android_questions_720Just bought a new Android phone? Congratulations, you’re going to love it! The Android club is pretty great stuff and we think you’ll appreciate its flexibility. There’s all kinds of wonderful things you can do to make the phone your own and customize it to your liking. With that in mind, we’ve found that new Android users often ask the same questions over and over.  How do we know? Because we field your emails and tweets and we’ve seen patterns emerge.

Savvy and seasoned users might get off and running quickly however there are those out there who need their hands held a bit. You know that uncle who finally bought and Android and has already stared calling you with questions? Point him here. This is a collection of ten of the most common questions that Android users ask and chances are good that he could learn a thing or two from the list.

We’ll be putting together another list or two along these lines and will dig deeper on more specific points as well. Look for those down the road!

Ten of the most common Android questions.

  • How do I add a new email account?
  • Where do I find apps and games?
  • How do I uninstall apps or games?
  • How do I change the wallpaper?
  • How do I create a new contact?
  • How do I toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc?
  • How do I check to see if there is an Android update?
  • How do I lock my Android?
  • How do I add an icon or widget to the home screen?
  • How do I adjust screen brightness?

How do I add a new email account?

Chances are high that when you’ll create or log into your account when you first power on your Android smartphone or tablet.  For many of us, however, we have multiple email addresses or accounts that we’d like to manage from our mobile device. Be it Yahoo!, Hotmail, or some other personal account, adding a new one is no problem.

In most instances, the quickest way to add an account is to open the Settings app on your device.  Scroll to Accounts and you’ll see an option to “Add New”. From there it’s a matter of entering your credentials and waiting for the sync.

Some manufacturers or versions of Android may not be so simple but, rest assured, it’s nowhere near as difficult as it sounds. Many apps, such as Gmail, let users add new accounts directly from within the app itself. Should you add a Google account (Gmail, Google Apps) to your email, you will also see the same account elsewhere on the device. This is includes, but is not limited to, Google Play, YouTube, Google Play Music, and Google Books. Once you are familiarized with the phone, you can also go in and manually adjust sync settings on your accounts.

Where do I find apps and games?

You finally got yourself a smartphone and now you’re wondering, “Where are all these apps that everyone keeps talking about?” We’ll show you how to get  Angry Bird, Temple Run, and all those other popular titles.

In many cases, a new phone will feature an icon to Google Play right on the home screen.  If you’ve already created an account for (or logged into) your device then you’ll be off and running. If you don’t see the Google Play icon on the home screen, you can open up the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone. Scroll through your app list until you see Google Play and there you go! A single tap and you’re off to download new and wonderful apps!

How do I uninstall apps or games?

So you downloaded a game that everyone kept talking about but find you hate it.  Or, perhaps you just don’t get the attraction of Instagram.  What to do now? Uninstall it, that’s what.  There’s no sense in keeping an app on your phone that takes up space and clutters your app tray.

To uninstall Android apps or games, head to your app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone. Scroll until you reach the Settings app and then look for Application Manager, Apps, or something similar.

Generally, you’ll find that all of your apps are listed here in alphabetical order.  Tapping the app you’d like to remove will bring up options such as Uninstall, Force Stop, Clear Data, etc. As you’d guess, you want to tap Uninstall.

How do I change the wallpaper?

Would you like to change that background image (wallpaper) on your phone to something different or more personal? That’s really easy to do and there are usually a few ways to do so.

The first way we would recommend trying is to long press (tap and hold for a few seconds) on the home screen to see if a menu screen comes up. Should that not work then move on to the next method. Open the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see Settings.  Open that up and look for an option for Display.

Many, but not all, handset makers list the wallpaper settings here. HTC phones, for instance, put their wallpaper settings under Personalize, which can be accessed from the notification bar or by pressing menu on the home screen. When in doubt, long press or tap the menu button to see what options pop up.

How do I create a new contact?

One of the great features that we came to love in Android’s first build was the cloud-based contact system. Forget losing track of names and numbers over the course of new smartphones, our friends and family would be stored in one spot, accessible and synchronized everywhere.

Things have evolved over time and now we can set up multiple phone numbers, emails, and social networking profiles. Generally speaking, Android contacts can be created by heading to your app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone. From there, look for an app called simply, Contacts.

In Android 4.0 or later you may come across a People app.  The same actually applies for HTC handsets as well. Once opening up the app, it should be pretty straightforward to create a new contact. Remember that you will want to save the contact to your Google or cloud account so that it can be edited, synchronized, and accessed from various places.

Another way to create a new contact is to go into the phone application.  In many scenarios you can long press (tap and hold for a few seconds) on the home screen to see if a menu screen comes up. We’re willing to bet that you will see something along the lines of Create New or Modify Existing.

