How to get the most out of your Android phone

I’ve been using an Android phone since April, and it took me a while to get used to Google’s OS. I’d had two Symbian devices before getting the HTC Desire, and as it turns out, I made a few mistakes in getting used to my new phone that ended up keeping me from fully enjoying my new phone. I found myself needing to unlearn old habits in order to use Android as it was intended. Here’s what I learned.

Don’t turn off 3G

Modern smartphones have pretty poor battery life. My old Nokia E71 lasted for a week on a single charge, whereas the Desire is completely empty after just two days. One if I use it a lot. I tried to conserve power by switching off 3G connectivity whenever I wasn’t using it. Big mistake. Not only does this completely kill one of Android’s best features (the notification system), it’s also very clear that many Android apps simply expect 3G to be available. Twitter’s own app for instance is absolutely useless without constant access to 3G. I recommend keeping data connectivity on at all times, even if that means having to charge the phone every night.

(on a sidenote, there’s a very nifty power control widget in Android that, among other things, lets you disable syncing temporarily. This is great if you’re in a meeting, asleep, or both. It’ll save power by not allowing apps the sync, but will keep 3G on.)

Don’t use a task killer

Many of the “essential apps” posts I read listed a task killer as the very first thing you need to install. So I did. I even set it up so it killed all running apps when I put the phone to sleep. Epic fail. Android handles multitasking very elegantly, and has a (very basic) task killer built right into the OS. As a result, running a 3rd party ‘killer’ will not result in a significantly better battery life. But more importantly, it will also prevent apps from running in the background. That means no notifications, no updates and no fun.

Check the Android Market often

The iPhone OS app store ecosystem may be booming, Android’s software marketplace is simply exploding. There are more Android phones being sold than iOS devices, and Android is set to soon become the second biggest mobile OS soon (behind Symbian). There’s a huge target audience out there, and it’s expanding very rapidly. As a result, new apps are coming out every day, and many of them are very interesting.

Join the community

Android is open source, and there’s a very active community out there. Tons of great blog posts offering better advice than this one, helpful people on forums, and plenty of support in case you decide to write your own apps. This is one of the OS’s best features, and can really help you get the most out of your device.

9 Comments

  1. sorry for spamming but I cant comment on specific post

    http://www.roytanck.com/2008/08/04/how-to-add-more-characters-to-wp-cumulus

    I just want to make it work in greek but I cant open the tagcloud.fla

    What program I must use to open?

    You say “open in flash” but I cant open using Flash MX

    Please need help, thanks for your time and forgive me one more time for spamming this post

    Comment by thesikaleon — September 13, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

    • Hi thesikaleon. You’ll need Flash CS3 or better. A trial version will do. I’m working on a new version that you can compile from the command line (using mxmlc), but that version will support Greek out of the box anyway :).

      Comment by Roy — September 14, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  2. hi Roy

    I used this guide http://www.roytanck.com/2008/08/04/how-to-add-more-characters-to-wp-cumulus to make tags shown in Greek language. Finally made it.
    Also I used Amanda’s guide http://www.bloggerbuster.com/2008/08/blogumus-flash-animated-label-cloud-for.html to make it work in blogger.
    Unfortunately when I click on a greek tag I have en error result cause firefox cant read the Greek characters through the blogumus. Encoding is utf-8 so I cant understand why I have that error.
    Btw it works perfect if I use Internet Explorer.

    Any idea? Thanks

    Comment by thesikaleon — September 16, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  3. Hi Roy,

    If you want to improve both battery and user experience : root your Desire, then apply this ROM Android 2.2 and enjoy !

    Comment by satanas_g — October 20, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  4. Sorry miss the links
    Root your phone : http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php?title=Full_Update_Guide_-_HTC_Desire_(GSM)
    Install the ROM : http://forum.cyanogenmod.com/forum/44-htc-desire-gsm-stable-mod/

    Comment by satanas_g — October 20, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    • Is there anything specific in that ROM that helps preserve battery? My Desire has Froyo now, though the regular provider upgrade.

      Comment by Roy — October 21, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  5. “Check the Adroid Market often”

    you forgot the N ! it’s Android Market not Adroid!

    Comment by Sepperl — January 9, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    • Tnx Sepperl, fixed!

      Comment by Roy — January 12, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  6. Actually i have the same problem with thesikaleon with the Greek tags which are not working properly with firefox,but there is no problem with Internet Expoler.
    Any help would be appreciated.

    Comment by 24hours — May 4, 2011 @ 10:49 am