What is Android?
Android is the name of the mobile operating system made by American
company; Google. It comes installed on a variety of smartphones and
tablets, offering users access to Google’s own services like Search,
Youtube, Maps, Gmail and more.
This means you can easily look for information on the web, watch videos,
search for directions and write emails on your phone, just as you
would on your computer. This is handy for checking up on things like
train times and getting directions when out and about, but there’s more
to Android than these simple examples.
What can an Android phone do?
Android phones are highly customisable and as such can be altered
to suit your tastes and needs. You can check your Facebook and Twitter
profiles through a variety of apps making it ideal for social
networking. Through the calendar you can set reminders from your
desktop or your phone and on the latest versions of Android you can
send links to and from your computer and vice versa.
Another neat feature of Android is that it automatically backs up your
contacts for you. When you set up an Android phone you’ll need to create
a Google Account or sign in with an existing one. Every time you save a
number to the address book of your Android phone it will be synced to
your Google Account.
The benefit of this is if you lose your phone all of your numbers will
be saved. The next time you get an Android phone and sign in with your
Google Account, all of your contacts and friends numbers will be
displayed in your new phone’s address book and you can even access or
edit them from a computer.
What apps can I get on an Android phone?
There are hundreds of thousands of apps and games available to
download from the Google Play store (formerly the Android Market).
There are camera apps that allow you to take pictures with artistic
effects and filters on them and music players which allow you to import
MP3s from your phone or create playlists. You can customise the
appearance of your Android handset with a number of wallpapers based on
pictures you’ve taken yourself or downloaded from the web too.
There are also various on-screen widgets to download which allow access
and alteration the settings of your phone without having to dive
through menus as you would on rival devices. You can pretty much create
your own system of shortcuts and menus to better suit how you uniquely
use your phone.
Popular games available for Android phones include Angry Birds, Draw
Something and Temple Run 2 to name but three, but there are thousands of
free and paid apps and games on offer.
How can I get apps on an Android phone?
The majority of apps can be downloaded from the Google Play store
(the equivalent of Apple’s App Store), which includes a mix of free as
well as premium apps that you’ll have to pay for. Some apps have ‘lite’
versions which are free, in the hope you’ll enjoy them and upgrade to
the full premium version. Others - like Angry Birds - are free, but
The same account that lets you backup your contacts can also have financial details
added to it, allowing you the ability to purchase content from the
Google Play store directly. You can pay either by debit or credit card
and initial setup takes less than five minutes from a computer.
Although there are some 700,000 apps available to Android users in the
Google Play store, some developers choose to make their apps available
to download from their own sites. In order to download these you'll have
to change some settings on your phone before visiting the site on your
Android phone’s web browser. By downloading apps other than from the
Google Play store, you do run the risk of attack in the form of data
theft or from a virus so be careful if you choose that route.
Should you upgrade or change your Android phone; log into your Google
account and you’ll be able to download your previously owned apps again,
without being charged.
Google is constantly working on new versions of the Android
software. These releases are infrequent; at the moment they normally
come out every six months or so, but Google is looking to slow this
down to once a year.
Versions usually come with a numerical code and a codename that’s so far
been named after desserts running in alphabetical order.
*Android 1.5 Cupcake
*Android 2.1 Eclair
*Android 2.2 Froyo
*Android 2.3 Gingerbread
*Android 3.2 Honeycomb
*Android 4.0 Ice ***** Sandwich:
*Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
*Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Do Android updates cost anything?
Android updates are free. The updates bring a number of new
features and changes to Android each time. Generally though, with each
update the speed and overall performance of Android is improved upon.
Most of the high-end Android phones are scheduled to receive updates
first. Most Android phones will have at least one update during their
life cycle, with some having two. A life cycle is usually around a year,
but depending on the phone can be longer.
How do I get an update?
Android updates are normally received OTA (over the air), that is,
sent directly to your Android phone without the need for a computer.
Normally, once your Android phone or tablet is due to get an upgrade,
you'll see a notification in the bar at the top of the screen. You'll
then be prompted to connect to WiFi to avoid incurring extra data
charges - updates can be quite big and downloading them over a mobile
data connection isn’t advised.
Updates are generally one-stage processes and relatively
straightforward, but in some cases you may need to back up/save any
media (photos, movies, music) or apps you've downloaded before updating.
In some cases, such as with some of Sony’s and Samsung's older Android
phones, you'll need to install the dedicated software supplied online by
the manufacturer first.
Unlike iOS where all users get the update at the same time, regardless
of device. Android updates are more fragmented, dependent on
manufacturer and carrier - it can make for a frustrating experience,
when some phones of the same model have the update when other phones