The Beginner Guide to Android – What New Android Users Need to Know About Their Phones

We have written plenty of articles on the Android OS, mostly on the apps review and various tips/tricks. One assumption that we make is that our readers are all Android proficient, or at least know how to use their Android handset. Apparently, this is not the case. Some users who have switched from the normal “dumb” phone to an Android handset have found it difficult to use. So here we are, writing this beginner guide, giving new Android users a good orientation of their phones and how to use it effectively.

Android and Google – the unbreakable link

First of all, you need to know that Android was developed by Google. It is therefore closely linked to your Google account. When you first power on your Android phone, it will prompt you to setup your Google account, after which it will link your Google Contacts, Gmail and Google calendar to your phone.


The main screen

The main screen is akin to your desktop in your computer. This is the place where you are going to spend countless of hours staring at. A typical Android phone can come with 3 – 7 screens. You can slide your finger on the screen to move to the left or right screens. The icons you see at the main screen are the application launcher. In another word, they are shortcut to your applications, like Gmail, Calculator etc. We will discus more on applications later.


Other than the icons, there is also this thing call widget. Widgets are interactive apps that can update itself on the background and show information on the main screen. Example are the clock widget, weather widget, Facebook widget etc.

Adding Applications/widgets to the main screen

To add application to the main screen, press and hold your finger on an empty space on the screen. A window will popup, asking you what you want to add. Select Shortcut follow by Application. You can then select from the list of applications the app you want to place on the main screen. Using a similar method, you can also place widget on the main screen.


The application drawer

At the bottom center of the main screen, you will see an icon. When click, it will display the full list of the applications installed in your Android phone. This is akin to the Start menu in Windows, where you can view and launch apps. Every single application that you have installed can be found here.


The notification bar

The notification bar is the top most bar (that contain the time, battery status and signal strength). This is where all the notification are shown. Now, press your finger on the top most bar and drag it down. You will see that the notification bar start to open up. You can then view all notification in the list. To exit, either press the Back button or Home button.


The Buttons

Most, if not all, Android phone comes with four buttons: Back, Menu, Home, Search. The Back button is similar to the Back button in your browser. At any point of time, you can press the Back button to return to the previous page/settings/application etc. If you are typing with the onscreen keyboard, pressing the Back button will hide the keyboard.


The Home button is similar to the “Show Desktop” button in Windows. When you press the Home button, it will hide your existing app and bring you back to your main screen. You can press and hold the Home button to access your recently used apps.

The functionality of the Menu button is dynamic and will change depend on where you are. If you are at the main screen, pressing the Menu button allows you to change wallpaper, change system setting, show notification bar etc. Within an app, pressing the Menu button will show the options for the app. At any point of time, press and hold the Menu button will bring up the onscreen keyboard.


Lastly, the Search button allows you to perform a search. On the main screen, pressing the Search button allows you search anything in the phone (files, Web search, apps etc). When used within an app, the search button will search only within the app (and provided the app supports the search feature).

Configuring the phone settings

On the main screen, press the Menu button and tap on Setting. This will bring you to the settings page of the Android system. To turn on your wireless, go to “Wireless and Network” and tap Turn On.


There are plenty of settings over here, ranging from Wireless networks, Applications, Sound, Security, Display etc. Do take your time to go through each and everyone of the settings.

Installing apps from the market

Most, if not all, Android phones come with a Market application that you can use to install third-party apps. Open the Market app (you must be connected to the Internet). From here, you can browse the apps sorted in various categories such as Productivity, Games, Communication etc. Once you found the app you like, tap the Install button to install the app. It will then show you the access permissions requested by the app. Be sure to check the permissions thoroughly before tapping OK.


The app will proceed to install in your phone and notify you when it is done.


Apps come in two form: paid and free. Paid apps are only available in certain countries, so if you didn’t see any paid apps in your Market, don’t be panic. To pay for paid apps, you need to setup your Google Checkout account (it will probably support Paypal as well in the future).

Uninstalling apps

To uninstall apps, go to “Settings -> Applications -> Manage Application“. You will find a list of installed application here. Scroll to the application that you want to delete and tap on it. You will then be presented with a Uninstall button.


More resources for you:

That’s it for now. We will be covering in more detail about Android. Do check back this site frequently for more update, or better still, subscribe to our RSS feed, newsletter or follow us at Facebook or Twitter.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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