New to Android – Getting Started on a Terrific Platform

March 21, 2012

Each day, hundreds of thousands of people buy an Android device. Though a lot of these people are familiar with Android, there are also those who are new to it, or perhaps unfamiliar with modern mobile devices altogether. In this article I am going to cover some points to get you started in the Android world, and help you feel more comfortable with your new best friend.

Welcome!

In becoming a user of Android, you’ve opened yourself up to a huge world of development and progress in the mobile age.

There are so many terrific applications for you to enjoy, and more are being released every day. If you really want to enjoy the mobile internet phenomenon and make full use of your device, you should start by trying the official Twitter and Facebook applications, perhaps Google+ if you have that too. These can be obtained for free from the Play Store. The Play Store is the online marketplace built right into your device which allows you to download new applications.

You've chosen one of the best and most flexible mobile platforms out there

Afterwards, try installing an application which might replace the functionality of another that came with your phone. For example, I loathed the text-messaging application that came bundled with my phone, so I installed one called GoSMS. It is free and has far more features to offer you. Then you could try a news feed application like feedLy, or explore the world through Wikipedia. Have an explore for yourself, and see what you turn up. Remember that if you don’t like an application it only takes a moment to remove it.

At Android Authority, we’ve already compiled several lists of the most popular and well developed games and applications available to Android users, after reading this article you may want to take a look at these:

Our ‘Best Apps’ tag collection: This is a list of all the articles we have ever published with the tag of ‘Best Apps’. There are plenty to go through and you’re bound to find some applications you’ll fall in love with.

Best of 2011: This article shows off some of the best applications that came around in 2011.

Apps to show off your new phone: If you have only just bought your new Android phone, this article lists out some of the most visually impressive applications and appearance modifiers.

Here’s a few other great ideas of app lists to get you started. With Android, virtually everything goes. For everything you can imagine, there’s a good chance there will be a related app of some kind. Check out these lists our expert app editors have compiled:

Here’s a few apps geared towards enhancing your daily tasks

Best RSS Reader Apps for Android

Best Android Apps for Gardeners  & Landscaping

Best Android Weather Apps & Widgets

Best Android Apps for Cooking & Getting Inspired in the Kitchen

The Best Android Apps That Can Help You Get Motivated

Best Apps to Customize your Android Device

Best Android Apps for Managing Household Tasks

Best Android Apps for Managing your Money

Best Android Apps for Students

The Best Android Apps for Kids

Useful apps for different folks:

Best Android Apps to Help you Find you Lost Android Device

Best Picture & Image Editing Apps for Android

Best Android Apps to turn your Android Smartphone into a Remote Control 

Best Android Apps for Blogging and Video Blogging

Some media and music related apps for your viewing pleasure:

The Top Android Apps For Music Lovers And Avid Listeners

Top 6 Best Android Apps for Playing Video

Top 5 Best Android Camera Apps for Snapping Photos

Best Android Apps for Playing Podcasts

The Top Android Apps For Movie Lovers

Best Android Apps for Streaming TV & Movies

Best Android pocket music box apps

And, if you have a newly acquired Android tablet, then be sure to check out Tablified HD – it curates only tablet specific apps, so it’s very helpful.

As you can tell, we’ve got a lot of different app lists to help you out. Take a look around, you will definitely find something you like.

Rooting and Custom ROM’s – What does it all mean?

Rooting is a topic that you will come across sooner or later. Originally thought of as something a bit taboo and obscure, it is now one of the most popular undertakings for experienced Android users who want to tinker with their phones. Let me explain:

When manufacturers release an Android smartphone, they release it with certain restrictions in place. Though you can customise a lot of features and settings, you are never truly an administrator of the device or the ‘root’ user. For example, you are unable to modify system files that can have a great impact on the device’s usability. By running a small piece of software designed for device, you can unlock these restrictions, become the root user, and take total control of your Android device. To root most devices, you only need half an hour of research on the internet. However it immediately voids your warranty.

A ROM is usually a complete package of the Android software. So, manufacturers load a ROM onto a blank device to give it software it can run. There are numerous communities of Android programmers on the web who find ways of installing their own customised releases of Android on their devices. Not only does this allow them to provide features that the general public want which manufacturers ignore, it allows a great deal of freedom. For example, some community built ROM’s like CyanogenMod allow you to crank up your device’s processing capabilities far beyond its advertised speeds.

