Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to use your new Android device

New owners of Android devices are some times lost in the world of opportunities offered by the platform. This simple guide will help you do more with your new device or will let you know what is possible to do with the platform. This is some pretty elementary stuff but even the most advanced user will be able to learn something out of this.


The first thing you should do when you get a new Android device is explore and play around with it. Once that step is completed and you familiarized yourself with the OS, you should setup your HomeScreen. This is just like deciding what icons will be displayed on the desktop of your home computer. To do so, just go in the app drawer and long-press on the icons you want on your HomeScreen. You can also place app icons on your icon dock, the bottom part that always stays the same, by doing the same operation. One of Android's best feature and major advantage over it's competition is the possibility to add widgets to your HomeScreen. Widgets are mini app views that receive periodic updates or lets you perform actions without having to open up the app. Whatever phone or tablet you bought, it will come with pre-installed widgets. Most of the time, you will get a power widget, a music widget, a calendar widget and an email widget. If your device does not allow you to manage power settings by pulling down the notification panel, I suggest that you use a power widget. Turning off your WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, Sync and GPS will save your battery life because if they are always on, your phone will always look for a WiFi connection or will always position your device with the GPS and that uses your battery power a lot. You can organize your HomeScreen any way you want but here is how I decided to set it up on my Galaxy Nexus :

My Galaxy Nexus' HomeScreen
I decided to set my HomeScreen so the apps I use the most will be in the middle; news, music, file management and bills on the left; Twitter and Facebook on the far left; power settings and professional apps on the right; and calendar and email widgets on the far right. That way, I am never confused about which app goes where and it is way more efficient that having each and every app placed randomly on my HomeScreen (wink at Apple). Also, I have the applications that are must-haves in my bottom dock.

Download Apps & Games

Your device will come preloaded with applications but you also have to possibility to download and install more. To do so, you have the choice of using the Google PlayStore, which is the default way of doing it, the Amazon AppStore, the TegraZone (if you have a Tegra device), Samsung apps and many other. You can also download apps or games directly from the Internet by googling the name of the app you want plus apk, which is the file extension used for Android applications. You should know that this is not necessarily legal or safe so if you decide to do it this way I am not responsible for breaking or filling your device with viruses. Another way of downloading apps is to go through repositories and using apps like APKtor but this is for more advanced users. 

Pay your bills

Online payment is becoming more and more mainstream and now you can do it from your phones. If you take a look at my HomeScreen, you will see that I have an application called My Account which is Fido's application that allows you to pay your phone bill, view your phone and data usage, view and manage your services and more. Most providers have an app that has similar functions and you can surely find it in the Google PlayStore. I also have an app to pay my credit card and view my bank account balance. It lets me find the nearest ATM, see my services and more but I mainly use it to check if I am broke or not. It is very secure and works all the time so now that I had it for a while, I could not live without it. 


Another thing you can do with your new device is personalizing it so it looks the way you want to. You could even make it look like an iPhone but I wonder who would want to do such a stupid thing. You can change your background, download a new music app, change your keyboard but the real way to change the look of your Android device is by downloading a new app launcher. This will let you completely alter the appearance of your phone or tablet. Here is my top 5 of app launcher : ADWLauncher, Nova Launcher, Go Launcher Ex, Apex Launcher and Launcher Pro. 

The most important thing you must remember from reading this is that you have to experiment. Tweak your device to the point where you know what you like and how you want it to be. Android is really flexible so bend it to the way you are most comfortable and don't be scared, those devices are pretty hard to break.


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