Just Got Your First Android Device? Here Are Simple Answers To Your Everyday Questions

Joel Lee 09-11-2012

android tips and tricksThe popularity of Android has been on a slow but steady rise. If you aren’t using an iPhone, then your options are pretty limited: Blackberry for the business folk, Android for the everyday iPhone equivalent, then Windows Phone for the rest. Of those 3 alternatives, Android is the most popular. So if you’re just starting off with an Android device, you probably have a few questions on how to proceed.


I’ll be honest–I was a latecomer to the world of smartphones. Yep, I was using an old Samsung flip-phone until Fall 2011 when my contract renewed and I was able to grab an Android phone for free. As a newbie, I had a ton of questions. How do I do this? Where can I get that? The learning process was frustrating, but fun.

Here are some common questions that Android newbies might ask. If you’re new to Android, the answers may help to ease your transition.

1. What is Android?

Android is an operating system based on Linux that has been designed for use in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The chief developer behind Android is Google, though they work in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance, an organization that aims to develop and maintain standards for mobile devices.

2. Why Android?

android tips and tricks

There are a number of reasons why users could prefer Android over competing mobile operating systems:

  • User choice. Android can be used on hundreds of handsets and tablets. Instead of being pigeonholed into a particular device, users have the option of choosing which device they would prefer to use.
  • Customization. Because Android is an open source operating system, it can be modified by users. If you have the required expertise, you could very well change fundamental functions of the phone to fit your own desires.
  • Google. As the number two largest tech company in the world, Google has proven itself as a competent business. It’s competitors–Microsoft and Apple–are also competent businesses, but some users prefer the way Google does business.

Of course, there are other reasons, too, but these are the main ones that often win users over. None of this is to say that Android is the best mobile operating system–that would be up to personal preference.

3. Where do Android’s version names come from?

You may have noticed a delicious trend in the way Android likes to name its versions: Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean. As I type them right now, my mouth is starting to water.

In essence, Android names each successive version after a dessert that starts with the next letter of the English alphabet. That’s all.

4. Do I need a Google account to use an Android phone?

Technically? No. The phone itself will work just fine without a Google account. However, if you want to take advantage of Google Play–to download apps–then yes, you will need a Google account.


Furthermore, Android actually uses Google accounts to sync phone data if you allow it to. This means that your phone setup is stored on Google’s servers in case something goes wrong and you lose all of your data or something, you’ll be able to go back to a previous version.

5. What are these buttons on my Android phone?

android tips

The majority of Android devices come with 4 hardware buttons that are built into the phone. These buttons are (in the sequence shown above):

  • Back: This button will take you back one step to whatever you were doing before your current step. For example, in a web browser, it’ll take you back to the previous page.
  • Menu: Depending on when you tap this button, something will happen. Usually, if you’re inside an app, you’ll be presented with a number of choices. For the most part, it’s used for accessing an app’s settings.
  • Search: If you’re on the home screen, this button will show you a search bar that takes you to search results in a web browser. If you’re in a program, however, usually it will result in finding a specific phrase in that program (like the Find function in Word).
  • Home: If you single tap, this button will take you back to the home screen. If you hold the button, however, it’ll show you a list of all running apps, allowing you to quickly switch between them or close them.

6. How customizable is Android?

The answer is, of course, very customizable. Once you get past the numerous choices of which device you want, you’ll then be able to ponder just which software you want.


Like other mobile operating systems, Android has app functionality. Through Google Play, you can download and install various apps that improve your phone in different ways. There are: games to stave off boredom; productivity apps to keep you sharp and punctual; themes and skins that change how things look; and more.

But unlike other mobile operating systems, Android gives you the freedom to install new ROMs. ROMs are basically other versions of Android. Each ROM is unique in that they are each designed for different purposes. Some ROMs are designed to be fast at the cost of features; others are designed to pack in as many features as they can.

If you know anything about Linux, you can think of ROMs as different flavors of Linux. One ROM might be a Fedora, another could be Red Hat, while another ROM could be Ubuntu. Each is Linux, but they’re all different in noticeable ways. Same with Android and its ROMs.

