Digital Detoxing, Apple Event, 9/11

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Digital Detox: A Minimalist’s Guide to Decluttering Your Smartphone

With the Apple event happening last week and my upgrading (read more below), I started cleaning out my current phone in preparation for a smooth and quick switch. But before we dive too deep, I’d like to suggest a change in our culture and language. “Phone” should default to “mobile phone” or “cell phone” and we should begin to specify landline, office phone, desk phone, etc., moving forward. So… spread the news in dictionaries nationwide. That said, your phone is an extension of your personality: it stores your personal information, it acts as entertainment, it replaces much of a wallet or purse with pictures, payment methods, and contact information, and much, much more.

Using some basic principles from The Minimalist, I believe we can apply similar practices to our phones. Check out their special on Netflix and the full documentary on YouTube.

For one, use the 90/90 Rule when deciding to keep an app installed. Have you used the app in the last 90 days, or will you use it in the next 90 days? If the answer is no, you may feel free to delete it or move on to see if it’s worth keeping. For example, I came across the Chick-fil-A and Jimmy John’s app and almost deleted them. But I can guarantee I have eaten their or will eat there in the past or future 90 days, and I need my points!

Next, did you spend too much for that app and can’t seem to delete it? Some purchases should be viewed as a sunk cost. Even then, they’re always available for download even if you delete it. I spent $10 on Super Mario Run and beat it. I got my monies worth and haven’t played it in a long while. More on this app below, too. I also spent I think $15 at the time on an app called Duet Display to allow my iPad to become a second monitor on my laptop. It worked and still works great. However, I haven’t used it since going back into the office full time.

Now we look at app and data size. To do this on an iPhone, go to Settings, General, and iPhone Storage. For example, I had some video editing software still installed from years ago taking up 4.5 GB I don’t think I used more than 3 times. Deleted. Next, what about apps you use on a regular basis? For example, my Amazon app install is taking up roughly 2 GB of data. Yes, that’s a lot and way more than it should. Simply delete the app and reinstall and login. Now, it’s back down to 260 MB - much more manageable. Anything over 500 MB should be up on the chopping block.

How about multimedia apps? Streaming, music, podcast, audiobooks? If you have the room and want everything available, cool. But if you’re stretched for space, consider checking these apps out frequently to remove watched or listened to media. Worst case, they may have cached data that could be cleared by a delete and reinstall.

Then comes those one-off apps. I’m thinking that one restaurant, hotels, airlines, those types of apps. There are two schools of thought here. One, they are small enough they’re not causing any trouble. Two, they are very rarely used and provide more digital clutter. I lean toward deleting them for an extra reason. If you use the app so infrequently, chances are you will have to perform a password reset anyway. And, you probably have to update the app, too. So why not just remove it and start fresh when the time comes? You can always download and prepare in advance if going on a trip, too!

Lastly, games. I generally stopped playing games on my phone in lieu of reading, watching or listening to other media, and yes - social media, too. However, I know some have to play their games. Especially those that — require — you to play daily: Monopoly Go, Wordle, or Coffee Golf. But think of the kids! As mentioned, mine don’t play games on my phone. They have their own tablet and if they didn’t bring it with them, welp! And I can hear you now. “Garrett, that’s easier said than done.” Maybe, but I’ve said it multiple times already and sticking to my guns! Absolute worst case, set your phone in Guided Access mode and let them watch a video of sorts.

Enjoy your fall/spring cleaning!

ICYMI: Apple September Event

Last week, Apple held their annual fall iPhone event. Usually, there are other devices shared with updates, but there’s never a guarantee what that is from Apple until it’s game time. I still say wait to buy a MacBook at least until the end of November for holiday shopping.

On the list of hardware devices announced or updated include: iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max; Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2; USB-C on everything; and FineWoven cases to replace their leather accessories.

In regard to the iPhone lineup, the 15 and 15 Plus are mostly speed upgrades using the 14 Pro’s internals. They do receive the “Dynamic Island” to replace the current notch and come in five colors. The Pro lineup is built out of titanium, includes an action button to replace the mute switch (this mimics the button on the Ultra Watch), and also includes internal upgrades - including pretty substantial camera upgrades. The kicker here is this - if you have a phone ready for an upgrade on AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, you may be able to trade your current phone in and receive up to $1,000 credit towards a new phone. Making this a no-brainer if you have a phone 3 or more years old. The kicker is you must be on a certain plan and the credit is given towards your bill over a certain number of months (usually 24). Full disclosure, I traded in an iPhone 8 towards my iPhone 12 three years ago and took advantage of the same offer. I now am trading in my iPhone 12 towards an iPhone 15 and receiving $830 in credit while on the unlimited AT&T plan. Your mileage may vary.

The Apple Watch updates include a newer chip to find your lost phone when it’s three times farther away. Personally, I have never used this feature anyway, as I just ping my phone or watch when needed.

Lastly, iOS 17 is now available for download and has a ton of new features. In my opinion, there’s nothing necessarily groundbreaking compared to previous versions, but my few favorite updates include: Downloadable Offline Maps, Interactive Widgets, Standby Mode, and the announced Journal App (something not even available in the beta). If you aren’t one to usually gawk over updates, I suggest waiting a week or so until the first updates are released before upgrading.

Still no mention of their own ChatGPT-like app, though.

Check out all the new devices at Apple.com

POTW: 9/11 Stories and Documentaries

Last week was the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks. While there have been many great resources in regard to documentaries and stories to be told, I wanted to share a few I saw make the rounds last week: