You finally have an Android Mobile Phone, Now What??? Tips and Apps Review
Whether you purchased one or were lucky enough to have one delivered this Christmas via Santa, unwrapping a new Android phone for the first time comes with feelings of great enthusiasm and excitement. Whoa, this HTC sure is sleek and shiny! That Droid noise is pretty cool! However, these emotions can quickly turn into an overwhelming sense of confusion and frustration for people unfamiliar with the Android operating system. So, now that you have your new Google-powered mini-computer out of the box and powered on, what’s next?!?! How do you customize it? What apps should you download? What are the best games? How can you use your new smartphone to simplify your life? How can you stay connected to your friends? Well, read on Android novice…
Number of Android Applications
First, Andriod is a Linux based operating system developed by the Open Handset Alliance that brings both free and open development to mobile phones. This means that programers can develop compelling applications (apps) that can access any of the phone’s core functional systems such sending text messages or using the phone’s built-in camera. Therefore, Android os apps can provide a more captivating experience for the user. Basically, Android is a bundle of code, that can be manipulated by any developer to do very impressive things. There is a community of developers writing apps for Android that constantly extend the functionality of Android powered devices. Currently, it is estimated that there are over 200,000 apps in the Android Market! Will so many apps, it can be confusing on how to get started with your new phone.
Before you download any apps lets go through some basic setup
- Set up Wi-Fi: If you’re in your home, or at your office you probably have access to wireless internet. To connect your new Android device to Wi-Fi, simply hit the phones Menu button (photo on the right), then select Settings, then scroll through the list and tap Wireless & Networks. Check the box that reads Wi-Fi to enable your device to search for a Wi-Fi connection. Then tap Wi-Fi settings. Android will display your home/office wireless router, select it and enter the password. Android will automatically remember the router and password and connect when in range. Once connected, you will see the wireless icon with signal strength in the notifications bar. Connecting to Wi-Fi will allow your phone to use your local internet connection, which usually means faster browsing and download speeds, as compared to using a 3G cellular signal.
- Upgrade Built-In Apps: Head to the Android Market and hit the Menu button, then select My Apps. This will bring up a list of currently installed applications. Check for upgrades to apps like Google Maps, Gmail, and Facebook. Upgrade to the newest versions to allow the fastest results and access to the newest features.
You can see my review of the newest Google Maps App at this hub.
- Sync Gmail: Android is owned by Google and thus requires a Google Account. If you’ve ever used Gmail, Google Docs, or Google Reader on your desktop, you will have a Google account. To sync your phone with your Google Account tap the Menu button >Settings > Accounts and Sync > Add Account > Google (you can also sync your Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, and Corporate Email here). Google will ask you to create a new account or sign in using an existing account. If you don’t already have an account with Google, you can easily create one. Enter your username and password and tap Sign in.Once you’ve logged into your Google account you can import your contacts by tapping the account name, under Manage account, and turning on Sync. This will automatically sync your Google contacts with your phone. You can also Sync your phone to your Facebook or Twitter account by repeating the steps above.
- Add your Favorite Contacts to the Home Screen: If you have a few contacts you plan on communicating with frequently, one way to easily connect with them is to save a contact icon to your home screen. To do this simply press and hold the screen on an empty spot. On the pop-up menu, select Shortcuts, then Contact, browse through your contact list and until your see Mr. or Mrs. VIP. Tap the contact name. This will place a shortcut to the contact on your home screen that allows you to view that contacts info by simply tapping the icon. This will give you a number of options to easily connect with the person such as by placing a call, text, email, or even view the contacts Facebook page. Below you can see I've added a few contact shortcuts to my screen.
- Create Access Security: If you aren’t going to have your phone in your pocket all day and are worried about nosey roommates or coworkers, you might want to setup access security on your phone. Out of the box, most Android systems are accessible to whomever has it in their hands, but you can make your phone require an unlock pattern for a little added security. Tap the Menu button > then Location & Security > Set Unlock Pattern. Slide your figure across the circles in a pattern that you can remember. After this is setup, every time you want to access the phone, it will require entering the pattern.
Protect Your Android Mobile Phone!
