Last week I was roaming about the Internet, looking for something to write about, when I discovered an article over at Mashable about Android for newbies. As I read through the list of some 20 pieces of information, I thought to myself that I could improve upon this list. So I decided to take that list of 20 items, trim it down to 10, and provide a more in-depth description of what I believe a newbie to Android would need to know.
What is Android?
Android is basically an operating system that takes the place of Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS operating systems. Google produces the basic operating system and the companies that choose to use Android may modify it (within limits) to personalize the operating system. As an example, if you purchase an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, you will get an Amazon-modified version of Android that maximizes Amazon’s vision of its tablet and makes it easier for the consumer to use with the company’s products.
Where do you get your applications?
On most Android-powered devices, you will get your applications directly from Google Play. However, this is not always the case, because some companies — such as Amazon — limit the applications that you can install on their devices. In the case of the Kindle Fire, Amazon wants you to get your apps from Amazon and Amazon, alone. Do not panic, since both Google and Amazon offer a tremendous amount of applications that should meet all of your needs.
Why are there so many different versions of Android?
Google has been improving upon Android, just like Microsoft has improved upon Windows, over the years. To add to the confusion, Google likes to use code names to describe which operating system you are using. Gingerbread, which is currently on most smartphones, is being replaced by Ice Cream Sandwich or the latest and greatest Android operating system called Jelly Bean. Currently, Jelly Bean is the preferred Android version of choice and comes pre-installed on the Google Nexus 7.
If I buy a device using Gingerbread, will I be disappointed?
I don’t believe you will. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but over all, Gingerbread will work fine for most of your everyday activities and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong; I really like Jelly Bean since it runs exceptionally smoothly with few problems or issues. But I also use Gingerbread on two smartphones that I own as my everyday operating system with few issues.
Are paid applications better than free applications?
This all depends on the application you are thinking about using and what you wish to accomplish on your device. Most of the applications I use on my Android phone and tablet devices are free. However, I also have purchased some paid applications, courtesy of Google. When I bought the Google Nexus 7, I received a $25 credit for the Google Play Store. I opted to purchase some applications by using the credit to supplement what I wanted to use my device for. As an example, I purchased a program called GrooveIP so that I could make calls over the Internet via Wi-Fi.
What is the best email program to use with Android?
I personally like Gmail as my email mail client since I can synchronize all of my contacts and emails from one single account. This makes my life much easier. I can receive emails on all of my devices by using just one account. I also have my primary email from my ISP and another account from MSN, and all be filtered through Gmail. For me, this system works great and I highly recommend using Gmail.
What is the best browser to use with Android?
If you are using Gingerbread, I would recommend installing the Dolphin or Opera Web browser. Either of these two browsers work better, in my opinion, than the default browser that comes with Android. If you buy a device that comes with either Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, the choice of browsers is extremely simple. I recommend you get the Chrome browser, which can also be synchronized with your other Android and iOS devices and computer system of choice.
Can I access my Facebook and Twitter accounts using Android?
Absolutely. Both of these social networks can easily be accessed via your browser and by installing applications that support Facebook and/or Twitter with ease.
What are widgets?
You are going to love widgets and how they can help to simplify your use of Android and the operating system’s many features. Picture widgets as miniature applications that reside on your home screen. Widgets can be used to display snapshots of applications without having to open an entire app. As an example, I use a widget to view my Gmail, a widget to control my power savings features, another widget for magazine subscriptions, and the list goes on and on.
How do I use the Application Drawer?
At the bottom of your home screen, aka your main window, is a panel. The Applications Drawer is simply what Microsoft calls a Taskbar in Windows. You can access any application — or other item of your choosing from the Application Drawer — from any home screen. Think of it as a shortcut to access your stuff.
If you are an Android user, and I know many of you are, share with us what features of Android you use using. Remember that there are always people who are new to Android who can use all of the help we can give them.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Saad Irfan