Welcome to the Android forum on boards.ie. In this guide, you'll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about Android, the phones, the settings, and the apps. We hope you find it useful (Updated July 2013)
General Android Section
What is Android?
Android is an operating system for mobile devices (similar to iOS, Windows Mobile and Symbian). It is the operating system that can be found on phones like the HTC Desire HD, HTC Sensation, Samsung Galaxy and others.
What is the the story about all the different Versions? 2.2? 3.0? 4.0? Gingerbread? Honeycomb? Ice Cream Sandwich? I'm confused...
Google name all their versions after desserts in alphabetical order - 1.5 is Cupcake, 1.6 is Donut, 2.0/2.1 is Eclair. 2.2 is Froyo, 2.3 is Gingerbread, 3.0/3.1 is Honeycomb (Tablet only), 4.0 is Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1-4.3 is Jellybean, and 5.0 (due late 2013) is Key Lime Pie. Click here for Android Version History, and click here for everything that is currently known about 5.0.
What is Google Play?
Google Play (formerly Android Marketplace) is similar to the App Store on an iPhone. Its a place where you can choose from thousands of apps, games and widgets to download for your phone. As of 2013, Music and Books can also be purchased here.
I'm looking for an app in Google Play, but can't find it. Why?
The market is filtered for each handset. Common filters include screensize, trackball required, Operating System version, required library in the OS, etc. The filters all listed here.
I've wiped my phone/lost my phone/changed my phone. Do I need to buy all my apps again?
Not at all. Your purchase history is tied to your google account, so you can always redownload them for free (as long as you use the same account!)
One of the best things about Android is it's customisability. The easiest (and least technical!) kind of customisation available to all is the launcher (the interface on the home screen). There are several launchers available, all downloadable from the Marketplace. Some are free and some cost money (read through the features and comments to see what you think). Popular launchers include ADW Launcher (and ADWLauncher EX), LauncherPro (and LauncherPro Plus), Go Launcher EX, SPB Shell 3D, Nova Launcher (and Nova Launcher Prime), Zeam, Next Launcher 3D and Smart Launcher.
The next level of customisation is the operating system itself. Many android phones have dedicated development communities that tweak and update the operating system on those phones. Some developers can release new versions as often as once a week, and their releases very often trump the official releases from the phone manufacturers in terms of features and speed. Custom ROMs have lots more going under the hood to supercharge your phone - smoother operation, longer battery, updated kernels, improved drivers, bloatware apps removed, operator branding removed etc.
To customise your phone, you need to Root it first. Android is essentially a Linux operating system, and rooting a phone gives you superuser or admin access to the phone. This means that you can replace/update files that are normally 'read only'. For people familar with iphones, it is the equivalent of jailbreaking.
See the links section below to investigate the available ROMs for your phone, along with the rooting procedures.
Customisation/Rooting - Links Section
Where can I find out about rooting my particular phone, and what ROMs/Radios are available for my phone?
XDA Developers (http://www.xda-developers.com) is our site of choice. If you're phone is android, there will probably be a forum (or set of forums) for your phone on that site. Here are links for some of the main phones at time of writing:
General: General Android Forum
HTC: One | One X+ | One X | One S | One V | Sensation | Desire HD | Incredible S | Desire S | Legend | Desire | Wildfire | Hero
Sony Xperia: S | Neo | Mini/Mini Pro/Active/Ray | X10 | X10 Mini | X1 | X8 | Arc | Play
Samsung: Galaxy S4 | Galaxy S III | Galaxy S | Galaxy S II
Google: Nexus One
If your phone is not listed above, click here and search for it.
An alternative site to check out is Android.net and their forums.
XDA covers tablets as well as phones, so check there first. Another site worth checking is Slatedroid for your rooting/customising needs on Android tablets. Here is a guide for rooting the Kindle Fire HD.
What is tethering?
Tethering is the use of a mobile device such as a mobile phone to supply Internet access for another device which is otherwise unconnected, using the mobile device as a modem. This can be done through Bluetooth, wireless technology or cables (such as USB). (Wikipedia). Lifehackers Guide to Tethering on Android. Version 2.1 + of Android has an option for tethering by USB.
How do I increase the number of rings on the phone before it goes to voicemail?
First, find out what your voicemail number is. Dial *#61# and touch Call. Jot down the phone number displayed on the screen. This is where your voicemail calls are directed to. Dial **61*(THE NUMBER YOU WROTE DOWN)**30# and press Call. Your Phone should now ring longer — that is, for the full 30-second duration of your ringtone. To verify that your voicemails are still being sent to the correct place, repeat step 1 and check that the phone number matches. If your phone number is 087 3333333 and you want a 30 second delay, then the code you enter is **61*08753333333**30#. When you enter this code, you'll get a message on screen saying 'MMI Code Started', followed by a message that says 'Call forwarding - Registration was successful'.
