So you got a shiny new Android for Christmas? Before showing it off to all your Apple-loving friends, the device should be fully optimized at the start. Taking a couple measures ahead of time will make for a better experience later.
If you're a brand new Android owner, the phone's operating system is likely Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich. You shouldn't have to upgrade anything, but there might be newer versions of built-in apps. (We'll get to that later.)
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Switching from an older Android requires a bit more prep, but it's not impossible. Once you have a Google account, simply log in and sync accounts to receive your email and contacts. Some of your data, like photos and apps, will not transfer as easily, but there are a few ways to get around that.
The easiest way is to purchase the MyBackup Pro app. It'll cost you $4, but the app backs up data and restores it to a new device.
If you'd rather start with a clean slate, without losing old photos, store all of your data in the cloud. Apps like Dropbox will back up data, but you can manually restore specific items to the new device.
Apps will need to be re-downloaded manually on a new device. Any apps purchased on a former Android will not need to be purchased again, but you will have to download those again, too.
The first thing to do before playing around with your new phone is to set up a Wi-Fi connection.
Hit the Menu button, and choose Settings. Then select Wireless & Networks and connect to the proper Wi-Fi as you would anywhere with a computer.
You'll also have the option to connect to mobile networks -- those settings can be found in the same menu. Your phone runs on 3G or 4G mobile networks when there is not a Wi-Fi connection.
It's important to connect your phone to Wi-Fi when it's available, because running on mobile networks uses data. Each download will cost data, which can quickly run over when you first get a new phone and want to try new apps. Running over on data can be very expensive.
Apps on Apps on Apps
Now that you're up and running, it's time to dive into the Google Play Store and get the apps that will make your life easier and more efficient.
There are so many apps for every aspect of your life. It depends on whether you want something entertaining, educational, fun, informative, creative or navigational. Sifting through apps can feel overwhelming -- trial and error is the best way to approach the task. You can always uninstall an app if you don't want it.
If you plan on purchasing anything, you'll need a credit card. Your information will be stored securely, so you'll only need to enter this once. But that doesn't mean you have to spend money -- there are plenty of free apps that will help you just as effectively.
Your phone will already have built-in apps, which differ with every manufacturer. These are likely due for an update before you even log into the new device. You can update them all at once by opening the Play Store, tapping the Menu button and selecting "My Apps."
The Google Play Store can be accessed and adjusted from your phone or a desktop when logged into your Google account. You can install, update or remove any app from your phone via the store.
Google's native apps should already be built in the device. If you can't function without these tools -- which is likely why you went with Android -- you won't be disappointed with the mobile versions.
If you juggle more than one email address, Gmail will access multiple accounts in one device.
Google Maps is a seamless GPS system, plus the updated app gives offline maps, indoor navigation and recommendations for nearby places.
Facebook's native app favors Android devices. The app closely mirrors what you'd see on a desktop, making it easy to navigate. Like any other app, it has pre-fixed settings, so you might need to adjust, depending on your preferences.
After downloading and logging in to your account, hit the Menu button and select Settings. If you don't want to use Facebook Chat from your phone, make sure Chat Availability is off. You can also adjust notifications so they only push the updates most important to you.
If you choose to sync your Facebook friends, they will automatically appear in your contact list if they share their phone number. When you agree to use the Facebook app, it shows your phone number on your profile. If you don't want to share your number with friends, be sure to edit your contact info so that information is only available to you. The easiest way to do so is from a desktop.
Setup for Twitter is pretty straightforward. You can adjust syncing and push notifications, just like you did for Facebook, by going to Settings from the Menu button.
If there is one good thing about Google+, it's the syncing features that come with an Android device. If you don't use the network as a social place, it can function as an automatic storage space. For example, if you take a photo with your phone, it will save to your Google+ account, even if you delete the photo from your device.
Of course, there are plenty of other social networks, so test them out and judge for yourself. If you don't like one (or any app, for that matter) you can always uninstall it from the Google Play Store, just as you would update it.
Your new Android replaces the need to carry multiple devices, including an MP3 player. If you're gung-ho Google, the native Music app stores all of your files in the cloud, so you can easily switch from device to computer.
There is no native iTunes app, but that's nothing a little hack can't work around. DoubleTwist is worth the $5 pricetag if you cannot live without your iPod. Also, your iTunes library syncs over Wi-Fi -- no wires required.
There are other great apps for music lovers on the go. Spotify is the best service for sharing and discovering music. You can send friends songs, albums and playlists. The free service features a nearly limitless music library, or you can upgrade to premium for an unlimited, ad-free experience.
Are you and Android user? Share any advice for first-timers in the comments below.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- Technology & Electronics