I finally got an Android, and now… What?
Since my friends and acquaintances know that I’m working at Androidzoom.com reviewing apps and games, I’ve just become their geeky friend: the guy who they call when they’re struck on smartphones issues. They don’t mind at all if their doubts aren’t related to Android but other platforms: they assume that I got a cross-platform expertise. Well, that’s not really true. Although I try to keep abreast of stuff related to other platforms, my actual field is Android, with which I’m in my element.
After talking my friends into Android goodness for a long time, I got some of them buy an Android (I failed with others iFriends though). As many as my friends own an Android we get better user experience since we can recommend and share apps and enjoy them together. The only catch is that I have to give an “Introductory Master Class” to all of them each time one gets an Android device. Well, that’s not really a catch, I have to admit that deep down I like doing it.
I’ll try to list some of that quick tips that any new Android owner should take into account after unpacking their device. Of course, we could deepen any of these points, although it’ll have to be in next posts.
This is just a quick guide for Android newbies.
First off, you’ve probably chucked out a phone which battery last longer than the one you’re holding now. Batteries haven’t evolved as fast as mobile technology did. An Android is a powerful tool that allows you to take pictures and videos, play games, share content and stay connected 24/7. However, all this stuff drains lot of battery. You’ll have to get used to bring the charger always with you and plug it everyday. It’s like Andrew Niccol’s movie “In time”: you get a 24h-countdown to plug your Android back.
This is, obviously, a catch, I agree. However, what comes next are all advantages. Just an advice: there are apps that will help you to save battery, although better try to avoid “Task killers” miracles. What really will help you to extend your battery life are apps that control those resources that leak most battery, that’s it: screen filters, widgets to enable/disable WiFi/3G/4G and apps that monitor sync interval.
Phonebook and accounts
Even more than the Internet connection, the keystone of the smartphones revolution are the apps (and games): they give new uses to our smartphones, beyond “calls” and “sms”. Since imagination has no limits, developers are working on new apps and games and hundreds of them are released everyday. Getting apps is as easy as launching the Android Market, searching the app you want and download it. It will be automatically installed in your device. You can also install apps from the .apk (the executable file of an Android app), by placing it on your device and launching it. From each Market app’s profile you will see app’s name, file size, rate, comments, developer description and other useful info. However, the info that provides the Android Market is quite limited so far. If you want to know more about the apps and games before downloading them you can visit Androidzoom: read reviews, watch videoreviews, check badges, sort apps by popularity, price, on sale,… among many other features.
You will find some paid apps as well. The Android Market payment system is totally secure, don’t hesitate on giving it a go: so you just need to choose your payment system preference and input your data. It will remember it for next payments. If you don’t want to get any paid app (although lots of them are worth), no worries: most of them have both paid and free version (look also for “Lite”, “Demo” versions).
I recommend you to spend a while toying the settings to get an idea of the amount of features you can set to your own. In the beginning it’s a bit complicate to get the hang of it, to know exactly where to change one or another feature. However, the “settings” menu is the “heart” of your Android device. Thus, the sooner you get used to it, the faster you will become an expert. From settings you will be able to change language, add new accounts, manage apps, set ringtones, enable WiFi, 3G or GPS, set display configuration, privacy options… among hundreds of features. You better try it yourself. What’s really good is that all Android devices share the same “settings” menu. There aren’t important changes even between Android OS versions.
The Daily use
Although you will probably try hundreds of apps and games, in the end you will use a limited amount of “daily” apps. The most used apps for most of the people I know are related to this categories:
- Communication: Basically e-mail and instant messenger. Regarding e-mail, as I told you, Gmail is the most used app and, from my point of view, the best: ease of use, sync and integration with other tools. For instant messenger (well, actually phone-based pushed messenger) I’m using Whatsapp, but if you don’t like it there are tenths of alternatives: PingChat! (Touch), Kakaotalk, Kik Messenger… Although there are heaps of them, you will finally used the one that the most of your friends are using because there’s no integration among them. Try one of this app and you will realized why SMS have died.
- Social Networks: Well, this depends on which SN you’re already using. There are Android apps for almost all of them (at least for all the most used): Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, G+,… What’s more, there are other client apps that allows you to manage multi-account: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Seesmic, Tweetcaster,…
- News: You can keep updated about what’s happening out there thanks to your Android in three ways: checking Newspapers websites and magazines from the browser, downloading the official newspaper apps or with RSS feeds reader apps. This last is probably the fastest option and the one that I prefer but, you know, that’s a matter of taste.
- Geo-location and mapping: Believe me, you’re going to use it more often than you think. And we got a winner in this regard: Google Maps. From it you can check maps (some even in 3D), places, local business, GPS, share your location, check-in… Google Maps is updated every week and new features are added.
- Camera: There’s no need to download any app, there’s a default camera app and some devices even include effects and editing options. However, there are lots of camera apps that offer added-value: for editing, sharing (photo social networks) and even for playing.
- Music: You can listen to your playlists on your device through apps of streaming services like Spotify, Grooveshark, Google Music,… from local music in your device or from radio apps.
- Games: There are thousands of games on the market. Some of them are really worth and will end up with the boredom while waiting the metro. I’ll make you a list of the ones I liked most. Or better, follow Androidzoom blog as well as its Facebook, Twitter and G+ pages to get reviews and videoreviews of apps and games.
These are just the basic tips you must know to start using your Android. From now, the way you manage your battery, the apps and games you download, the personalization and the daily use is up to you.