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.