15 tips and tricks for your Android mobile

1 ) Run the latest software  Not all Android handsets will be compatible with the newest versions of the Android operating system such as 4...

1) Run the latest software Not all Android handsets will be compatible with the newest versions of the Android operating system such as 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. So it's important to know which one you're using and whether it can be updated. Older OSs may be less secure and will not take advantage of the newest technology or provide the best features. However, different mobile networks and phone manufacturers release these software downloads at different times. Check with your operator for news of when you can get it over the air. You don't need to connect your Android phone to a computer to update it. You can see what makes Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich so special on the official website.


2) Get a Gmail address
With so much of Android's technology built around Google services, having a Gmail email isn't a necessity but it can be useful for a more seamless experience. With Google set to launch back-up storage solution Google Drive very soon - integrating with the rest of its services - it could pay off to sign up.



3) Explore Google Play



This is the replacement for the old Android Market, the place where apps and games were originally downloaded from. You can check out Google Play on the web and see all the latest downloads and the top 10 - the key difference now is it also houses Books and Movies too. It’s a one-stop shop for Android users looking for all kinds of entertainment both free and paid-for.



4) Install Chrome for Android



The Beta version of Google's browser for Ice Cream Sandwich launched in February and has just been updated. Obviously it's still a work in progress, meaning some parts might not work perfectly, but Google welcomes all feedback to improve it. You can find it in Google Play.


HTC Golf offers Ice Cream Sandwich (Copyright: Pocket-lint)



5) Upgrade your Android handset 



Unlike Apple's iOS which only works on the iPhone, if you want an Android mobile, then there's plenty to choose from. But that can make it complicated when looking for the right phone for your needs. You can see all the handsets available in the UK - across every Android OS - and check or compare each of their features.



6) Check out Google Currents



This great new app features all sorts of newspapers and magazines putting the latest stories at a swipe of your fingertips. It makes text content easy to read and it even has Google Translate built-in so you can delve into publications from overseas without any language barrier. Again you'll find it on Google Play 



7) Speak commands



Voice Search is one of the coolest Android functions and should be preloaded on most devices. If not you'll find it in Google Play. As well as looking for what you want on the web by talking, you can use Voice Actions to control different aspects of your phone such as sending a text message or making calls.




                     [Related Story: How to make the most of Apple's hottest devices]




8) Search history



This one may be a little Big Brother but if you have Web History enabled on your computer and you're signed in with your email address to Google, then all your searches will show up on your Android handset under the Recent icon in Google Search.



9) Dive into Google Docs 



This app allows you to create, edit, upload and share word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDFs from your handset. It has recently been updated with new features including letting others collaborate on your documents from their computers, tablets or phones. It also offers offline integration so you don't have to be connected to the internet to see your chosen files.

10) Get Goggle-eyed



If you've not yet tried out Google Goggles then you're missing out. Finding out information is as simple as taking a picture with your camera phone. Snap a landmark and get details of it, grab a photo of a menu abroad and the text can be translated or aim it at a barcode and find out all you need to know about a product. It's great fun and will wow you every time.



11) The key to typing faster



SwiftKey is an award-winning app that brings a better keyboard experience to your Android handset. It will replace the Google keyboard and learn all about you as you type. That way it can predict and suggest words and will know what you're saying, most probably before you do. Best of all, it's British.






SwiftKey on the Motorola Xoom 2 (Copyright: PA)







12) Enhance your photos



If you don't use an iPhone then you may not have quite realised what all the fuss was about when Facebook recently bought Instagram for an obscene amount of cash. Well, now the photo-sharing app is on Android, allowing you to connect with friends as well as apply different filters to your images to make them look stunning.



13) Get Flash



One thing Android can do and the iPhone can't is play Flash-based content on the web. But you might want to tweak your browser settings to prevent Flash from appearing automatically. You'll find it in the Advanced browser settings and can select it to show On Demand. It should speed up your surfing sessions.



14) Look towards the sky



Another amazing app you might not have happened across is Sky Map. Just point your handset towards the skies and it will show you all the constellations and planets. It's fascinating and really brings the world around you alive. 



15) Customise your Home screens




If you want to get to applications quick and fast then turn them into widgets on one of your many home screens. You'll be able to drag these onto the display for easy access to the programs you use most.

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TEEK RC: 15 tips and tricks for your Android mobile
15 tips and tricks for your Android mobile
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