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The Beginner’s Guide to Android

The Beginner’s Guide to Android

So you’ve picked up your new Android phone and you’re ready to dive right in! But like with any new gadget, you have unanswered questions about the features of Android and that powerful new device you’ve just booted up. And of course there are always unknown tips, tricks, and tutorials that you wish you’d known about beforehand. Luckily, we’ve got all the info that will put you on the fast track to becoming an Android expert!

First, some Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I know about the Android Market?

  • First off, the Android Market offers a 15 minute full refund window for paid apps. If you don’t like it, get your money back!
  • Certain apps may only be available to specific version of Android, e.g. Android 2.1+. This means if you’re still running Android 1.6, these apps won’t be available to you and won’t show up in searches.

What are those black/white box-shaped images?

  • They are called QR codes, and are similar to normal barcodes. They can be scanned by specific apps (see question below) and are a way for transferring all sorts of information, especially URLs. They are most often used as direct links to apps in the Android Market.

What are some essential Android Apps?

What is the best Facebook and Twitter App?

What is a Widget and how do I use it?

  • Widgets are items that are placed on your homescreen that provide you with information, without actually opening them like a normal app. To place a widget, long-press the homescreen and select it from the menu.
  • Check out our Top Rated Widgets category.

How do Android and Gmail integrate/sync?

  • In order to use your Android phone, you will have to have a Gmail account. Similarly, your contacts will be stored and synced from Gmail (So you’ll never lose contact information when switching phones). However, make sure to store old phone numbers and information on your SIM card so before making the transition to your Android phone.
  • Your Android phone also syncs with Google Calendar. If your work uses Outlook, you can sync this with Google Calendar to check meetings/appointments from your phone.

How do I get music, movies, photos, etc. onto my Android phone?

  • First, connect your phone to your computer by using the USB cable provided with your phone. Then, pull down the notification bar and “Mount” your SD card. This recognizes your SD card as another drive. There are various apps and other software programs that will help manage your files (However, if you’re not loaded with music and media, you may not have to worry about this).
  • Check out our tutorial on creating personalized ringtones, notifications, and alarms.

Are there other options for on-screen keyboards?

  • Swype – allows you to enter text by sliding your finger from letter to letter.
  • Thick Buttons – adjusts keyboard letter size based on predictive algorithm.
  • SwiftKey – advanced predictive capabilities and user interface.

How can I save battery life?

  • By managing how often your apps try to sync and controlling your settings like GPS and WiFi, you will be able to prolong the time between charges. See our battery saving tutorial for helpful apps.

Is the built-in browser my only option?

What is “rooting”?

  • Don’t worry about this for now.
  • (If you must know, it’s the process for gaining full control over your phone and its internal processes/system. Wait until you understand Android a little better before looking into this optional, advanced capability).
  • Refer to the XDA Developers Forums for more information and support.

Is there a way to take screenshots of my phone?

General tips:

  • Hold down the “Home” button for quick switching between apps. Multi-tasking is powerful!
  • Long-press is your friend. Many apps make use of this functionality, so when in doubt, try it out. (One example, long-press text in order to copy/paste)
  • If the on-screen keyboard pops up when you don’t need it, press the “back” button to get rid of it.

If you have more questions, leave a comment below or look for future posts in our Tutorials section!

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  1. Swype beta is no longer running btw, site says it will open up again soon?

  2. In the “General Tips” section there is a ref to copy and paste. I’m trying to copy from a document in Quickoffice and paste it to my email. I can select the text but can’t see how to copy it to a clipboard. Can you elaborate on the copy and paste process? Thank you. Love the magazine.

    • Once you have selected the text simply long press the selection and the option to copy should appear. Pasting is a similar process

      • There is quite a difference beewetn Android 2.1 and 2.2. The 2.2 s JIT compiler would make the phone quite a bit faster. Also brings the ability to use Swype and Voice Actions For Android, to install apps to the SD card, tethering and hotspot abilities.There is quite a difference so you are better off with the Optimus. The Ascend might get Froyo but there never are any guarantees.

  3. Is there an apps I can use to make video calls between my Samsung Galaxy Tab and someone’s laptop PC? I can successfully call and chat using Skype and Fring, but need to make video calls. Qik tells me they’re only able to do video calling mobile to mobile, and are working on PC-to-mobile for future roll-outs. Any suggestions?

  4. Thank you for providing such a comprehensive list of information that is a great help to this Android newbie. I am looking forward to loading apps to make my phone even better than it was out of the box.

  5. trying to uninstall wigits that were preloaded like uno. tried to throw it into my trash bin but to no avail.

  6. Very nice writeup. Thanks for the work.

  7. Is there a calendar/agenda/task app that moves past-due events to the next day until they are checked off?

    • yes indeed ! I use “do it tomorrow”
      Simple , elegant and does what it does autmaticaly advanceing timeline
      until a do gets crossed off.


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