Confession; I was always an avid iPhone user, but after my colleague @Three_Steve droned (and I mean droned!) on about how he preferred Android, I decided to change it up and test out the new Samsung Galaxy S8 this month. With the help from our expert Devices Team, we’ve listed the 6 key steps for setting up your new Android. This will help if you’re brand new to Android or if you’ve been a droid user for life.
Remember: unlike iPhones, Android devices can differ greatly in features, look and capability so we’ve kept this list to the Android essentials that apply to nearly all Android devices. If you need help with a specific model, check out our Android section on the Community.
1. Sync with Google
An obvious one, but potentially the most useful thing you can do with your new Android phone is log in with your Google username and password when you first set up your phone. This will immediately connect your device to your Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Calendar and a whole host of other useful Google services. It’s also required for buying apps on the Google Play Store so if you don’t already have a Google account, this is the time to create one.
If you’ve owned an Android device previously, once you sync your existing Google account you can download all the apps you’ve used regularly in the past onto your new phone, which is pretty slick and saves a lot of time. This also means if backed up photos and music using apps such as Google Photos and Google Play Music, you’ll also be easily able to access your photos and music on your new Android.
If you have saved contacts from your previous phone on Google, you can easily access these through Google Contacts. You can also transfer these via SIM card.
In addition, Android users have the option of transferring photos, videos, music, files and other data via memory card.
If you are transferring content from the same manufacturer, for example an old Samsung to a new Samsung, most Android manufacturers have made it super simple to transfer files and data between phones. Check out the following links:
Moving contacts: To move your contacts from an iPhone to Android, you’ll need to export them from iCloud and then import them to Google Contacts. Androidcentral.com provides a handy guide on how to do this. Alternatively, you can upload your contacts to the Google Drive app, and download them when you open the Google Drive app on your new Android.
Moving photos, music & videos: Transferring your photos and videos from Apple to Android is surprisingly easy when you use Google Drive. Simply download the Google Drive app on your iPhone and upload your photos to it. You can then access the files on Google Drive for Android and download as needed. Voila!
Moving music: If you have an iTunes account that you used on your iPhone, you can transfer your music over to your new Android using Google Play Music. Here’s how:
Sign in to Google Play music on the same computer where your iTunes is installed, and download Music Manager.
Choose the iTunes option and select ‘Upload all songs and playlists’. You can also select individual playlists. The great thing about this option is you can continue to use your iTunes if you wish, and automatically sync any new music to your Google Music account.Another way to transfer files from Apple is to use Android File Transfer to move files from a Mac computer and an Android device.
3. Set up Android Device Manager
Setting up Device Manager is absolutely imperative in case you ever lose your phone or have it stolen. If you used iOS previously, you’ll be familiar with Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’ app which works in the same way. Device Manager allows you to locate your phone if it goes missing. You can also wipe the phone's data or reset your password remotely.
You can check out Android Device Manager by going to Settings > Personal > Google > Services > Security > Android Device Manager. If you want to make sure it’s working, go to http://android.com/devicemanager, sign into your Google account and check if your device is showing. If it’s not preloaded on your phone, you can find it here.
Following on from Device Manager, it’s important to secure your device in other ways too. Head to Settings > Security to set a PIN code or pattern for your phone. This will ensure that no unauthorised person can access your phone and its information. Most new Android phones now come with fingerprint scanners, for extra security. The recently released Samsung S8 and S8+ even come with a retina scanner – the future is here!
Depending on your Android device, you may also have the option to enter owner information, device encryption (particularly important if you use your phone for work) and SIM card locking.
For more tips on keeping your device and data safe, read this.
5. Get customising
Now it’s time to get customising! The great thing about Android is that it allows for lots of personalisation. Now you’ve got the essentials out of the way, you can take your time choosing your favourite apps and widgets.
Apps: You can download apps from the Google Play Store, and you can move them around your screen be simply holding down the app with your finger and move it around as you wish. To add an app to your home screens, tap the Applications icon and then drag it to wherever you want it to be.
App Folders: You can also create folders where you can hold many apps without them taking up space on your home screen. You do this by holding down on an app of moving it on top of another. The folder is created automatically.
Widgets: Widgets are great to have on your screen as they’re large, easy to read and dynamic information (such as weather or news) that you can view easily without opening an app. The most common widgets include the Google search or weather widgets out outlined in the image below. To add a widget, hold down on an empty area of the screen and you’ll see an option called Widgets. Different devices display this differently but you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the option – get in touch if you do.
6. Set automatic app updates
Now that you’ve customised your phone with the apps and widgets of your choice, our final recommendation for your new Android is to set up automatic app updates. Apps release updates all the time, and each update either fixes bugs, solves compatibility issues or adds cool new features. To ensure you’re always using the most up-to-date version of an app, and to save time checking for updates manually, we’d advise to turn on automatic app updates.
To set this up, open the Play Store and press the menu button on your phone. Go to Settings > Auto-update Apps. You can choose to auto-update apps at any time, but if you’re on a limited data allowance you should choose ‘Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only’.
Did I miss something you would recommend doing when setting up your Android? Help your Community out and tell us below in the comments.
If you’re having any trouble setting up your Android device or have any queries, comment below or drop me a PM and we can chat about it.
Ashling is the 3Community's resident wordsmith. With a passion for social media, innovative technology and all things mobile, she fills the 3Community with articles about tech news, app reviews and tips and tricks to make your life a little easier.