If you are new to Android or your device has only just been unboxed, rooting is probably something you should keep in mind, but not attempt right away. Remember that it voids your warranty, so if your device develops a fault, the manufacturers won’t send you a replacement. It is best to wait a year or so before rooting. Or at least give your device a long time to reveal whether it has any faults. It’s also important to research the rooting procedure for your device, and if you find a custom build of Android you may want to run, research the process for installing that until the bitter end. Most installations of custom ROM’s are successful, but one in a hundred can fail (usually due to human error) and render the device unusable. If not unusable, then a pain to get working properly again.

Here are two of our own articles which will give you further information about the rooting process, A Beginners Guide to Rooting, and information about how it can improve speed and performance.

The Battery Barely Lasts a Day: What Can I Do?

Like any electrical device, the more features you have running, the more juice is being used to power them. Therefore your battery is drained quicker. Allow me to give you some tips to help make that battery last up to twice as long.

  • Turn things off when you’re done: When you are done with a battery-intensive service, like using the GPS. It’s very important that you remember to turn it off again. The same goes for Bluetooth and even WiFi. Even when you don’t think you are using something, if it is enabled, power is being used to keep these components ‘alive’.
  • Stop Network Polling: Many applications regularly use your mobile data service to check things out, like Twitter checking to see if you have new tweets. In every application that makes regular checks to the internet, there is a variable in that applications settings for how often it can connect to the internet. Some applications check every 5 minutes. See if you can’t change this setting to be more along the lines of 15 or 20 minutes. It makes considerable difference.
  • Use an Application: There are many applications on the Play Store which claim to help increase battery life. One that
  • Reduce Screen Brightness: One of the most battery-hungry parts of a phone is the screen, especially when the brightness is turned up high. Most phones today make it easy to adjust the brightness quickly and without fuss. If your device has auto-brightness, then it’s a good idea to enable that. That way you can see the screen easily in all light levels, and as much battery life is saved as is possible.

For more information on extending the life of your battery take a look at our article How to Improve Android Battery Life.

Google Play? The Salesman said Android Market!

If you’ve heard of both Android Market and Google Play, and are getting a little confused, don’t worry because they are one and the same thing. For years the application and service which Android devices use to get other applications, films and books has been called Android Market, but in the last few weeks Google have re-branded this to be become Google Play. This brings the ‘Play Store’ to your phone, in place of Android Market or ‘Market’.

Every now and then it doesn’t hurt to load up the Play Store and see which applications are ‘headlining’ each section. A lot of them are free due to being on promotion and usually of high quality.

For more information on the Android Market/Google Play transition, have a read here.

Not all Applications are available for all Devices

Due to Android having multiple versions spread across multiple devices (known as fragmentation), some applications that are designed for certain versions of Android may be unavailable to you. Don’t worry though! Fans of the program you are searching for always find alternatives that are just as good. If you can’t easily find an alternative on the Play Store, have a quick google or check out the XDA Forums.

Sometimes an application requires a piece of hardware that your phone doesn’t have. For most phones from only a year ago can’t use the Near Field Communication some newer applications offer, because they don’t have an NFC chip in them.

Just Enjoy Yourself

At the end of the day, I can only tell you so much. The real way to enjoy an Android device is to explore it to the full yourself. Be curious, try new applications, delve deep into layer after layer of settings and above all else, enjoy the Android device you have purchased.

Let us know if you have any questions, and we will be happy to help!

Comments

  • Amycaddie

    Great post ! :D

    • Sam

      It’s my first for this site, so thank you very much!

      • BALA SINGAM

        Keep up the good work!

  • http://twitter.com/Bumferry Bumferry Hogart

    Very good and informative post. Ive had my Xperia arc S for around 4 months and still find new and wonderful things to play with inside it, so hints and tips like this are a godsend for me.
    However, from reading the battery section of the post, the bullet point “use an application” seems to stop half way through a sentence. Any clues on which applications might help with battery life?
    Appriciate all the work that goes to sites like this – and hope to read more very soon!

    Thanks again.