Customizing Your Android Smartphone

Android robot

Post Written by Olive Dove
I bought my first Android smartphone a few months ago.  Then a friend bought a Samsung Galaxy smartphone that is quite similar to mine.  The most challenging part for first time smartphone buyer is that it does not come with a printed user’s manual!  As for my friend, the transition from his old PDA to a smartphone was quite tough.  I was able to help him with basic settings with my recent trial-and-error experience.  This post was adapted from the e-mail I sent him.  

Where to get the apps?
  • Android market:  
    • On any PC, the web address is  I always read reviews on my PC before downloading the apps directly to my Galaxy via Wi-Fi.
    • Virus and malware:  Unlike Apple that serves as goal keeper for iPhone apps, Android Market accepts apps without strict/prior reviews.  Don’t download any apps that you have never heard of or read reviews in tech news to avoid virus and Trojan malware.  Android OS for smartphones is as vulnerable as Windows for PC due to rampant virus attacks.
Basic settings:
  • SIM CARD LOCK:  To avoid SIM card and phone access by third party.  It’s like the main gate.  When you turn off the phone and turn it back on, this is the first password you need to access the telco network.  Go to  LOCATION AND SECURITY -> SCREEN UNLOCK
  • SCREEN LOCK:   To avoid phone access by 3rd party.  It’s like locking the front door.  Go to LOCATION AND SECURITY -> SIM CARD LOCK
  • GPS:  For privacy and energy saving, I don’t turn on my GPS by default.  Once you turn it on, the pictures you take will automatically be tagged with GPS location.  E.g. if you take a picture at home or at your daughter’s school, and pose it online, anyone with basic tech knowledge can pinpoint your location.   Go to  LOCATION AND SECURITY -> USE GPS SATELLITE (un-check the box to disable).
  • To avoid download from unknown source:  The main concerns are virus and Trojan malware from Android Market.  Go to APPLICATION SETTING -> UNKNOWN SOURCES (un-check the box to disable).
  • To avoid unnecessary data (3G) and roaming charges:  I access the Internet only when I have access to Wi-Fi to save on 3G data usage.  Go to WIRELESS AND NETWORK SETTING -> MOBILE NETWORKS -> un-check USE PACKET DATA and DATA ROAMING to disable them.
  • One-stop activation from without going into SETTING:  Pull down the bar on top to activate Wi-Fi, bluetooth, GPS, silent/ringing/vibration mode and auto rotate screen.
  • To conserve battery power:
    1. TASK MANAGER shortcut:  I installed this shortcut on the home screen wallpaper so that I can easily shutdown all unused apps by clicking on END ALL to conserve battery power, and clear RAM memory by clicking on CLEAR MEMORY.  On HOME SCREEN wallpaper, lightly press the screen, Go to SHORTCUTS -> APPLICTAIONS -> scroll down to select TASK MANAGER.
    2. Turn off BACKGROUND DATA: Go to ACCOUNTS AND SYNC SETTINGS -> BACKGROUND DATA (un-check to disable).  Note:  This function have to be activated to install apps from Android market.
    3. Turn off unnecessary functions/apps:  Turn off Wi-Fi, bluetooth, GPS when not in use.  Previously used apps remained functioning in the background though they are not in use.  That’s why TASK MANAGER shortcut is very useful.
Basic apps that I use frequently:
  • AVG Mobilazation (free at Android Market):  
    • It’s manufactured by the familiar antivirus company.  
    • Main functions:  Antivirus and antimalware that operate in the background .  Remote track and locate (log in from any PC or mobile device, account registration and activation are required) lost phone by automatically activating GPS and pinpointing it on Google Maps.  Remote delete phone data when the phone can’t be retrieved.
  • Evernote (free at Android Market):  
    • Capture anything, store in phone then sync automatically to the cloud (remote Evernote server; need auto sync setting activation).  
    • Evernote reads and searches text captured as pictures!  
    • Pairing with SKITCH (free app) drawing app, sketches like ideas for comics can be drawn and saved.
    • Access the files from any PC and mobile device once they saved in the cloud.
  • Facebook (free in Android Market):  Original Facebook app that does most thing the web version does.
  • Opera Mini/Opera Mobile (free at Android Market):
    • Opera makes good browsers for PC and smartphone.  
    • Opera Mini/Opera Mobile is more use- friendly than the smartphone’s default web browser in terms of auto text fitting, setting and user interface.
 Other apps that I use:  
  • Twitter:  Original app by Twitter.
  • Pulse:  It’s like Google News that gather  various news all under one roof.
  • Barcode Scanner:  It scans QR codes in print ads for auto access to website without typing the web address.
  • Stopwatch & Timer:  Simple stop watch.
  • Solitaire: Unlike Angry Birds, this all time favorite consumes little memory and battery power.

Picture: By Google [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

  1. olivedove posted this
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