Now that the basic setup is complete you can give downloading some apps a try. Here are are list of great apps to get you started:
- AppBrain: AppBrain is an app management system that enhances the overall Android Market experience. AppBrain allows the user to easily browse through apps using a computer, or an Android app and to keep track of app purchases, installs, and updates, and share apps with friends. AppBrain lists apps in categories such as Hot, Popular, Top-Rated, and also will recommend apps based on current apps installed on your phone. To browse apps either go to www.appbrain.com or hit Browse Apps on the Android app. AppBrain also allows the user to easily manage and sync Android app installs and removals via the internet or a phone. Selecting Manage and Sync in the app menu shows the user a list of apps currently installed the Android device. This feature also allows the user to update and remove apps.
- Barcode Scanner: The barcode scanner app allows Android phones with a camera to scan 1D barcodes on almost any product such as CDs, DVDs, and books and pull up prices and reviews to related to the product. The app can also be combined with Google Shopper, which will pull up information and prices from local areas if your GPS is turned on. Barcode Scanner will also scan 2D QR codes, such as the ones used to link to apps.To scan an item simply tap the Barcode Scanner app then focus the scan area onto the barcode. When the code is read the phone will beep and Android will automatically bring up relevant information for that product.
Dolphin Browser HD
- Dolphin Browser HD: The built-in browser for Android works well for browsing but Dolphin Browser HD has a few added features that make the browsing experience superior. It has incorporated easy browsing using finger gestures to move forward and backward between websites, two finger zoom, added tabs much like Google Chrome, and has a number of add-ons. A few notable add-ons are Google Reader, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Dropbox: Dropbox for Android is a must have app in my opinion. With a Dropbox account the user can access files across multiple computer platforms. Dropbox stores files such as music, pictures, videos, and other documents in the cloud. This means that one can access his/her files from any Dropbox installed device at anytime. Uploading files is as simple as dragging and dropping files. Dropbox also allows users to share the contents of specific folders via e-mail. You can get 2 GB of storage for free, but if you end up needed more cloud storage space you will need to fork over a little cash.
- Lookout Mobile Security: Lookout Mobile Security is an anti-virus, anti-theft, and back-up application all bundled into a single app. First, the anti-virus aspect is comes into play when the user downloads a new app. The download will prompt Lookout to scan the app for any threats including viruses, malware, and corrupt files and confirm the app is safe for download. Secondly, Lookout provides the ability to automatically store contacts and other data through their website at mylookout.com, which can be accessed anytime. In the case of a lost or stolen phone, one can recover important documents and contacts. Thirdly, if ones Android device is stolen Lookout can locate the missing device using GPS, or enable the phone to “scream” which can aide in finding a missing phone, and even wipe out all data on the phone.
I'm sure by now your thinking, "The games, get to the games, already!". OK! Android has a huge number of gaming apps that can be downloaded for free or at a relatively small cost. Due to massive popularity of the game I can't finish this hub without discussing the game Angry Birds.
Angry Bird Plush Toy
- Angry Birds: If you’re a gamer of any sort you have definitely already heard of the massively popular game Angry Birds developed by Rovio Mobile. The story line is that a gang of hungry pigs has snatched some eggs from the birds, which then embark on a rescue mission to retrieve their eggs. In order to rescue their eggs, the birds must destroy the evil pigs, breaking down their hideouts and fortresses in the process. The actual gameplay is elegantly simple. A variety of birds are launched from a slingshot, hurling them towards the pigs bunkered down in their fortress. At first glance the game seems so simple it can’t possible be entertaining. However, after a few rounds the addiction kicks in and your hurling non-stop birds at the smiling pigs. The addictive part of the rests in the puzzle like nature of the pigs fortress, often requiring the user to develop a strategy to effectively kill all the pigs with the number of birds given. The game has become so popular Rovio has decided turn the birds into toys, which you can see below.
In conclusion, I hope this hub provides a good reference for how to get to get started with your new Android phone. Once familiar with the Droid system the operation is very simple and completely customizable. Look for more posts in the future regarding customization and more app reviews.
If you'd like to read more about other Google products, check out this hub.
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