Have you splashed out on a handset such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, or HTC One (M8)? Or maybe you’ve gone for something much more cost-effective, like the Motorola Moto G. Either way, one thing all these handsets have in common is that they run the world’s most popular smartphone platform – Android.
So once your new handset’s out of the box, where do you get started? The array of possibilities can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a beginners guide to help you on your way.
Set up a Google Account
When you switch on the device, it will run you through a few options. One of these involves creating a Google account, which you’ll need to get the most out of your smartphone’s software and do things like downloading apps.
The process is pretty simple, and you can use an existing email address. What a Google account does is effectively sign you into the phone, so it knows who you are and can pull through your information.
The basics: calls and texts
While smartphones now seem to do almost as much as your desktop computer, they still have the basic of calls and texts in place. Whichever Android device you use, you’ll find apps on screen at startup with names like ‘Phone’ and ‘Messages’. Use the Phone app for calls, typing in numbers and saving your contacts. Messages is for texts, that will appear in a chat-window format as you and your friends send them back and forth.
From your handset’s main screen you can swipe left and right to find other screens which, at first, will probably be blank. These are your homescreens, and they are where you keep you keep your apps and widgets for quick access. Depending on which handset you have, you may be able to add homescreens, or get rid of them if you find you have too many.
You can also personalise the image that shows in the backround of your homescreens to something that suits you. With most Android devices this involves simply pressing and holding your finger on the screen, then selecting ‘wallpaper’ from the options. You can use one of the many that come with your device, or import a photo to make a it truly your own.
Swipe your finger downward from the top of the display and you’ll find that a drop down menu comes with it. This is the notifications bar, and while its design and layout can vary between Android devices the principal remains the same.
Here are shown all the notifications that come to your device, so what you see is a list of text messages, emails, missed calls, tweets and so on. You may also end up receiving notifications about technical things such as app updates and prompts to sign into a Wi-Fi network. Tapping on any notification will take you to the relevant app, so responding is very easy indeed.
Along with messages and the like, many manufacturers also use the notifications bar to store several shortcuts to various controls like screen brightness, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This makes it easy to make quick adjustments to your handset’s most frequently used features.
Once you’re set up with the basics of how your phone works, you’ll want to get your hands on some of the hundreds of thousands of app that are available. Android’s app store is called Google Play, and you’ll find it installed as one of the default apps on your device.
You’re already signed in with your Google account, so you should be all set to get your hands on some free apps. Browse around the most popular apps and search for some categories you may be interested in, such as photography apps or games. You can also take a look at the many app reviews we’ve done on the Dialaphone blog.
Once you’ve downloaded some, you can arrange them on your homescreens so the most useful ones are right where you need them. Then delve into the multitude of things that your handset can do.
Lastly, there’s another element that is exclusive to Android – widgets. These are like apps in the way that they sit on your homescreen, but they can update themselves with information. For example, a calendar widget can show your next appointment, or a music player one can give you easy access to volume and track skip controls. You’ll find all your widgets listed in a menu that can normally be accessed from the regular app menu, or by pressing and holding on any homescreen.
Are you set up and ready to go? There are plenty of more advanced features that you’ll love about Android, so take a look at our rundown of the best.