Do I need to use a task killer on android?
Short answer: If your operating system is Froyo (2.2) or later, then NO.
Long answer: Froyo drastically improved how Android memory management works. A common mistake is comparing memory management on Android with memory management on the PC. When you send an app to the background (by hitting the 'home' button while it's running), android will save the state of that app and remove it from memory. When you run the app again, it restores the state from the snapshot. In other words, memory management is intelligent and automatic. By using a task killer, you are just killing the snapshot of the app.
Help! I've messed up the settings on my phone!
In case you mess something up, here are links to the settings for each network: Meteor | Vodafone | O2 | Three | emobile
Great post! Nearly convinced me to buy one to replace my trusty Treo 650!
WildeFalcon (at the trailing edge of modern technology).
You might want to mention that you can access paid apps if you use a SIM card from a paid-apps enabled country like an O2 UK SIM. You can then download the application over your home wifi.
Thanks for the excellent post but I have one question. I bought a Hero today and am curious about how it'll access the network in relation to data charges.
The weather app on the home screen, I presume that is periodically accessing the phone network to update itself, as would Google Maps when you use it. Are these apps and other likely to run up large data downloads and as a result large charges?
I took out the 250MB add-on with Meteor and wonder is that enough?
Should be OK, KH. Install 3G Watchdog (free from marketplace) and it will tell you what your daily data usage is. You can set warnings if it gets anywhere close to 250mb.
It will give you a daily/weekly/monthly breakdown, so after a few days with it switched on, you should be able to predict what your monthly usage will be.
Awesome, Mr E! Thanks!
Now I have to decide whether to take the plunge and root my lovely new Nexus or not... *bites nails*
edit: Actually, can I just ask some questions? Can anyone explain to me in plain Irish what some of the following basically mean? I know what the point of them is, but I'm not sure what they mean themselves exactly.
Rooting? Roms? Overclocking? (yeah yeah) Flashing (as in "flash a new recovery image")?
I really want that LED torch and some paid apps, though I'm not sure I want to void my warranty or disable future updates. :S
Rooting is, as I said above, removing all restrictions from your phone. From a quick look around, it seems that rooting (for many operators) will void your warranty, but with a bit of preparation, you can "unroot" a phone before returning it (assuming your phone is still in a working condition). Read more on the subject here. I think I remember reading on the big HTC Hero thread that someone returned a faulty rooted phone, and got a replacement (no questions asked). Its up to you if you want to proceed, but just be aware of the issues.
ROMs are basically images of the operating system (the files need to run your phone - the icons, homescreen, contact list etc). Flashing a ROM is the term for putting a new version of the ROM on your phone. If you have a Nexus, you already have the latest version of the operating system on your phone, so there is nothing to flash (for now).
Overclocking is a term for speeding up your phone by making the CPU (the brain of the phone) run faster. Overclocking any hardware is a balancing act between improving the speed of the device, and decreasing the stability and battery life of the device. The Nexus is running on a 1GHz processor, so its already pretty nippy. Not much point (or benefit) in overclocking it.
Thanks a million. You ought to publish a dictionary.
When we getting a forum? The iPhone one was well over a year
+1 When we getting a forum? The iPhone one was well over a year
Android Forum request was denied. See last post in this thread. Give it 6 months... with the Nexus, Bravo, Legend, Incredible, Tide, Buzz, Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10, Motorola's android phones and others due this year, this forum will be overrun with Android topics by the Summer.
Great thread. Don't have a HTC yet, as I'm still in contract with O2, but enjoying playing with the OH's Hero). A couple of others things that might be worth mentioning:
Tethering on Android - Is this possible OOTB with the HTC Hero?
The Register article about Apple suing HTC for multiple copyright infringements (could turn ugly for Android).
I'm sitting here quietly impressed with one aspect of the Heros abilities and that is its music playback. I never used my Nokia 5800 as an MP3 player as the sound quality was pretty rubbish so I always carried a seperate MP3 player.
I said I'd try out the Hero tonight and see what it was like. The sound quality is stunning, really very very good. I could see myself not having the need for a dedicated MP3 player anymore. The only unknown as it's still new to me is battery life.
But as regards to music playback - score one to the Hero.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you....I've been tearing my hair out trying to solve this.
I dont think you can tether out of the box but there are free apps that allow you to do it.
Apple are just chancing there arm at slowing down the progress of Android, why do you think they only targeted HTC and not Google themselves? They've filed as much crap as they can to try and give the iPhone some breathing space in the US, with the length of time these things take (Apple & Nokia have been at it for over a year) you wont see any reprecussions for at least a year and only if anything Apple have tried sticks