Your guide to Android
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Your guide to Android Apps
What is Android?
Google Android is quite simply revolutionary, and that’s saying something in a world
where mobile phones now pack in every last feature from built-in cameras, MP3
players and web browsers to the not-so-revolutionary ability to make and receive
calls from just about anywhere.
Android liberates your handset from a glitzy, but fixed device into something much
more liquid, a tool that can be moulded to your requirements rather than the other
Navigate your Android-powered phone
Part of Android’s success is down to the fact it turns your mobile into a handheld
computer, with its own open-source operating system, large-screen display and
support for an infinite number and variety of plug-ins known as Apps.
The touch-screen enables you to navigate your phone’s features quickly and easily,
and this user interface is in a constant state of development, resulting in an ever-
improving experience for the end user. The touch-screen keyboard is a headline
feature for those with keyboard-less handsets - it pops up whenever you tap inside
a box or form, and provides tactile feedback in the form of vibrations and sound to
give you a more realistic typing experience. Auto-correct features help minimise
spelling mistakes, while you can even bypass the keyboard altogether when
searching by utilising its new Search by Voice feature.
You can use your handset in landscape or portrait mode - as you flip the screen,
Android adjusts to your new position, enabling you to take advantage of whichever
aspect ratio suits you best for that particular task.
Get started quickly
Android contains everything you need to get started quickly: a web browser, email
tool, contacts manager, music player, and camera and camcorder utilities. Your
Android-powered handset comes with a SD card slot, enabling you to quickly and
easily expand its storage capabilities, enabling you to use your mobile phone as a
camera and portable video recorder.
Your guide to Android Apps
Your “home page”, the screen that appears when you first power up your handset,
can be customised as you see fit, enabling you to place shortcuts to favourite apps,
widgets and web sites among other things.
Exploit the power of the web
Android is more than simply a tool for accessing the internet on the move - it
takes full advantage of the technologies built into your handset to deliver features
and functionality your laptop or PC can’t deliver. Take the handset’s built-in video
recorder: in the space of minutes you can have shot your video, saved it and then
shared it via email, SMS or by uploading it to YouTube - all without having to power
up your PC.
Thanks to your handset’s built-in GPS receiver, you’ll never worry about getting lost
again. This works in conjunction with your internet connection and the Maps app
to provide you with access to Google’s Maps, all centred on your current location.
Need more visual clues about where you are? Switch to Street View for a bird’s eye
view of your surroundings, helping you orient yourself easily. If your handset has a
built-in compass, you can even use this in conjunction with Maps, enabling you to
rotate the view shown simply by moving your phone in the appropriate direction
you wish to look. You can even purchase an App that turns your phone into a sat-
nav device, enabling you to cut back on the number of gadgets cluttering up
your home - and at £26, CoPilot Live works out cheaper than a dedicated sat-nav
An App for every occasion
Part of Android’s secret is its open-source background, which encourages anyone
and everyone to develop Apps, which plug into your phone and provide extra
functionality. There are thousands available - some paid-for, others completely free
- and you can browse them all from your handset.
Manage your fitness and diet, play games, get the latest footy scores, keep in touch
with Twitter - it’s all here, and more Apps are appearing all the time.
The best Apps take advantage of your phone’s extra features to offer unique
Your guide to Android Apps
services you couldn’t get elsewhere. For example, Qype Radar provides you with
thousands of reviews of hotels, attractions, restaurants and more based on your
current location, while ScanTell enables you to get more information (and compare
prices online) about any CD, DVD, book or video game simply by snapping its cover
or barcode with your handset’s camera.
Tap into Google
Android takes full advantage of its links with Google to take full advantage of its
search capabilities. The Maps app is one example of this, tapping into Google Maps,
but plans are afoot to enable you to tap into other Google services too, including
full access to Google Docs, enabling you to view and edit your documents directly
from your Android-powered handset. In the meantime, the enthusiast community
has moved to plug the temporary gap: GDocs is a free App that enables you to edit
and synchronize files with your Google Docs account, albeit without support for
The beauty of Android is that it’s so customisable and extendable that the sky
literally is the limit. A recent update introduced the on-screen keyboard, video
recording capabilities and stereo Bluetooth for hands-free calling and listening, but
that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If there’s no App out there for what you want to do right now, you can be sure it
won’t be long in coming, and those with programming experience might be inspired
to try themselves when they see what resources are freely available for wannabe
Android programmers. Now Android is out there and established, Google is ready to
push the boundaries, which can only be good news for mobile phone enthusiasts.