7. How can I customize my Android home screen?

android tips


You can customize your home screen by holding down on icons and moving them around or deleting them. There are three main ways to customize the home screen: wallpapers, app shortcuts from the app drawer, and widgets.

8. What’s the difference between “home screen” and “app drawer”?

android tips

This distinction is one of the big differences between Android and iOS. In iOS, when you install new apps, they are placed directly on the home screen. If you fill up your screen, the app icons overflow into the next page. If you want to hide those icons, you can’t–at least not without fiddling with your phone in ways that could void your warranty.

In Android, however, all of your apps are kept in the app drawer. The home screen, then, only contains shortcut icons to the actual apps. Think of it like a Windows PC: your programs are installed into various locations on your computer, but only the shortcuts that you want appear on the desktop. In the screenshot above you can see a home screen to the left (emptier), and an app drawer to the right (a grid full of icons).

9. And what are widgets?

android answers

Widgets are dynamic elements that operate directly on the home screen. Every widget looks different and can do pretty much anything that the programmer wants it to do. It sounds confusing, I know, but hopefully I can clear it up.

One widget that you might know is the weather widget. This widget sits on your home screen and displays the current temperature and current weather conditions. It updates over time depending on weather changes.

Another widget you might know is an email inbox widget. This one sits on your home screen and updates every time you receive a new email, allowing you to stay on top of your email as soon as it comes in.

Android comes with a few default widgets, but most of the popular ones are developed by hobby programmers and third-party developers. Widgets can be downloaded on Google Play.

10. What is the “notification bar”?

android tips and tricks

At the top of your screen, you’ll see a bar that stretched across. This bar will display icons for all of the services currently running on your device, as well as showing you WiFi signal strength, reception bars, time, and more.

If you press and drag the notification bar down, it’ll open up to show you a bunch of notifications (if you have any). This way, you aren’t bombarded by popups and messages every time an app wants to notify you of something.

11. How do I transfer files from my computer to my phone?

The quickest way is to connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable. Once you enable USB storage on your phone, you can freely transfer files back and forth just as if you were transferring files to an external hard drive.

There are other ways, such as through Bluetooth or WiFi, but they are more convoluted and would require an article onto themselves.

12. How do I add apps to Android?

There are two ways you can add apps to your Android device: 1) through Google Play on your phone, or 2) through Google Play on the web.

If you open the Google Play app on your device, you can search the market and find different apps, both free and paid. The operating system handles everything for you, so once you find an app that you want and you click “Install,” you won’t have to do anything else.

If you log into Google Play online using your Google account (the same one you use for your device), then you can actually install straight to your device through your browser. Very convenient.

There are other app-downloading services and markets, like Amazon App Store, but they are another topic altogether.

13. How do I install a new ROM on Android?

Our very own Ryan Dube actually wrote up a post detailing how you can install a custom ROM on your Android device How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device Ready to revitalize your Android phone or tablet? Installing a custom ROM is the best way to do that -- powering it up with even better performance and features. Read More . Be aware, however, that ROM installation is an advanced topic and doing it incorrectly could render your phone bricked.

What is “bricked,” you ask? It means your phone no longer starts up, making it no more useful than a paperweight. A brick, you could say. For more on Android-related terminology and jargon, check out this article with a mini Android glossary Want to Customize Your Android Device, But Not Sure Where to Start? Android’s openness is one of its greatest strengths and makes it possible for most devices to be modified in a number of ways. Customizing your device can add new features and make it feel like... Read More .

Hopefully these questions were pertinent to you and you have a better understanding of Android. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, feel free to ask it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Image Credit: Apple & Android Via

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  1. Sam Rosario
    May 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Yeah so my first android phone is a month old. And i wish it had the below facilities:

    1) If i cud click any number in the call log and if i cud see the number of times that person has called me or smsed me. The ICS doesnt have this feature but the earlier version had this i guess.

    2) Also if cud select a multiple group of numbers and group them into a say XYZ group that wud be great. In ICS i have to type a contact name manually to add a contact to a group -one at a time. Mot so nice.

  2. Shabbir
    March 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Hey can anyone tell me which is a better custom ROM for HTC incredible s(India)?? and where would i find one???

