For anyone who has been living with iOS for years, getting started on Android can be daunting. Those of you who’ve never had a smartphone before may also find navigating the operating system a challenge at first. Although there are many different versions of Android, and some companies put their own customizable user interfaces on top of Google’s version of the OS, there are some basic beginners tips that everyone can use to master Android.
To help you get started, here’s our comprehensive guide on using the platform and its various functions. You can also check out our list of best smartphones, best phablets, and best smartwatches to get an idea of the Android ecosystem.
Setting up your new phone
Before you can do anything on Android, you need to boot your phone up for the first time and set it up. When you switch on your device for the first time, you’ll be asked to select a language. Press Start when you’ve picked the right language. The next step will be to connect your phone to a Wi-Fi network. This should be easy if you’ve owned a wireless device — simply choose the right network and enter the appropriate password.
Android is built by Google, therefore, to make full use of your device, you’re going to need a Google account. If you have a Gmail address, you already have a Google account. If you don’t, simply select Get an account and follow the on-screen instructions. You don’t technically need a Google account to use your phone, but it is required if you want to download apps, back up your data, and use other Google services. Some phone manufacturers also ask you if you want to create an extra account with them, but you don’t really need to unless you want to use that company’s services as well.
You should also make sure that you enable backups on your device, so that your data isn’t lost if there’s a problem later. Head to Settings > Accounts, select your Google account, and check everything you want to sync. To ensure that all your photos are saved for posterity, you should download Google Photos (if it’s not on your phone already). It offers unlimited storage for all your pictures, and you can access them on any device, whether it be your PC, Mac, iPad, or Android.
During the setup process, you may be asked if you want to add a passcode, pattern, or fingerprint to lock your device. Doing so will add extra security to your device, and if your phone has a fingerprint sensor, you should set it up for Android Pay anyway. To set up the fingerprint sensor, you just place your finger on the sensor multiple times until your digit is registered. You’ll also be asked to set up a passcode or PIN for backup in case your fingerprint can’t be read.
Once you’ve set up your device, you should check to see if there’s a software update available. To do this, press on the Settings app, scroll to the bottom, press About phone, and select System updates. On the next screen, you’ll see a Check for update button. Press it, and your phone will check to see if any updates are available. If so, you can download and install them.