Those old apps can learn new tricks

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.

Updates to Apple’s Standbys

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.

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.

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.

The Android Toolbox

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.

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

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.

Finding More Free Apps

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.

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.

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