  3. Jeff Fisher
    March 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    How do I add apps to Android?
    You can download apps to your PC and transfer to your tablet/phone using Airdroid.
    Or, you can sync Firefox on your PC to your tablet/phone and transfer apps that way. Go to Tools in Firefox and click on "Set Up Sync". Further details are contained on the Firefox page.

  4. Jeff Fisher
    March 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    How do I transfer files from my computer to my phone?
    I think the easiest way is to use Airdroid - available in the Play Store.
    It's easy once you've tried it. It doesn't need a cable - it's wireless and saves masses of time.

  5. manvi
    December 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    where do i get those lovely wallpapers in the photos?

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      They came bundled with my ROM. I'm using Jelly Bean 4.1 and I think those wallpapers are default for it. I'm sure if you searched Google for Jelly Bean 4.1 wallpapers, you could find something similar!

      • manvi
        December 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

        okss.. thanks
        its not the same with misfit sizes and resolutions, plus sometimes you don't find the thing you are looking for (yes, sometimes i don't find something on THE Internet!). I have Samsung's Touchwiz which comes bundled with <10 wallpapers (sans live wps), some of which they should be ashamed of. seriously, they can do better!

        kudos on the informative & helpful article.

  6. Thomas Weatherly
    November 16, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Is it excessively risky to operate a rooted phone? I have some apps only run on rooted phone such as CacheMate, Droidwall, and Root Explorer, etc.

    • Thomas Weatherly
      November 16, 2012 at 4:04 am

      I apologize for double, now triple, post. I didn't reload page. Forgive me.

      • Joel Lee
        November 16, 2012 at 5:21 am

        Hey Thomas. Don't worry about it, haha.

        Operating on a rooted phone is theoretically more risky, yes, but in actuality, it depends on how cautious you are. If you remember not to install sketchy apps and if you don't browse shady websites, then you should be okay. For maximum security, though, unrooted is best.

        However, if you have any apps that require root, then they will stop working if you unroot your phone. So, that decision is ultimately up to you.

  7. Thomas Weatherly
    November 16, 2012 at 3:59 am

    If one roots a phone, should one operate it rooted or unroot it once the bloatware is removed. I operate a rooted phone, installed some apps only work on rooted phone (e.g. Droidwall, CacheMate, Root Explorer), but if it's excessively risky may reconsider.

  8. Harry Barnes
    November 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Get ready for android key lime pie....

  9. Jim Spencer
    November 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

    An excellent article on Android, and shows me why I was wise in choosing that over the Apple Ios. As to getting used to features, I am trying out the new Galaxy Note II, and it is blazing fast! My hats off to Android for keeping the heat on iPhone!

  10. Sean A
    November 15, 2012 at 1:03 am

    To be honest everything on here was already known to me except one thing. That would be how they get the version names. I understood the sweet part but had not even noticed the alphabetical side of things. Thanks for that little fun fact.

  11. David
    November 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Great article. Ashamed to say I have been using Android for a year and still learned a couple of new things. Thanks.

    • Joel Lee
      November 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      I'm constantly learning new things, too! Glad you got some use out of this article. :)

  12. Edward Bellair
    November 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Always good to see info on the things you dont spend a lot of time doing. Thank you.

  13. Eric Wilborn
    November 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Great write up.. I'll be pointing people to this instead of answering their questions personally ;)

  14. Jeff Grant
    November 14, 2012 at 3:49 am

    I recently bought one of those Chinese "android 4.01 tablets" off the Web, the problem is, I haven't been able to connect to WiFi, it says: "obtaining ip address ", and stops there. Do you know of some solution?, any help will be appreciated.

  15. James Lewis
    November 14, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Good. received newsletter for this article. I'm saving this for the day im buying my very first android. Currently using Nokia Asha

  16. Brian
    November 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Uniloc sues developer for using technology provided by Google. Google refuses to aid in defense. Uniloc is a troll.

  17. Marcus
    November 13, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I am in the process of getting a smart phone, I am more inclined to buy an Android phone. So, I am thinking of getting the galaxy S3, but I have come across a lot users/friends are having "hanging" problem or the phone just get stuck out of no reason, and it has to be reset in order to get it working.

    So my question here is, have you got any bad experience in using an Android phone?
    Or basically, is an Android phone stable enough?

