New Tricks for Old Apps

When the iPhone landed in 2007, Apple’s preinstalled apps for weather, stocks and a calculator were pretty basic. Once the more versatile third-party apps hit the scene a year later, it was easy to forget about those default offerings. Over time, though, Apple and Google have added many fresh features to those old apps, and added new offerings.

Why use an app from Big Tech? Well, you’re already using software by the company, and there’s less chance of malware. But don’t forget to check the privacy policy on any app you download to see what personal data is being collected.

Here’s a quick guide to several Apple- and Google-made apps — and how to delete them if you still never use them.

If you haven’t opened Apple’s Weather app in a few years, it has had a major overhaul after Apple bought the rival Dark Sky weather app in 2020 and integrated its technology. Apple Weather now includes precipitation alerts, hyperlocal forecasts and color radar maps. Panels displaying air quality, the ultraviolet index, humidity, wind speed and sunrise/sunset times tap open for detailed information. There’s also a 10-day forecast — tap a day to see its predicted high and low temperatures and conditions.

Apple Weather in iOS 16 includes air-quality details, radar and other information about current conditions. When you tap a date in the 10-day forecast, near left, you get a daily summary and an hourly prediction; press and drag your finger on the hourly summary to see times and temperatures.Credit…Apple

In Apple’s Stocks app, you can still look up ticker symbols in the search box. If you’ve set up a custom watch list (or several), tap a ticker symbol to get a screen full of data; tap the time ranges at the top of the chart to see the performance over time, or swipe through the data below the chart to see more details.

Pressing the middle of the chart with one finger shows the value for a certain day and time, and pressing with two fingers shows the difference in value over time. Want a quick view of a stock’s performance? Just press and hold its ticker symbol in your watch list.

Apple’s Calculator app for the iPhone does basic math in portrait mode and turns into a scientific calculator with advanced functions when used in landscape mode.Credit…Apple

The trusty old Calculator app — which has long concealed a scientific calculator for more advanced mathematical functions when you use the iPhone in landscape mode — has a few other shortcuts. Accidentally enter the wrong number? Just swipe to the left or right on the display to delete the last digit. And press your finger down to copy a calculation for pasting elsewhere.

Android’s preinstalled software differs, depending on the version of the operating system. But a Calculator app has been standard since the early days; the current edition handles basic math and scientific operations like trigonometric, logarithmic and exponential functions no matter which way you hold the phone, and the screen at the top stores your past calculations.

Google’s Calculator app shows your past calculations and offers buttons for higher mathematical functions in either portrait or landscape mode.Credit…Google

Some hardware makers like Samsung have their own versions; the Samsung Calculator includes a unit converter function for translating measurements.

As shown on the far left, you can add a weather shortcut to your Android home screen from the Google app in two ways. Google’s weather report includes hourly precipitation forecasts, wind speed and other information.Credit…Google

You can track both weather and stocks through the Google app on most Android phones. When you open the app and tap the weather button, you can save a shortcut to the forecast on your home screen; if you don’t see the option, tap the three-dot menu icon on the right and choose Add to Home Screen.

To set up and track your stock portfolio, tap the Stocks button and add ticker symbols, mutual funds and other content to your watch list. Google supplies news stories related to your list, and you can save a Google Finance shortcut to your home screen.

Apple and Google have created dozens of tools that make your phone even more of a digital Swiss Army knife, like the free language translation, health and maps apps. Apple tends to load these, such as its Magnifier, Voice Memos, Measure and Compass apps, on new devices. If you don’t see one you’re looking for, search for a free download in the App Store.

Apple and Google have dozens of free apps for iOS and Android that you can download — or download again.Credit…Apple; Google

Depending on the phone, you may find certain Google-built apps already installed; the Google Play Store has a whole page of free Android apps developed by Google to browse. Many Google-developed apps have iOS counterparts and are available on the iOS App Store, like Google Earth and Socratic, a homework helper powered by artificial intelligence.

If you’re not using an app, deleting it saves space and helps you keep your home screen organized. Apple now allows most of its own iPhone apps to be removed by pressing down on an icon until a menu with a “remove” option appears.

On the iPhone, far left, press and hold your finger on an icon to get the menu to remove it. One quick way to remove an app from an Android phone, near left, is to drag it to the top of the screen to the Uninstall button.Credit…Apple; Google

On an Android phone, you can delete many apps quickly by dragging each icon to the top of the screen to the Uninstall option.

And if you change your mind later, you can always download those apps again.

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