The combination of novelty, a (usually) low price and an industry that has no shortage of innovation means we have opportunities to get new apps almost daily. The end result is app overload. Too much clutter. Memory wasted on apps that were cool on Christmas morning, but now lie at the back of the closet, unused and unloved. This is not what one wants. Here's how to keep apps at a number that’s usable and not overwhelming:
Apple’s app folders for the iPhone in the iOS 4 operating system is useful. If one is not familiar with this little tweak, it’s simple. Press and hold an app icon until all apps are shaking. Now drag one app on top of another that you’d like to group together. A folder will be created with the two apps in it. The iPhone preselects a name for this folder (for example, the Instagram and Old Camera apps may spawn a folder called “Photography”), but you can change it to whatever you like by clearing the title bar and typing your own label. Once you’ve set up a folder, you can add more apps to it, up to 12.
On phones running the Android 4.0 operating system, you create a new folder the same way; on older models, you tap and hold the home screen to create a folder and then name it. Once you’ve named it, you can drag and drop app icons into it.
Windows Phone 7 users are out of luck. There’s no native support for folders, but there are some third-party fixes like “Folders For Windows Phone Mango” from Windows Phone Hacker.
Respect the folder cap
No folder can hold more than 12 apps in iOS and 16 in Android. In many cases, that’s fine; the banking folder on ones iPhone may have only six or seven apps in it, for example. But the news folder is always full. So, observe the one-in, one-out rule.
Stay on one screen
Apple has 20 places for icons and folders on its home screen, and each can contain 12 apps. One Apple app, Newsstand, can neither be deleted nor put in a folder, so the number of folder spaces is really 19, or room enough for 228 more apps. But 24 additional Apple apps also cannot be deleted (though they can be put into folders), so you really have room for only 204 additional apps on one screen. If you have more than 204 apps, you have too many apps. Android users have room for as many as 320 apps before they need to swipe screens.
Use it or loose it
There’s an old rule about clothes and maintaining an orderly closet: if you haven’t worn something in a year, get rid of it. The same is true of apps. That walking guide of Paris that you downloaded was great two years ago, the last time you were in Paris. Now, it’s just taking up space. To get rid of an iOS app, press the icon until it starts shaking. Then tap the “x” in the corner to delete it from your phone. Android users can use a similar method on recent versions of the operating system; on earlier versions, they have to go into the settings to find the “manage apps” screen.
Dont worry about app loss
Remember that apps exist on your phone, on your PC and in the cloud. If you change your mind and want to restore an app you used to have, you can do it straight from your phone.
In iOS, go to the App Store, click on Updates, then click on “Purchased.” You’ll see every app you have on your device, but you’ll also see a tab for “Not On This iPhone/iPad.” Click that, and you’ll have a list of every app you’ve ever bought from Apple. You can restore any one to your device just by clicking on it. Since you already paid for them, you won’t be charged again.
In Android, go to the Google Play Store app and go to “My Apps.” You’ll see every app you ever bought and can restore from there. But free apps are not stored in My Apps after you delete them. You’ll have to go back to the app store page and reload them.
Keep some apps seperate
The schedule for your bus commute is one that you keep as a dedicated icon on your home screen. If you are having a drink after work and need to decide whether to get another round or start making your way to the bus terminal, you don’t like to waste time going through layers to find out if you can have another Negroni.
The same is true of basic functions like the phone, calendar and iTunes apps; You want those at the ready. Does it cut down on your overall app capacity? Sure.
2012 The New York Times News Service