6 Android New Year's Resolutions to start 2017 off right

It's time to form some good Android habits.

android new years primary fixed
Ryan Whitwam

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The beginning of a few year is often seen as an opportunity to right some wrongs and try to pick up positive habits. There’s no reason New Year’s resolutions have to be all serious life-changing stuff like losing weight or quitting smoking, though. This is a good time to step back and think about ways to make your Android experience better. Unlike your pledge to hit the gym every day in 2017, here are six Android resolutions you can actually keep.

Stop clearing recent apps

android new years recent

Just don’t do it.

There are times when you need to swipe an app away from the overview screen on Android—maybe it’s crashing or you want to start it fresh. Compulsively clearing all the apps in the list is completely unnecessary, though. Still, some of us just can’t seem to stop doing it. Maybe we are were deeply traumatized by the dark ages of Android when task killers were necessary to have any semblance of good battery life.

Swiping an app away from the recent list only ends the foreground process. Anything that needs to be running in the background will continue working, so you’re not really freeing up any memory. When Android needs RAM, it just clears out old processes anyway. The system is very good at managing this stuff now. All you’re doing is wasting time when you clear your recent apps compulsively. You might even be harming battery life, as your phone needs to work harder to re-launch apps fresh than to just take it out of the background “suspend” state.

Most phones have a button to clear all recent apps; even Google added this to stock Android, but it’s way, way at the top of the list. It’s almost like whoever was told to add the button resented being forced to do it. Take the hint and stop clearing all your apps in 2017.

Set your default apps

android new years default

It’s time to commit.

One of the great things about Android is that you can choose your own default apps for various actions. But… are you actually choosing them or are you tapping “Just once” every time you’re prompted? I think many of us are suffering from fear of commitment when it comes to default apps.

When a default isn’t set, most phones pop up the selection UI at the bottom of the screen. Your most recently chosen app for completing an action is at the top, and you can either tap “Just once” or “Always.” Unless you commit to a default app, you have to do the extra tap every single time. Over the course of a year, that adds up to a lot of wasted time.

So in 2017, how about we make the tough call? Set those default apps. You’ll save loads of time, even if you occasionally have to dig into the settings to change a default. You can always pop into Settings and change your mind later.

Make sure your photos are backed up

android new years backup

If you don’t have a backup, you might as well not have the files at all.

Most of us don’t carry cameras anymore, so all our photos are on a phone. If you’re not backing up those pictures, you’re just asking for trouble. For every person reading this who does back up their photos, there’s probably someone else who doesn’t. You don’t want to be one of those people frantically searching for a way to save their photos after their phone bootloops or the screen cracks.

Backing up your photos is easier than it’s ever been on Android. If you’ve never bothered to set it up, now is the time to do it. The quickest way is the Google Photos app. Simply open it up, confirm that you want your photos backed up, and choose either original or high (compressed) quality. You get unlimited uploads in high quality, but original size counts against your storage limit of 15GB. Pixel phones get unlimited original quality uploads, and you can always buy more storage for other phones if you run out of free space.

If you don’t like Google’s photo tools for some reason, there’s Dropbox. The Dropbox app also has automatic photo backups, but you only get 2GB of free storage on Dropbox. You’ll probably need to upgrade to a paid plan pretty quickly.

Disable and uninstall that stuff you never use

android new years uninstall

Think of it as Android spring cleaning.

How many of the apps in your app drawer actually get any use? There are probably a lot that you keep around “just in case”...but in case of what? It’s so easy to install an app or game that you think sounds cool, but maybe you never get around to trying it. So, it just its there in your app drawer, taking up space and adding to the clutter. Maybe it’s time to get more proactive about ditching the stuff you never use.

It’s not likely you’ll find yourself in a situation where that RSS reader or WiFi analyzer is vitally important, and you also lack internet access to download it from the Play Store. It’s okay—you’ll be able to download it from the Play Store in a few seconds in the event you ever do need it. In the case of non-removable bloatware, go into the settings and disable it once and for all.

The more apps you leave installed, the more you have to scroll through looking for the ones you actually use. Let’s clear out the clutter in 2017.

Set up two-factor authentication

android new years 2fa Ryan Whitwam

Make your account as secure as possible.

Your Google account is the key to your phone, and it can be even more than that if you use Google’s services to create documents or back up your photos (which you should be doing). You should make certain this account can’t be compromised, and the best way to do that is to set up two-factor authorization (2FA). It’s a little bit of a pain, but it’s not as bad as it used to be.

With two-factor enabled, you will need to have access to your phone every time you log into your Google account. To set up 2FA, go to your Google account settings from a browser and open the Sign-in and security menu. You can opt to get one-time use codes via SMS or an authenticator app (Authy is great for this). Google also supports one-tap verification prompts on your verified phone to confirm log-ins.

You should also make sure to print a copy of the backup 2FA codes provided by Google and keep them in a safe place. This will help you access your account in the event you’re locked out. Other services like Dropbox and Facebook support two-factor as well, but start with securing your Google account and see how it goes.

Actually pay for quality apps and games

android new years buy

If we don’t support developers, it’s going to be in-app purchases as far as the eye can see.

Android would not be nearly as cool if not for the efforts of hard-working developers around the world. Sometimes devs see fit to create cool things for free, but they usually want to be compensated for their hard work. A lot of Android users don’t buy apps, but we should be rewarding the developers who create quality items. A few dollars for something you’ll get a lot of use out of is completely reasonable, and it keeps devs in business.

There are a lot of games that use clever psychological ploys to push people into making in-app purchases over and over. It’s only become more common over time because these apps are downloaded much more often than games that just cost a few dollars up-front. Buying a game that doesn’t have in-app purchases every now and then keeps developers interested in making such titles. Otherwise, we’re all going to be stuck paying $0.99 for baskets of gems in every game, eventually.

Remember, Google’s return period was changed to 2 hours a while back. So, you should have a chance to test any app or game you buy. Take a chance in 2017 and support your local Android app developer.

These are just a few ways you can start off 2017 right on Android. You can probably come up with some of your own, and you should. It’s good to have a backup when that daily gym thing doesn’t work out.

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