    • Joel Lee
      November 14, 2012 at 3:56 am

      I use an old Android model and it slows down over time. Sometimes it'll freeze, but it's rare. Honestly, it's not much worse than my girlfriend's iPhone 4. As for the later models, I don't have personal experience, but according to my friend his Galaxy S3 never fails.

      • Marcus
        November 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

        OK thanks for your comment.

    • Thomas Weatherly
      November 16, 2012 at 4:25 am

      I considered buying the S III, but my practice with operating systems desktop or mobiles is to wait until the problems are discovered and solved. I never buy one when it first comes out. I read the specs of the S III, marvelous. Instead I bought the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze, most of the same technology (NFC, Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, etc.), the screen little smaller. It came out beginning of year. I really like it. I will buy the S III next year sometime, use Blaze as backup. Haven't had any problems. I rooted it, removed carrier bloatware, 20 apps, either freeze or outright deletion. Made backup of all. I don't plan to upgrade it to ICS because I like to buy the upgrade of OSs with a new phone. Only problem I've had with Android phone is with my first, an LG phone, the myTouch Q. It took almost 2 minutes to start up, and even after rooted, removal of bloatware apps, it still took almost a minute to startup.
      The Blaze does not belie its name; it starts up fast.. And on my home network it has download speeds 14 to 21 Mbps (thats bits) on wifi. I use it on wifi always at home.

      You can find the full specs here:

  18. Adhi Noegroho
    November 13, 2012 at 3:15 am

    I wonder how can we upgrade the Android Phone? is there any other way to upgrade such Blackberry for example? thank you, Joel! :)

  19. raon
    November 13, 2012 at 1:22 am

    This is great information

  20. Nancy B
    November 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Good article.
    I'm still using an LG Rumour (been eligible for an upgrade for 2 years) but I'm with Solo and if I get a new phone they move me to Bell (not going thru that again!).
    Anyway, my contract is up in the spring and looking at changing companies, now that Solo is being discontinued. So many choices and a bit confused. I have heard better things about Android based phones even over Blackberry. My main thing I want is so I can adjust the font to be larger, and the phone and additional things not to confuse me!

    I don't use the web on my phone as right now it's too expensive and texting is annoying as I have to stop, pull over, find my reading glasses and answer, then when ready to go invariably they call back with "OK" or "bye".... argh!

    I'm thinking still on just keeping with talk and text over adding in a data plan, especially when they say you can use up to 100 Mb on the base plan and I have no idea what that is! How do I know when I'm over? Seems to me just to read about 40 emails a day would put me over?

    Can you give me a clue on that?
    And which are the best basic Android phones for us non-techie people? in maybe a new article or just a little advise here.

    • Joel Lee
      November 13, 2012 at 1:11 am

      Is 100 MB enough? It depends on what you do. Streaming videos and music takes up a lot of bandwidth, as does downloading stuff. Web browsing can use a lot of data depending on the types of websites you visit. On the other hand, checking emails won't use up too much.

      As long as you keep an eye on your data usage and turn off data when you aren't using it, 100 MB should be more than enough. If you have WiFi, you can use that in place of data for big-bandwidth stuff like downloading.

      On Android, you can use 3G Watchdog (app) to monitor data usage on your phone.

      As for basic Android phones, it really depends on your carrier and some other factors. But I think a good recommendation for a really basic Android phone is the original Galaxy S line, which is what I use. Don't confuse it with the Galaxy S2 or S3 (which was just released recently).

      The Galaxy S line includes the following models: Captivate (AT&T), Vibrant (T-Mobile), Fascinate (Verizon). I believe Bell carries the Vibrant model.

      • Nancy B
        November 13, 2012 at 1:54 am

        Thanks for your advise Joel!

  21. Debbie Kightlinger
    November 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Is there any previous articles about basic Droid users? I am a real newbie of just a week. Never had a smartphone, downloaded the 276 page user manual off the internet and needless to say it is overwhelming.

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      I'm not sure which manual you downloaded off the Internet, but MakeUseOf has an introductory guide to Android from September 2011. Some of it may be outdated (such as phone models) but a lot of the information should be good. Hopefully that helps!

