I love a clean start. There’s nothing like the feel of a smartphone (or PC) after a factory reset.
I’m using my Nexus 5 for almost a year now. For a while, I’ve been wanting to do a factory reset and start clean. The upcoming Lollipop upgrade is exactly the push I needed to do it.
My game plan:
- Before upgrading:
- Perform general app cleanup, so I upgrade only with the apps I want.
- Document my settings and configuration (system and apps), so I can re-apply it if needed.
- Backup data.
- After upgrading:
- Restore apps, data, settings and configuration, as needed.
- Explore what new built-in features can replace 3rd party apps I’m using. I always prefer built-in over 3rd party.
In this post, I document the app-cleaning step. Over time, I installed more than a few apps (112 to be sort-of-exact). I’m sure many of them go unused, or even worse – unused and also run in the background. Before upgrading, I want to cut down the installed apps to those that I actually want installed.
I’m sort-of relying on the Google Play feature that reinstalls apps after a factory reset. If it works, I get only the apps I want restored. If it doesn’t work, I have a list of apps I want to reinstall.
Communication / IM / Social
Feedly. Easily my most used app. After the demise of Google Reader, Feedly is my RSS reader of choice.
Pocket. My favorite place to hold the thousands of posts and articles I promise myself I’ll read some day O_o .
Google Chrome. My preferred mobile (and desktop) browser. If only the mobile version supported multiple profiles, like desktop…
Hangouts. My preferred SMS & IM client. When will it support SMS on desktop..?
WhatsApp. Another IM client with actual people on it. Too bad it doesn’t have a desktop client…
Gmail. Because Email is not dead.
Skype. VoIP that works.
WordPress. Helps managing my WordPress-powered-site on the move. I use it mostly to approve comments and write quick replies.
Buffer. So I can share stuff to multiple social networks with one click.
MightyText SMS. Allow composing, receiving, and replying to SMS from the PC. It could do it better though. Once Google Hangouts does it, I’ll switch.
Droidicious Free (delicious). A delicious.com client, because for some reason I still keep bookmarks sometimes.
I also use the stock Google contacts and dialer apps.
Entertainment / Media / Video
Google Play Music. My secondary music player, when I don’t want to interfere with Poweramp.
Yatse, the XBMC Remote. So much better than the official XBMC remote. Simply works.
Plex for Android. Part of my research on moving to Plex media server. WIP.
MortPlayer Audio Books. For audio books that don’t come through Audible. Supports remembering position in multiple books simultaneously.
Streambels AirPlay Chrome DLNA. Stream media from the phone to an enabled big screen (e.g., my XBMC powered HTPC). I hoped it would work better than it does. It sometimes makes my XBMC freeze. It sometimes fails streaming local content. But when it works it’s great. Not sure it worths the $5 though.
xkcdViewer. Hurray! xkcd!
YouTube. Because, well, YouTube.
Google Now Launcher. My preferred launcher.
Google Calendar. My Preferred calendar app.
HabitBull Habit Tracker. Simple app to track habits on a daily basis (or other schedules). I’m using it to stop biting my nails, and run 3 times a week.
Remote Keyboard. The only “alternative keyboard” I use. It allows using my laptop keyboard with the phone, by connecting to it via Telnet. Not bad, but doesn’t work with Hebrew.
Quickoffice. Not sure I need it though.
Inbox. Latest addition to my arsenal of so-called productivity apps. I’m exploring it. We’ll see what it can replace.
Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks. One of the candidates for my GTD tasks app. WIP.
Trello. Another candidate for GTD tasks app. WIP.
Todo.txt. Another candidate for GTD tasks app. WIP.
Remember The Milk. Another candidate for GTD tasks app. WIP.
Google Keep. Another candidate for GTD tasks app, and also a great quick-note-taking app.
DashClock Widget. Replacement lock screen clock widget with tons of features. Maybe Lollipop will make it redundant. Until I find out, I use it along with a couple of extensions:
- DashClock Contact Extension, so I can call Oogi straight from the lock screen.
- AppLauncher for DashClock, so I can launch Evernote and Keep with one click.
- Evernote Dashclock Extension, for Evernote reminders and one-click access.
Pushbullet. Priceless! Along with the Chrome extension, it mirrors notifications, and allows transferring links and media with a click.
Our Groceries Shopping List. Solves the eternal shared groceries list problem! And does it well! Support syncing multiple lists, including checked off items. We actually use it to do “distributed shopping” without duplicates! And not just groceries, also checklist for baby diaper bag and such.
FolderSync. Simple sync between local storage and cloud storage services. I use it to upload local backups to the cloud on a schedule.
Maps & Navigation
Waze. I don’t like the app, but when it works it does it well.
Google Maps. My preferred maps app.
RMaps. For offline maps when I go abroad. Couldn’t find it on the Play store…
Moovit. Live subway & bus info. I almost never use it, but when I need public transportation – it’s useful!
Google Earth. Why not?
Bubble Popping For Babies / Save Marine Animals. The twins are still too young for phone games, but they’re already trying to eat our phones. I started looking for games they can play on the phone, to keep them out of the actual phone.
Baby Color Smasher. Another one.
Authy 2-Factor Authentication. Great 2-factor auth app. Because 2-factor auth is important!
