100 Days to Offload, Day 15 – You don't need an app for everything

For the fifteenth day of the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge, I'd like to offer some insights as a former chronic app hoarder.

It may take you 2 minutes to read this post.

This blog post is a response to Freddy's own blog post, “You don't need an app for everything.”

Do you actually need all your apps? I got rid of half of the apps on my phone and am still trying to get rid of others.

I'll confess, before I became a privacy enthusiast, I was a serial app hoarder. I'd read some interesting article about the “best” apps, or find several cool apps promoted on the Google Play Store, and download some. I was careful to double-check reviews beforehand, so I avoided malware, but otherwise I'd sign up for services willy-nilly just for the experience of using their apps.

Then came my personal privacy revolution. I took a good, long look at my apps, and realized that I didn't need most of these ad-riddled, invasive “essentials.” How many social media profiles does a normal person need? Thus, I began uninstalling apps, and deleting accounts from services I barely used. It was long and difficult work, but eventually I whittled down the number of apps on my phone to my true essentials.

Nowadays, most of my apps come from the F-Droid app repository. Keeping the number of apps on my phone low is still an ongoing process: when I see an interesting app... I'll still download it to try it out, but ask myself afterwards if I really want this app. If not, it gets deleted; if I find myself needing that app, I can always re-download it, unless it gets removed from F-Droid for some reason.

Freddy also mentioned:

Apps we use on a daily basis can be replaced with progressive web apps (PWAs); these turn a website into an app on your phone. Do you really need a weather app when a website can do it for you?

Adding another point, inspired by this article: do you really need to check the weather online? Maybe you can put down your phone and turn on the TV, tune in to your local weather station and get today's forecast that way. Instead of a news app, perhaps you can try buying a newspaper [1]. You don't have to do everything on your phone.

Another quote from Freddy's blog post:

There are some [apps] that 'might come in handy in the future'...

Here's a simple rebuttal from another article:

... There’s no reason to hoard those apps on your screen for “just in case” scenarios.

Been there, done that: the moment when a barely-used app “comes in handy” never actually comes.

Consider that each app you install takes some of your focus and time when you use it; being mindful of the apps we use helps especially to prevent our smartphones from being distractions. Let's think about the apps we have on our phones and whether they help us, or are just hoarding disk space.


[1] “But paper increases my carbon footprint!” Well, electronics and the Internet also have carbon footprints. At the very least, paper is renewable.


This work by Daryl Sun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

(July 20, 2020 – Updated the link to Freddy's blog post.)

#100DaysToOffload #digitalminimalism #productivity