  22. Judy
    November 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Is there a way to get rid of the default music player? I play speech, not music and have installed something that works better with speech (remembers your place). However, I do not seem to be able to make the new player the default for everything or to get rid of the android player.

    • Cho
      November 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      go to the :apps" drawer; and "long-press" (hold down on) the app Icon.
      This will pop-up a "remove" Icon. Keep holding down on the app and drag it to the "remove" Icon. Release the finger and app is gone.
      go to "settings">apps>uninstall.
      log onto web "play" store and "Uninstall" from your "Device"

      • judy
        November 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        Does not seem to work.

        i. no icon - but when I press on other apps no "remove" option
        ii uuninstall is not an option offered

        iii on play store only the apps I've downloaded sho up (even though I select "all"

        I'm on android 2.3.4 and think I'm stuck with it unless I get my phone rooted. I do not want to risk that.

    • Cho
      November 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      To make an "app" default; goto settings>apps> and set as default.

    • Sebastian C.
      November 13, 2012 at 3:36 am

      That's a good question. If the music player is not installed on your device as a system app then you would be able to remove it from the application manager. If it is a system app (meaning it came installed with your ROM), then you could of course remove it, or at least disable it, provided that your device is rooted.

      For a quick and simple way to reset the default application preference look in the Play store for 'DefaultApp Reset'. It's what I use.

  23. Nohl Lyons
    November 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    With some of the coolest phones ever being released using Android, this is a very timely article. Well done.

  24. Shmuel Mendelsohn
    November 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    As usual, a very informative article. As a programmer/technician people expect me to know everything. In the eighties and nineties it was possible; now there is way too much. You people make it a lot easier and I appreciate it!

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      You're welcome! We appreciate your comments just the same. :)

  25. Hardik Ashar
    November 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    superb introduction for newbies!!

  26. Boni Oloff
    November 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I never realize that the version name is alphabethical sorted.. :D

  27. mohit kumar
    November 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Good article for newcomers.

  28. Roystan Ang
    November 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Does changing to custom ROM voids warranty?

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2012 at 12:29 am

      It really depends on your carrier and the specific details of your warranty, but most people complain that some services will claim a voided warranty if a custom ROM is installed.

  29. Marianne Martin
    November 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I had an android made be Samsung.This phone is one of the 1st data smart phones that uses the pre-pay( 80.00 only) plan. No other options are available with the Samsung illusion i110 phone. I loved this phone and would explore apps on Amazon & Google Play Store. Something has gone really wrong with the phone, I think an app has locked my phone on a password screen and I didn't have anything to do with it and do not have the password to get into the phone. I have tried all of the usual ways to reset the phone and in fact took the phone to a verizon store twice and called a verizon tech direct once and no one can seem to be able to reset this phone so I have suspended my service with Verizon. Verizon told me a developer owes me a new phone! Right, how do I make this happen! Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do. Resetting seems to be out of the picture at this point. Anyone help?

  30. Michael Jan Moratalla
    November 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm


  31. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I'm especially intrigued with the capability to install ROMs. Might need some more time until I can finally move on from my old Samsung and Sony Ericsson (both released before Android came, and yeah, they're not smartphone).

    Any interesting ROM you can suggest?

    • Joel Lee
      November 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Yikes! There are so many ROMs that I don't even know all of their names, let alone have I given them all a try. This answer is going to sound like a cop out but it's true: it depends on your phone model, what you're looking for in a ROM, how advanced of a user you are, etc.

      Are you looking for speed? Are you looking for aesthetics and pretty animations? Do you want lots of customization? Are you going for minimalism? Is your device old with weak hardware or is it powerful? In fact, what model phone? Some ROMs may not even function correctly on certain phones due to manufacturer conflicts.

      I would recommend answering the questions above and then Google searching for Android ROMs that fit your preferences. Sorry that I couldn't be more help, but perhaps one cost of so much variety is that answers like this aren't so simple!

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        November 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        No problem. Sorry for not being specific, but I'm quite an adventurer so I'm willing to try different ROMs for different purposes. Heavily customizable and some eye candy, for moderate hardware perhaps.
        I'll try googling, it's just like choosing Linux distros-there are so much out there that I prefer to hear one or two names for starters.
        Well, this article is a nice starter anyway.