Exchange Rates. Simple currency converter.
Financial Calculator. Because when I want to do some compound interest calculation, opening a spreadsheet is an overkill, and the random online financial calculator is the son of satan. This app may be butt ugly, but it knows how to do some annoying math for me.
System Tools & Tweaks
Android Device Manager. Because everybody should install it!
Silence Premium Do Not Disturb. The pro version of Do Not Disturb. Finally an app that does it well! Pulls availability information from multiple calendars, and automatically sets vibrate/silent-mode. Also supports schedule (night mode), and “emergency bypass” for selected contacts and/or multiple incoming calls from same contact. Worths the pro upgrade.
SMS Backup & Restore. Simple app to backup and restore SMS (surprise) on a schedule.
Call Logs Backup & Restore. Simple app to backup and restore call logs (surprise) on a schedule.
GPS Status & Toolbox. Because sometimes it helps my GPS get a lock. Sometimes it doesn’t. Ugh.
Google Cloud Print. Because printing from the phone is so futuristic! O_o
Tasker, the insanely powerful (and complex) automation tool, along with these plugins:
- Action Box, which I use to control Poweramp with Tasker.
- Secure Settings, which I use to create shortcuts for toggling WiFi hotspot, and quickly changing lock screen modes (PIN / password / none).
Trigger. Another automation tool. Simpler than Tasker. I use it for NFC-triggered automation.
ES File Explorer File Manager. My preferred file manager.
IT / Sysadmin
vSphere Mobile Watchlist. Because I manage VMware ESXi servers.
Google Admin. Because I manage a Google Apps environment.
AWS Console. Because I use AWS.
Fing Network Tools. I don’t use it often, but when I need to figure out what’s on the network, it proves useful.
3G/4G/WiFi Maps & Speedtest. Nice network tool. Not used often, but might be useful.
OpenVPN Connect. The official OpenVPN Android client. Because I use VPNs.
Microsoft Remote Desktop. Remote into Windows computers. So much fun!
TeamViewer for Remote Control. To remote into computers with TeamViewer. Weee.
Fitness & Health
Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro. My preferred sport tracker.
Maccabi Healthcare Services. Because it’s my healthcare service provider, and as much as their app sucks, I’d take it over calling them.
Twilight. Reduces blue light emission after sunset. Supposedly improves sleep quality.
Camera / Scanner / Graphics
Google Camera. I use the camera fairly often. The stock Google camera serves me well. I saw no reason to explore third party camera apps.
Google Goggles. My preferred QR code scanner. It’s also fun to take pictures of the kids on a Disney play-mat, and get notifications about recognizing Donald Duck in a photo I took.
Skitch. Easy and simple image markup.
10 Bis. Order in food using my 10bis account. It works.
MyScript Calculator. Because it’s fun to use free hand writing to do math!
Note: To make sure these apps don’t get reinstalled automatically later, I uninstall them and also remove them for “My apps” list in Google Play.
Entertainment & Content
Earbits Music Discovery Radio. Nice free Internet radio music streaming and discovery app. Used for a while. Lost interest.
Tresorit. The secure (encrypted) syncing cloud storage service. Never used on mobile. Not even sure what I store there.
Evernote Hello. I’m anti-social, so no use for this one 😉 .
Unified Remote. Control PC from the phone. Not sure why I’d want something like that.
DashClock Music Extension. Because the music players already integrate with the lock screen.
DashClock Dial Extension. Redundant. The contact extension does it and more.
Fitness & Health
Headache Diary Lite. Still have headaches, but the app is not good enough to buy the pro, and the free one is limited to 10 entries.
Google Authenticator. My previous 2-factor auth app. Finished migrating to Authy.
System Tweaks & Tools
Andmade Share. The alternative system “share menu”. Thought it was useful, but apparently I wasn’t actually using it for a while. Didn’t even notice.
Fast Reboot. Never used it. Supposedly restarts system applications to improve performance, without actually restarting the device. No root needed.
ezNetScan. Wireless network scanner. Got Fing for that.
SMS Backup & Restore Network Add-On. No need for it. FolderSync does it instead.
Camera / Scanner / Graphics
Pixlr Express – photo editing. Photo editor. Not really doing much of it on the phone. Skitch is good enough for my needs.
Text Fairy OCR. Takes pictures and extracts text. Sort-of works, but not the user experience I was looking for.
Barcode Scanner. Another one. Got Google Goggles for that.
Bitbeaker. A truly awful Bitbucket client.
Noticeably Missing Apps
A couple of apps I had in the past, but stopped using a while ago in favor of their mobile websites:
- Facebook (why so many permissions and such bad performance?! the mobile website is so much better)
- Israel Rail (website is terrible, but app is even worse)
- Twitter (couldn’t find any client app that I liked 🙁 )
- Alternative keyboards (I had maybe 10 of those. With Nexus 5, I switched to the Google keyboard)
In total, I got rid of 17 apps in this cleanup round. That’s not much, at a little over 10%, but I do feel that I actually use the remaining 95 apps.
BTW, I counted apps in this post with a little Python snippet that counts RegEx matches for URLs of the form “https://play”. I probably lost a couple of apps with no URLs. CBA.