Consider this scenario: You’ve finally saved enough money to buy yourself a decent mobile phone. You decide on a good smartphone, most probably one that runs Android because you have heard a great deal about how Android is dominating the market for smartphones.
So you hie off to the nearest mall (in the case of Tacloban, it has to be Robinson’s Place), browse through a selection of Android phones on the racks and display shelves of popular electronic communications shops like Digital Gleen, CellCom, and even maybe Samsung Style.
And then finally you’ve found it, the perfect smartphone for you. You immediately run home, charge the phone overnight, and then play with the gadget come morning. The question is: now that you have your smartphone, what do you do with it?
To make a long story short: A lot of people who purchase Android phones don’t really know the full capabilities of their gadget.
In this first installment of our Owning An Android Phone: Tips For Beginners series, we tackle how to choose and install apps.
Android 2.2.1 as seen on a Samsung Galaxy Mini
Connecting to the Internet on an Android phone
Before you can raid the Android Market for apps, you should first connect your smartphone to the Internet. If you are on a plan with any of the big telecommunications firms, particularly data plans, your smartphone will connect to the Internet automatically when you open the market. To make sure, install your subscriber sim into the smartphone upon purchase with the help of the store’s representative. About 99 percent of the time, these little Santa’s helpers know what to do.
If you don’t own a plan with any of the big telecoms firms, fret not; there is hope in open Wi-Fi networks. There’s a couple of open Wi-Fi networks at Robinson’s Place Tacloban, including those named “Robinsonsmalls” and “Tenants,” which seldom work, FYI, and “NETGEAR.”
To connect to a Wi-Fi network, make your way to Settings on your Android phone (on Samsung Android phones, it’s usually in the first app screen indicated by a “gear” icon). Tap on Settings and then Wireless and Networks. This opens up a menu of Connectivity settings. Choose Wi-Fi Settings. Make sure Network Notification is checked so that the phone will notify you when an open network is available. If the phone detects an open network, it will automatically try to connect. If this fails, it will move on to the next open network on the list and cycle through it until it successfully connects.
If you are finding it impossible to connect to any of these open networks, find the nearest Internet cafe and post a comment on this blog post. I will then contact you and send you tips on how to access some secured Wi-Fi networks.
Link a Google Account
We’ve almost neglected to mention that you need a Google account to access the Android Market. The fastest way to link your smartphone to a Google account is by accessing the Gmail app and logging in. The app will ask for your permission to link the gadget to your account. By all means, tap on “Yes” or “Accept.”
Once your shiny new Android phone is linked to a Google account, move on to the next step in the process, that of opening the Android Market and grabbing all the apps that your little phone can handle.
Load the Android Market app
Once you have connected your smartphone to the Internet, it’s time to open the Android Market and browse through its selection of applications. Most of today’s Android phones come with the Android Market app already installed. So just click on the market icon to load the app.
Fair warning: when the Android Market apps loads, you’ll be bombard with information. You can sort through this with the help of search or by tapping on Categories and choosing a topic as a starting point.
The Android Market has, in my point of view, four main categories (not to be confused with established categories mentioned above): Paid, Free, Apps and Games.
I suggest taking it easy on your first go at the Android Market. There are hundreds of free apps that you can use on a daily basis. Here’s a handy list of the most used Android apps on my smartphone.
You can take my list and download the apps that are on it, especially those that are pretty common like the Facebook Android app or the Twitter Android app. But I encourage you to build your own list (and maybe even share it with us here on Techloban).
Download and install apps
Needless to say, when you find an app that you fancy, go right ahead and download it. Remember, though, that not all apps will work on your Android phone. There are several limiting factors in choosing apps, foremost among which is the screen size.
Don’t worry about downloading an app by mistake. The Android Market will prompt you every time you click on “Install” with a message that tells you if the app is compatible with the smartphone you registered with your Google account. Register? Oh, yeah, I think we forgot to mention that, too.
Enjoy your Android apps
Now that your Android phone has apps, it’s time to enjoy them. I recommend downloading and installing a healthy mix of apps classified into three:
Apps that you think you will use on a daily basis. This type of app usually includes Facebook (because, come on, who doesn’t own a Facebook account … well, not all, but you get the picture) and maybe even YouTube.
Apps that you think will help boost your productivity. There are quite a number of apps that belong to this category. On my Samsung Galaxy Mini, I have Dropbox (an app that allows you to access online data storage; account needed), ConvertPad (handy tools that helps you convert figures), and Thinking Space (which helps me plot plans for projects).
Apps that help you relax. Naturally, games belong to this classification. For starters, go with well-known game apps like Angry Birds and its sequels, Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons. If you want games that challenge your brain, I’ve compiled a short list of Android apps that might tickle your noggin.
So there you have it, our first installment of beginner tips for Android phone users. Do you have tips to share? Tell us about it via a comment on this blog post or through Techloban’s contact form.