        • Joel Lee
          November 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          If you want a good starting point, here are some ROMs I've tried and liked are MIUI and Serendipity. Can't seem to remember any of the other ROMs I've tried... maybe that means they aren't worth pursuing. Ha!

          Be aware, however, that messing with ROMs can be very risky. Potentially bricking your phone is a big pain in the butt that you may not be ready for.

        • Sebastian C.
          November 13, 2012 at 3:26 am

          +1 to everything Joel said, and to mention, that ROMs are device-specific (unlike distros if you discount the hardware architecture variance). You will most certainly make your first choice based on which Android smartphone you device to settle with. Afterward, your choice of stability and speed, customization and/or aesthetics will apply. On a side note, some Android developers have been known to port their ROMs across different devices, in which case I suppose brings the term 'distros' closer to our subject.

  32. Nikhil Chandak
    November 10, 2012 at 11:34 am

    thanks for the useful article

  33. Ihtisham ul haq haq
    November 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Yup this article is useful,ofcourse,for the newbies in tecch world.

  34. Doc
    November 10, 2012 at 4:38 am

    "Technically? No. The phone itself will work just fine without a Google account. However, if you want to take advantage of Google Play–to download apps–then yes, you will need a Google account." You can also sideload apps by enabling the "Install Apps from Third-Party Sources" and copy an Android app (as an ".apk" file) to your device or your SD Card, install the Amazon Android Appstore, the AppBrain Appstore, or any number of other app stores, or just download an .apk file to your device. Nothing is requiring you to use Google Play at all - you can transfer media files, eBooks, and Apps to your device any way you choose - but you'll lose out on Google Play's rapidly evolving security scans when it comes to filtering out malicious apps.

    • Joel Lee
      November 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Well, okay. Super-technically, you are absolutely correct. The Google Play store is rather massive, though, and it has more than just apps--and some of those things you won't find anywhere else. But yes, third-party app stores like AppBrain and Amazon are definitely alternatives that don't require a Google account. Thanks for reminding me.

  35. Shirley Lim
    November 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Great article - just perfect to introduce Android to a beginner. Thanks! :)

    • Joel Lee
      November 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      You're welcome. Thanks for your kind words. :)

  36. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Android is more simple than expected. Specially like me, that I am a iOS user and former Windows Phone user.

    • Joel Lee
      November 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Yes! I have a few friends who are afraid to move to Android because they think it's too complex, but really it isn't. I'm glad you're open-minded about it, even if you decide to stick with iOS.

  37. Rajaa Chowdhury
    November 10, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Very useful and informative for newbie android user like me. However, also like Mr. Hoku Sarroca, I too also want to know, how to identify which apps can be moved to the external SD card and how do I do it. Kindly help.

    • Doc
      November 10, 2012 at 4:53 am

      You need at least Android 2.2 to do so; find the list of installed apps (varies), and look for the "Move to SD Card" button.

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        November 13, 2012 at 1:45 am

        Do I find the list of installed apps as in in the application manager under settings or somewhere else. i am using Android 4.0.4 smartphone from Sammy. I am not finding the option of move to SD card anywhere. :(

        • Sebastian C.
          November 13, 2012 at 3:18 am

          Correct. Although, you won't find a specific 'list of apps' that are movable to SD. If you go to Settings > [Device] Apps, you should see a tab named 'Downloaded'. From this list of user apps, click on any app to view its details (where you'll find a button labeled 'Move to SD'). One key thing to keep in mind is that certain apps should not be moved (i.e. apps with widgets that are in use) and apps that must be running (in the background) at all times, including when the SD card gets unmounted or removed. Some apps provide a way to be made to support the feature. Evernote comes to mind. By itself, it lacks support to be moved but a small app that solely serves as a widget (hence the name, Evernote Widget) can be installed before moving Evernote to SD. You could always check with the developer of app to be sure. In fact, that is advised if not already noted within the application's description on Google Play.

        • Sebastian C.
          November 13, 2012 at 3:20 am

          I forgot to mention that the 'On SD Card' tab shows a list of those apps which exist on the external storage and can be moved to the internal storage (in reverse of 'Move to SD').

  38. Carol Wigley
    November 10, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for the very helpfully information, it answer a couple of questions I had. Keep up the great work.