For those of you who use a lot of Google service, we recommend opening up GMail or Google+ and managing contacts. With so many of Google’s services working with each other, creating them in one spot will see that they show up in others.

How do I toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc?

As nice as it is to have Wi-Fi, GPS, or Bluetooth running on our devices, it’s not always necessary. Every once in a while we need to turn on off or on to preserve battery or to connect with another device.

Early and existing versions of Android allow for easy access and toggling of our connections and options through the settings.  Open the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see Settings.

Typically, the first things you’ll see here are wireless and network settings and you’re but a quick tap away from turning on Wi-Fi or enabling Bluetooth. New versions of Android  (4.2) have a second dropdown menu from the notification bar which can be accessed by swiping the right hand side. A menu of quick settings appears on top of the home screen letting users hop directly to the same toggles. Select handsets also make it pretty easy to access settings in the notification bar that displays your missed calls and email alerts. Simply swipe down from the top of your screen and you may see some of the more common settings right there.

Finally, there’s a chance that you can also hit the menu button on the homescreen of your Android to reveal settings. Samsung does this for a lot of their devices, providing one less hurdle between you and turning on Bluetooth.

How do I check to see if there is an Android update?

Maybe you bought your Android handset secondhand. Perhaps you’ve switched devices over time and are returning to your first smartphone. Whatever the case, you want to check to see if there’s a software update available. All this talk about Ice Cream Sandwiches and Jelly Beans is for a reason, right?

Each device is a bit different but many of them use the same tactics for software updates.  And, if you’ve done it a time or two on one model, you’ll be able to figure it out on others. As you probably have guessed by now, you’ll start by opening up the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see Settings. 

In many cases, you’ll scroll to the very bottom of the menu until you see System update, Software update, or About phone. Your phone is designed to periodically check for updates so you may see something that references the last time it searched for an update. It’s possible that you may also see references to firmware, software, profiles, PRL, or general Android updates. It doesn’t hurt to check for updates on any or all of these.

How do I lock my Android?

Face it – you’ve got stuff on your phone that is invaluable to you and it would be a problem if it got into the hands of others. Okay, maybe you might not have something critical but it would still be a problem if someone were to get into your phone. What do you do to combat prying eyes, overly jealous lovers, or snooping colleagues? Put a layer of protection on the home screen, that’s what.

This isn’t about putting a third party app or some deep-level of security on your phone, it’s about applying a barrier to keep unwanted folks out. We’ll address deeper security and encryption at a later date.

Android offers a number of security screen options that give users peace of mind, adding new and innovative stuff along the way.  You can employ a pattern unlock, PIN, facial recognition, password or a combination of things. Start by opening up the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see Settings. 

Again, your experience will vary depending on manufacturer and version of Android; however, you should look for something that smells of locking. Lock Screen, Display, or Screen Lock are some of the more common tabs you’ll run into here.  Once you’re in there you’ll likely see settings for the various ways of locking.

Feel free to play around with your lock screen options but don’t forget your password. Also, we recommend setting up some owner information to display on the lock screen. This way, a good-deed-doer can return your phone to the proper place should you leave it at a coffee shop.

How do I add an icon or widget to the home screen?

This is one of those tips that is much easier to do than you might suspect. Early versions of Android made it easy to add an app icon/shortcut with a simple long press (tap and hold for a few seconds) on the home screen. The same goes for widgets as long pressing often yields contextual menus.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and later versions changed things up a bit by putting widgets in the app tray. Yes, the same place you go to find apps is now the spot where you’ll find a tab of widgets. Note that various handset makers will tweak the experience a bit and that your results may vary. In some case you might see Add to home screen or Apps and shortcuts, or something similar.

Another way to add something to your home screen is to open app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see the app, game, or widget that you want to put on your screen. Long press on the icon and drag it to your home screen, placing it where it feels right or fits best.

How do I adjust screen brightness?

Open the app tray (usually an icon that looks like small squares) at the bottom of your phone and scroll until you see Settings. Once in there you will likely come across a tab or menu option for brightness or display. HTC, for instance, lists this under Display & gesture. Samsung, on the other hand, will often put the slider directly in the dropdown which is accessible by swiping down from the notification bar.

You can slide the brightness up and down and manually set things however we recommend using the auto-adjust if possible. This way you screen doesn’t get any brighter than it needs be and helps extend the life of your battery.

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (and later) also gives users a quick and easy way to access display settings.  A menu of quick settings appears on top of the home screen letting users hop directly to the same toggles. Get to your brightness by swiping down and tapping the brightness icon.

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