May 19, 2014
Whether you already use Android phones but want to make sure you're not missing anything during setup, or you're switching from an iPhone, Windows phone, or feature phone (aka dumb phone), it's helpful to hear some suggestions for starting out right. I'm not talking about carriers and cases. I mean on the phone itself. When I switch phones, here's how I start.
1. If the phone is not new (A given, for me; new phones are like new cars.), then the first thing you should do is navigate to Settings > Backup & reset. On most phones, "Reset phone" is the last option in this menu. Go ahead and restore, to completely wipe the phone, returning it to its out-of-the-box settings. Clean slate -- lovely.
2. If your phone is new, this is where you join us. Boot your phone up and you'll be greeted by some variety of welcome page. Very near the beginning of the setup wizard, you'll be prompted to connect to any available wifi networks. As you navigate through this guide, you'll likely come to a page asking for Samsung/HTC/etc credentials. I skip this. It doesn't typically impact phone use at all, and if you later decide you want an account with the manufacturer, it won't cause any glitches to start at that point, rather than during initial setup. The credentials here thatdo matter are your Google sign in info. Whether you use Gmail, Google+, Drive, or any other Google service, your sign in info works for every other piece of the Google machine, including here on Android. If you don't yet have a Google account, touch "Sign up" instead of "Sign in" and have at it.
3. Once you've completed the official setup, you can start making the phone suit your life. In case you really are new to this smartphone thing, the 3x3 dotted square at the bottom of the phone is what you touch to view all of your phone's currently-installed apps. If you use any email other than Gmail (which is already installed), download that app (see step 4 for further instruction). If there isn't an app for the account you use, open the "Mail" app and follow the setup instructions to begin receiving that account's emails on your phone.
4. Now open the "Play Store" app. You'll have to accept some terms and conditions. At the top left, next to the shopping bag icon, touch the 3 bars (Three stacked bars means "menu" on Androids.) and then "My apps." Under "Installed" you'll see all the apps that come pre-installed on your Android. Touch "Update All." If you've used an Android phone before, then switch from the "Installed" tab over to the "All" tab to see apps you've installed on other Android phones. Presumably you'll want many of these again. Prompt whichever you'd like to begin installing.
5. What else should you install from the get-go? While that depends on personality and what you'd like to use your phone for, I do have some suggestions that you can search for in the Play Store to get started: Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Bible, Chrome, Flashlight, Keep, Pandora, Pandora Ad Blocker, Redbox, Starbucks, SnipSnap, and The Weather Channel. You might not want Amazon. You might use a different e-reader. Maybe you use Slacker, not Pandora. But hopefully these suggestions will prompt you to consider which apps you would install instead. Redbox is on my suggestions list because it will tell you which locations have the movie you're looking for in stock. SnipSnap is one of not that many coupon apps that actually displays the coupon in the app, rather than giving a link to open in a browser. I also install eBay right away, but you might have no need. Many banks now have apps that include the feature to deposit checks via scans. I think everyone should have a game installed. Mine's Sudoku. What's yours? Angry Birds? Solitaire? Tetris? Hill Climb? Options are near limitless. Just for fun, I have Google Earth and Google Sky Map. What news site do you read? Bet they have an app. Dilbert, Peanuts, or FoxTrot? Find an app for individual comic strips, or install an app like GoComics, where you'll find every cartoon known to man. As you go about life, you'll discover other apps that suit you and make life easier, but this is a good place to start.
6. Touch the Home button, and most likely remove everything from this homescreen (Touch and hold, drag to delete or remove. App will still be installed, just not displayed there.) Touch and hold a blank spot on your homescreen and say that you want to edit apps and widgets. I like a clock and weather widget at the top and apps underneath. Scroll through all the apps and all the widgets and just choose what's most convenient for homescreen and other screens. Easily altered, of course, if you change your mind.
7. Now set your alarm, from the Clock app. Change time, frequency, sound, and volume.
8. Now set your background, by touching and holding a blank area, or by opening Settings > Personalize, or by finding a picture in your gallery or Drive or wherever and touching menu to set it.
9. Now ringtone. Choose whichever from what's on the phone already, or set your own music as the ringtone, by selecting the track and touching menu.
10. The last thing I like to do during phone set up is go through the whole Settings menu, tweaking what's on and off, size of things, fonts, controls, sounds, etc to my taste. It just solidifies the feeling that you've got your phone under control.
Now live and dabble and install and uninstall, but know you're up to speed with basic Android setup.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.