful for event notifications, which are driving me nuts!

  • Armaan Modi

    Loved that “Kyle can go die in fire”. LOL.BTW,TeamAA thank you for posting such useful articles,and also so many of them. I love the fact that you post news about all the companies and regions, not just the US.

  • InfDaMarvel

    Separating chrome tabs is on of the first things I always do.

  • mcdonsco

    Too bad the most recent chrome update made the colored address bar permanent; you can no longer disable that by disabling tab merging.

    Sucks, now I’m stuck on an older version just so I don’t have to see that distracting crap in chrome.

    • Mohamed Salim

      What do you mean the coloured notification bar on websites is cool at least I will not always be ugly black

    • LeVvE

      I love it, I hope they add it to the desktop as well.

  • joe

    Damn Kyle always screwing things up.

  • Prashant Thakur

    please correct the “4 days” thing, or is it just foR fun ??;)

  • Kody

    Damn Kyle. Took friggin forever to figure that out. Btw love your writing, it’s entertain, informative, and hilarious. The section about rooting was gold.

    • John William Dye

      Thank you! They say a writer can live a month off a compliment, so it looks like I’m set through early March :)

  • EeZeEpEe

    For people like my wife and parents who don’t realize Chrome has all these tabs open, I prefer to leave the merge on. That way they can swipe away old tabs. Without the merge, they would have 50+ tabs waiting for them and have no idea.

  • Falenone

    For anyone who needs good crap cleaner. Uninstall the shitty Clean Master and every other Cheetah Mobile (CM) app you may have and download cCleaner.

  • Tim Austin

    Root has been patched on many older devices. Roms have stopped being updated. The root experience on older devices that you have not experienced from the beginning is subpar. Much better off getting a nexus device that is almost unbrickable or at the very least a new device with a active development community. I’ve rooted and run cm on every device I’ve owned. Droid 2 global, gnex, razor HD, s4, note 2 nexus 6, many tablets. It can be a wonderful experience.

  • gilbert supeno

    i agree with the chrome tabs (with the article i mean, not kyle). but sometimes it is useful for me, like when i want to use my samsung’s dual-window from 2 different chrome tab, just like using in pc

  • Nick

    I used to hate tabs in the recent apps, but recently I’ve come to like it, specially with the Galaxy multi window features haha

    Also rooting is in most cases an extremely simple procedure, just read and follow the instructions and don’t think you’re the smart-ass who can do it without reading or that if you do x or y it will be cooler. Stick to the instructions please and nothing will go wrong ;)

  • Rohit Raja

    Never Buy Cheap Android experience… go for a proper mainstream device sporting quality and performance.

  • just an FYI, but the PowerNap app linked to in this article is not the PowerNap you want. That one requires you join the Google+ group and become a tester, which is basically impossible now, because the dev never updates members, and doesn’t want the APK distributed.

  • Mark Drummond

    I would like CM13 on my LG V10.

  • McLaren F1P1

    I also hate Kyle and his mediocrity from day one!

  • sri charan

    I like this guy…This is a fun article to read….

    I root and install xposed after a month or two of buying a new phone….reading that no root tip makes no sense…
    Now a days with dedicated xda threads and easier root methods, it’s easy and very useful….

  • Nate Harris

    I have complained about that Chrome tab issue since day one.

    Also, little edit, the NFL app is un-uninstallable. To hell with Big Red.

  • Eugene Jan Parcon

    The link does not work to get Folio. :( Help guys . thank you very much. I really think I needed it