According to research statistics from the end of 2011, smartphones utilizing the Android operating system commanded just over 53% of the total market share. That number has only increased due to the general public’s disappointment with the iPhone 4S. But still, there are many new Android users out there who may not be getting all they can from their devices because they’re unfamiliar with Android.
This FAQ article is designed to give you answers to some of the most often asked questions about Android OS. If you need further assistance there is plenty of support online.
Q: Who makes the Android operating system?
A: Android is a product of Google based on the popular Linux kernel. It is open source software for the most part, meaning individuals can take it apart and modify it as they see fit.
Q: How do I install apps my phone or tablet?
A: App installation varies according to device model and Android version, but there are four basic options: installing from the Play Store directly from your phone or device; installing from the Play Store using your PC; manually installing APK files; installing from a third-party website. Depending on your particular device you may or may not have access to all of the applications on the Played Store site. If you sync your device with your Google account you’ll be able to log on to the Play Store website via your computer and find out all the details about your phone and the applications you’ve already installed.
Q: What is the Android Market app?
A: Android Market is simply a front end for Google’s Play Store. It seems to be touchy on some low-end tablets like the Zenithink Z-180. Usually a firmware update will correct this.
Q: I hate the default screen lock app, can I change it?
A: Lots of Android users hate the default screen lock app; the good news is you can change it. First check the app’s options to see if there are some settings you can change to make it more to your liking. If not, there are about half-a-dozen replacement apps available in the Android Market free of charge. There are even a couple that will completely disable the screen lock if that’s what you choose to do. Just keep in mind that disabling the lock will allow someone to easily access the data on your phone if it falls in the wrong hands.
Q: What is “rooting” my phone; should I do it?
A: As a matter of security all Linux operating systems limit access to system files as a means of protecting the device from hackers. If you want to modify your system you need to gain what’s called “root” access, a process known as “rooting.” There are several rooting apps available in the Android Market you can get free of charge. As for whether or not you should do so, it’s recommended you stay away from it unless you need access to the system files or you’re downloading an app that requests root privileges.
Q: How do I import the contacts from my previous phone?
A: In order to import contacts your old phone must be able to export them in VCF format. Open the contacts list in your old phone, select all of them, and export them to your SD card as VCF files. You can then do one of two things: insert the SD card into your new Android phone and import the contacts one by one via Gmail, or transfer the VCF files to your PC and use the Windows command line to compile them into a single list before importing them with your phone. The command you need for the second option is:
for /F “delims=” %i in (‘dir /b *.vcf’) do @more “%i” >> all.vcf
Q: How do I flash my phone?
A: Whenever there is a firmware update for your phone you’ll need to flash the device’s ROM. The process is slightly different depending on the model of your device, so be sure to look up your specific model online before you attempt to flash. That said, the process usually involves downloading the new ROM, transferring it to a microSD card, then booting your device in download mode so you can access the updated ROM and install it. On most Android devices you boot into download mode by simultaneously holding the down volume and home keys while pushing the power button. If you’re unsure of how to flash your device, take it to someone who does so you don’t render your phone useless.