In the commentary below you can find the ideas of Baidu’s senior marketing manager Josh Fenn about the optimizing smartphones for the holidays.

How to optimize your smartphone for the holidays
How to optimize your smartphone for the holidays

What is your advice for users hoping to get the most out of their smartphones?

All smartphones — even the shiniest, modern ones — are held back by two bottlenecks that arise from limitations in engineering: battery capacity and storage capacity. Storage capacity is predicted to keep increasing in line with Kryder’s Law (an analog for Moore’s Law in terms of storage). Likewise, breakthroughs in battery life always seem to be on the horizon. However, neither of these areas have yet borne fruit in a way that’s meaningful to the average smartphone user.

As storage space increases, so does the size of our apps, photos, and videos — so we never feel like we have enough space on our phones. And as battery life improves, we consume it faster and faster with resource-intensive apps. It’s a never-ending marathon, with the finish line constantly being moved just out of reach.

For smartphone users to break free of this cycle, they need to identify the apps on their phone that are consuming the most power and either delete them or better manage them to conserve battery life. Some power-hungry apps might be silently running in the background without the user’s knowledge.

To ensure that phone storage space doesn’t get used up too quickly, users should manually backup their photos and videos to a computer on a regular basis, and at the same time delete them from their phone. They should also regularly clean up web browser cache and temporary files that accumulate from daily app usage.

Which apps are most useful for this?

App power consumption is not very transparent to the end-user. It’s better to use a tool that can monitor the power usage of all apps on a device, and give a readout as to which are the worst offenders for front-end and back-end battery consumption. There are built-in system tools on Android that can help. Unfortunately, these tools don’t allow a user to monitor battery consumption and shut down apps at the same time. Baidu has a tool called DU Battery Saver that can perform both of these functions.

In terms of storage capacity, it is likewise very tedious for users to manually clean up the cache and temporary files left behind by their apps. To do this, users would have to individually check the settings of each app and remove superfluous files. DU Speed Booster is a tool that we made to help with this — it does all the cleanup (as well as antivirus protection) within a single app.

How should smartphone use be different during the holiday season, if at all?

One thing that we can expect is (unfortunately) an increase in scam and telemarketing calls. Exploitative calls always increase around the holiday season. It’s good to be alert and aware of what’s at stake. Scam calls aren’t just annoying — they can also result in financial loss and even identity theft. A group of fraudsters posing as IRS agents recently scammed 15,000 people out of a combined $300 million. Baidu actually has a new security app called DU Caller that just did a study on scam calls in the U.S. The product team found that roughly one in every seven calls in the U.S. was from a known scam/telemarketing number. Scary, right?

Are there any common misconceptions around optimizing devices that users should be aware of?

A lot of people think that because smartphones are very high-tech, they don’t need to maintenance them the same way they would anything else. That’s partially true. But a certain amount of upkeep is still necessary. Occasionally cleaning up files on your phone or stopping background apps can bring big gains in efficiency.