Android Development: For Starters

What is Android?

It’s a phone and tablet operating system made by Google, and the world’s no.1 mobile OS. It’s the background software that makes your touchscreen device usable and allows you to load apps. Launched in 2007, the first Android phones arrived in 2008.

Android Versions

The Android OS is being constantly improved, so you’ll find that different devices have different versions of the software. The very latest is Jelly Bean 4.2, then Ice Cream Sandwich, then Honeycomb and Gingerbread. Notice a pattern? Yep, they’re all named after sweet, tasty treats.

Updating your Android

Your device may start with one version of Android and then receive an update to a newer version. The timing of these updates varies depending upon the device manufacturer or network, though Google-backed Nexus phones and tablets are always first in line.

The Google Ecosystem

Yes, you will need a Google account if you don’t already have one. Once you’re signed up you’ll have access to a Gmail email address and be able to sign straight into other Google-owned sites such as YouTube. It also means you can easily share or back up contacts and messages between phone, tablet and computer.

Getting Apps

As with Apple, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, Android phones have their own place to buy apps, called Google Play (formerly Android Market). Not all apps work on all devices, so the more recent your device, the better. If you want to have a browse from your desktop computer, just visit plav.google.com.

What is Google Play

If you want to supercharge your phone or tablet, all you have to do is add apps. Google Play is the place to shop for Android apps, accessible directly from your device. There are hundreds of thousands to choose from – some free, some not so free, and of wildly varying quality. Whether you want to get organized watch films en route or keep up with friends, there’s something for you.

An Android Hardware

Android is mainly used to power touchscreen, smartphones and tablets, but as you’ll see in our Android Oddities feature (p.48), cameras, TVs and even games consoles are getting in on the action. It’s powerful stuff, and thanks to its open-source code, anyone can tinker with it to help make it do new and interesting things.

To get the most out of any OS you need to know the tricks that make it work for you. Here are 7 Android Tips and Tricks that will make you an Android grand master. Device features can differ slightly between versions of Android but these handy hints should improve your Android experience.

1. Maintain your homescreen zen

Have you developed an app habit, but don’t want them all to land straight on your homescreen by default when you download them? Open up the Google Play Store app and in settings you’ll find the option to turn off ‘Auto-add widgets’. Tidy homescreen, tidy mind.

2. Shoot video and photos simultaneously

Want the best of both worlds? Well, now you can film your cake and snap it, too. While shooting video just double-tap the screen in order to take a full resolution photograph and keep the camera rolling.

3. Never type a message again

If you don’t enjoy touchscreen typing, you can dictate instead. In the bottom right corner of the standard Android keyboard is a little microphone symbol. Hit that and start gibbering away to see your words magically transcribed before your eyes. You’ll need a decent data connection though.

4. Grab a screenshot of your high score

Want to show off your best game of Drop7 o funny text conversation? Hold the power button together with the volume down or home button. On some Asus devices you’ll find the option in ’Asus customizations’ in settings, while others may have an icon on the task bar just for snapping screens.

5. Control Android with your voice

In the top left of any Android homescreen is a little microphone icon to tap that activates voice controlled web searches. For advanced control, try using commands starting with ‘navigate to’ for directions, ’note to self to send an email to yourself, or ’set alarm’ to, well, y’know.

6. Dodge big bills for overseas data

Leaving your 3/4G mobile data switched on while abroad can saddle you with a huge bill. In the settings menu, switch off mobile data roaming before you jet off. In the Data Usage section there are usage stats and the option to set alarms and caps to prevent you going over your allowance.

7. Become a master typist

There are plenty of ways to speed up your words per minute on Android’s standard keyboard. Double tap the space bar for full stop, hold down a character for variations, such as accented character, or double tap shift for caps lock.

Android Number Facts

– 75% is the Android’s share on world smartphone market in Q3 2012
– 500 million devices were activated
– 1.3 million activations per day
– 4.2 is the latest version of Android: Jelly Bean

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Mini Belwal works with PixelCrayons, The company specializes in CMS & eCommerce Development and Mobile Apps development. You may get in touch with PixelCrayons if you are planning to hire an experienced iPhone or Android developer.