Getting started with Android: 5 Tips for New Android Users
It’s understandable why freshly minted Android users may get a little overwhelmed by the raw power of this operating system. The ability to customize almost every aspect of your smartphone provides an inundating array of choices and options. It’s easy to catch a serious case of decision fatigue with the powerful personalization options of this platform.
But never fear — we’ve rounded up a handful of helpful hints that’ll ease hesitant newbies into the Android experience. So here’s a bevy of tricks and built-in features that can help you get started and make the most of your shiny new smartphone.
Install a gesture keyboard
Before diving in, take stock of the standard features of your phone. Take particular notice of your keyboard. Is it just the standard QWERTY variety? If so, it’s time for a serious upgrade.
A gesture keyboard can help cure clumsy-finger syndrome while texting and cut back on all those embarrassing autocorrect errors. These crafty tools sometimes come standard with your Android phone. If not, I recommend visiting the Google Play store and giving a keyboard program like Swype (my personal fav) a try. Then spend those precious seconds you shaved off texting time on something far more productive.
Just a note: Yes, the gesture keyboard can take a little getting used to. It takes a little brain retraining to swipe over keyboard letters rather than tap them, but I found it’s well worth the effort.
Get Google Now
For those who have procured a newer Android phone model, this handy feature turns your phone into a pocket-sized virtual assistant.
Google Now queues up helpful info based on your location. For example, if you’re headed home on your daily commute, Google Now can warn you about traffic jams ahead and offer alternate routes. And that’s just the tip of the information iceberg on offer from this practical little tool.
Getting in on the virtual assistant action is as simple as flipping the “Google Now” switch under settings in your Google Search app. Then you can tinker with the list of information types the feature will queue up (you can opt out of flight notifications, for example) to avoid receiving notification pings every few seconds.
Set up a spouse button
Keeping your friends and family at your fingertips is one of the root reasons we procure those ubiquitous smartphones to begin with. And many of the smartphones that run on the Android platform offer a cool feature that puts your closest contact right on your home screen.
Whether you have your significant other or your bestie as your top contact, Android makes it easy to keep in touch. Simply add the built-in 1-by-1 Contact widget to your home screen and select your desired contact for the button. With just two swift finger taps, you’ll now be able to text, call or email your spouse, bestie or mom (two cheers for efficiency!).
While maintaining all the updates on your multitude of apps may be a minor frustration, Android offers users an option to remove this small stressor from your life forever.
Automatically downloading updates for all those apps is a simple but common-sense solution for keeping everything current. Simply open up the Google Play app, tap on “Settings,” and click the box next to the option titled “Auto-update apps.” Going forward, all those updates will stream in without requiring further action from you.
And to ensure all those updates aren’t eating up your data, consider clicking the “Update over Wi-Fi only” option on the same settings screen.
Use Maps offline
During our daily lives, we’re often glued to our smartphone screens, and it’s safe to say many of us run into a fair share of Wi-Fi fails. Whether it be a connection failure or a lack of data for travellers abroad, losing Wi-Fi when navigating to a new place via GPS can be a serious hassle.
Never fear: you can avoid this irritating scenario with a little foresight. When you load up a map of your desired destination on the Maps app, just tap the menu button and hit “Make available offline.” A cropping tool will pop up overlaying your map. Zoom in or out to select the desired area, and the app will download a copy for you to view without a data connection.
The best part is you can save multiple maps — store one of the neighbourhood you’re headed to for a meeting, or a layout of a city you’re visiting during your next vacation. Either way, navigating to your destination is far easier with this feature.
The bottom line
While Android may feel a little foreign at first, this powerful platform is an incomparable combination of raw functionality and untainted personalization. And with a plethora of fun and functional features unique to this operating system, even timid novices can become Android evangelists in no time.
Have you recently made the switch to Android? Share your thoughts in the comments below.