  39. Anonymous
    November 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    A good article, since I too have just started my relationship with Android through a smartphone and a tablet...Hopefully you will come up with more articles to help beginners. As Hoku Sarroca asked, writing files to and from a SD card (including the mounting, unmounting etc.) will help.

  40. Tarek
    November 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Informative article, thanks for sharing. I have a question though.
    Is installing ROMs the same thing as rooting?(the Android jailbreak method)
    If not, how does rooting actually work? Is there a Cydia-like app that allows you to install tweaks and other stuff? The main reason I'm in love with my iPhone is the amount of customization jailbreaking offers; but it comes at a cost of performance. Will I have that issue with rooting?
    Basically I'm asking EVERYTHING related to rooting, lol.

    • Doc
      November 10, 2012 at 4:52 am

      Rooting simply means you can act as the "root" user, much like an Administrator in Windows; you can view and delete *any* file or folder, or run *any* command or program available in the operating system. Normally this means adding the Linux command "su" (SuperUser), which changes your login to "root," or sudo (change me to "root" for just the next command, like "su rm filename" (switch to root, then ReMove (delete) filename."

      This makes it easy for you (or a script transferred to the phone/tablet) to make changes to the files on the device - for example, remove that useless PDF manual the maker stuck in as an undeletable file, replace the Android Dalvik Virtual Machine (Java environment) with a faster version, remove crapware from the device (carefully!) such as the HTC Sense UI or Samsung TouchWiz addons, etc., etc., or run Titanium Backup in "root mode," backing up changes to the operating system itself, as well as media & apps.

      • Tarek
        November 10, 2012 at 5:02 am

        Ah, I see. Thanks for your reply.
        I'm not much of a Linus user. I've never messed around with open source software before besides web apps. Can I modify and customize whatever I want on an Android device via messing around with open source codes like I do on my iPhone via Cydia? That's what I really look for in a device. The ability to make it personal unlike the rest that you know that it's mine when you open it.

        • Joel Lee
          November 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

          In addition to what Doc said about rooting (which was all true), here's what you can except in Android vs. an iPhone with Cydia:

          With Cydia, you get access to a third-party app store, you get access to themes, you can customize the look-and-feel of certain apps, docks, wallpapers, lock screens, etc.

          With Android, you don't need an app like Cydia to do any of that. Most aesthetics like fonts can be changed on a per-app basis. Android themes are widely available through apps like GO. There are apps that change your lock screen, your home screen, etc.

          And if you want to get really involved, you can install completely different versions of Android (called ROMs) so that your phone looks and feels radically different in every aspect. Though that's a more advanced topic.

          Basically, yes, you can do all you can with Cydia in Android--it's just a matter of finding out the Android equivalent methods.

        • Tarek
          November 12, 2012 at 2:43 am

          KooL! thx for all your help. Now I'm interested in having an Android device!

  41. Hoku Sarroca
    November 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I'd like to know how to transfer on to the sd card

    • Doc
      November 10, 2012 at 4:46 am

      Put your SD card into a reader (attached or inside your PC) and transfer files that way, or connect your phone/tablet to the PC via USB cable, and tap on USB Mass Storage mode. If you have a device that doesn't have an SD card slot, you'll either have to enable USB Debug Mode to get access to the device's Flash memory, or use a program on the PC (like Songbird, Windows Media Player, Samsung Kies, RealPlayer, or another program that recognized MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) device mode to move media to and from the device's memory (much like iTunes handles transfers to iOS devices); MTP mode doesn't allow wholesale changes to your device's Flash memory; instead, it treats it like a media player.

      The reason that Google doesn't put SD card slots in its Nexus-branded devices is because they don't trust SD cards formatted in Microsoft's aging FAT32 format to not get corrupted; instead, they use Linux's EXT3 or EXT4 file system (which is less likely to be corrupted by being suddenly unplugged).

      • Joel Lee
        November 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

        Woo! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I don't think I have anything to add. :)

        • Sebastian C.
          November 13, 2012 at 2:48 am

          No kidding! Those are some great tips (thanks Doc). I honestly heard a comment recently that it was their decision to opt from including SD card slots in order to promote their cloud storage services. ;) I suppose the argument is up for debate.