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8 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Smartphone

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Much like computers, smartphones can start to slow down after years, or even months, of use. However, there are some ways to keep your iOS and Android devices running as good as new until you have to upgrade. Here are eight simple ways to speed up your smartphone.

1. UPDATE YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM.

If your smartphone is running slower than usual, then your operating system (or OS) might not be up-to-date. Having the latest version of iOS or Android on your phone is the best way to ensure it works at its zippiest. Just make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi and backed up before you update your phone’s software, and make sure that your phone can handle it. Newer operating systems might not be optimized for older or lower-cost phones.

iPhone: Go to “Settings,” then “General,” and then “Software Update.”

Android: Go to “Settings,” and then “About Phone.” Tap “System Updates” or "Software Updates" at the top of the screen to check if you have any Android updates.

2. REDUCE MOTION AND ANIMATION.

Animations might look cool when transitioning from one app to another, but they can really slow down your phone, as they use up space and resources. Disabling animations on both Androids and iPhones can be tricky, but it’s worth it to make your device run faster.

iPhone: On iPhones, there is a setting to reduce motion by going to “Settings,” then “General,” and then “Accessibility.” If you have yet to update to iOS 9.3.2 (there are probably a few of you out there) there is a convoluted way of disabling all animations, but that bug was patched in later updates.

Android: Your phone has to be in developer mode to disable animations. To do so, go to “Settings,” then “About Phone.” Find  “Build Number” and continuously tap the option until you’re granted “Developer Mode.” Go back to “Settings” and “Developer Options” to find “Window Animation Scale,” “Transition Animation Scale,” and “Animator Duration Scale.” Set all three options to “Off.” Then you might need to restart your phone (although this has been known to create glitches, so be careful).

3. GET RID OF WIDGETS.

If you’re an Android user, stop using widgets on your home screens. While widgets are useful for quickly giving you info at a glance, they are serious data hogs. Many widgets constantly refresh in the background to find new information and updates, so if you don’t need it, you should probably delete it.

4. STOP USING LIVE WALLPAPER.

Live wallpaper is a fun feature to show off your new smartphone, but much like widgets, they eat up a lot of memory and battery life. Over time, live wallpaper will slow down your phone and kill its efficiency. If you have a high-end Android with an AMOLED display and want to speed up your phone and save some battery life at the same time, use solid color wallpaper, preferably all-black, to reduce pixel activity and divert resources elsewhere.

5. AUTOMATICALLY CLEAR MESSAGES AFTER 30 DAYS.

One place few people ever think of clearing space is in iMessage and other text messaging apps. If you have more than 1GB of text messages slowing down your phone, it’s probably a good time to clear them out to make your device run faster. Luckily for iPhone users, you can set iMessage to clear old messages every 30 days. It’s recommended that you archive your text messages to iCloud if you still want to keep them.

Go to “Settings,” then “Messages,” and finally “Keep Messages” to pick the 30 days option.

Unfortunately, there is no such option for Android devices, so you’re going to have to delete messages in bulk manually (although there is an option under "Settings" to delete old messages when storage gets low).

6. ENABLE WI-FI ASSIST.

When you’re using a spotty Wi-Fi signal, Wi-Fi Assist for iPhone can help you transition to data without missing a beat. It’s built into iOS 9 and higher (for most devices) and it’s pretty useful when you can’t keep a strong enough Wi-Fi connection. It also helps your iPhone’s performance and battery life, so it doesn’t constantly look for a good signal when you’re out of range.

Go to “Setting,” and then “Cellular,” and toggle “Wi-Fi Assist” to on. It’s smart enough to not turn on for big downloads, but it’s still a good idea to keep track of your data usage as some users have complained of unexpected overages.

7. ADJUST BACKGROUND APP REFRESH SETTINGS.

A lot of email, weather, and location apps work in the background, even if you’re not using them—and they’re constantly and automatically refreshing without you even noticing. However, you can adjust and tweak all of your apps so that they only refresh to get new information when you choose.

iPhone: First it’s a good idea to turn off "Find My iPhone" by going to “Settings,” then “iCloud,” and turn off "Find My iPhone." Then go back to “Settings,” and then “General.” Pick “Background App Refresh” and turn off any app that you don’t need to speed up your iPhone.

Android: Go to “Settings,” and then “Data Usage.” Tap the menu icon and find “Restrict Background Data.” Now your Android device will only refresh its apps when you think it’s necessary.

8. INITIATE A FULL RESET AND FACTORY RESET.

When all else fails and all the tips above didn’t make your smartphone work any faster, then your only choice is to initiate a full or factory reset. This will restore your phone to the first day you bought it with a clean OS, but with all the current firmware updates. But be warned: a factory reset will wipe out all of your photos, music, text messages, apps, and any important files you might have on your smartphone. It will also get rid of all the junk that’s bogging your phone down too, but you’re going to have to start over again. It’s highly recommended that you backup and encrypt all of your data before you choose to reset your iPhone or Android device.

iPhone: Go to “Settings,” then “General,” and then “Reset.” Tap “Erase All Content and Settings” and confirm with your password. You can also perform a Factory Reset with iTunes under the “Restore Phone” tab when you plug your iPhone into your computer.

Android: Go to “Settings,” then “Backup and Reset,” and tap “Factory Data Reset.” Tap “Reset Phone” and confirm with your password. Finally, tap “Erase Everything” and your Android device will reboot to the condition when you first took it out of its box.

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The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images
John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images

After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Big Questions
What Are Those Tiny Spots on Apples?
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The little pinprick spots on apples, pears, and potatoes are called lenticels (LEN-tih-sells), and they’re very important.

Plants need a constant stream of fresh air, just like people, and that “fresh air” means carbon dioxide. Flowers, trees, and fruit all take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. But unlike people, plants don’t have nostrils.

That's where a plant's lenticels come in. Each little speck is an opening in the fruit or tuber’s skin or the tree’s bark. Carbon dioxide goes in, and oxygen comes out. Through these minuscule snorkels, a plant is able to “breathe.”

Like any opening, lenticels are vulnerable to infection and sickness. In an apple disease called lenticel breakdown, a nutrient deficiency causes the apples’ spots to darken and turn into brown pits. This doesn’t hurt the inside of the fruit, but it does make the apple look pretty unattractive. In the equally appealing “lenticel blotch pit,” the skin around the apple’s lenticels gets patchy and dark, like a weird rash. 

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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