So you own a new Android, congratulations for the right choice. You heard about all those exciting things you can do with Android phones but it looks complicated? DON’T PANIC! No need a master’s degree in computer science to enjoy your new device. Just a little understanding.
I will try to help you with some basic terms and features, and I”ll update this guide as soon as I stumble with some new ones.
I am sure that this guide is far from completion so please leave a comment below if you notice something I forgot and I will update the post.
Let’s start …
General and versions:
Android – an open source operating system for mobile phones by Google.
Open Source – A software with an open source code which is accessible to anyone who wishes. the code is free for viewing, using, editing, and distributing for each and every one.
AOSP – Android Open Source Project. Android source code. All the official versions of Android, and most versions of the various developers – are built according to this source code.
Sense UI – the user interface of HTC. The interface is based on the AOSP, but comes with many more features from HTC.
Motoblur – the user interface of Motorola. Also is based on the AOSP but comes with its own changes.
Rachel UI – user interface from Sony Ericsson.
TouchWiz – user interface from Samsung.
Root / SU – an administrator permission for the device (SU = SuperUser). With this permission you can edit files in the ‘System’ of the device. carriers / manufactures are tend to block access to the system in order to keep the users from editing the OS of the device. An access to those system folders, will give us the ability to add themes, modify the look of the user interface, install certain apps that requires root access, etc…
ROM – (Read Only Memory) the part of the memory that contain the operating system / our current Android version.
Wipe – restore factory settings. Delete all the data and settings the user added or modified on the of the device. In other words: restoring the device to the point it has the same conditions as you first got if from the store.
Android SDK – (System Developer’s Kit) the development environment of the open source Android. Including accessories, simulator, and more.
ADB – form of communication device. In ADB device connected via USB to the computer, and we will use the CMD window on your computer to call the device with commands. Guide is coming soon.
Shell / Terminal – a place where we write the commands to the operating system.
Nandroid – backup and restore tool of the entire operating system. You need a root permissions for this.
A2SD – (Application’s To SD card) by default, the apps we download to the device, stored on the device’s internal memory. with A2SD you can transfer them to a special partition in the SD card, in order to save memory. Most of the recent devices from 2011 have a large enough internal memory so this is not so important anymore.
OTA – (Over The Air) Most official updates to Android are made this way. Google / the manufacturers upload the update and push it to the various devices. Alert of the update appears on the top bar of the device, and with one click the device updates itself.
Who is responsible for updating the device?
Good question because in most cases the device was bought from a mobile carrier (AT&T, Orange, T – Mobile, etc…), the manufacturers (Motorola, Samsung, HTC etc..) has produced it, and the operating system comes from Google. So in order to know who is supposed to update our device to a newer Android versions later, we need to understand who is the mother and father of our device.
Google - the easiest and most simple. The Nexus devices for example (Nexus One, Nexus S and the upcoming Nexus Galaxy) were built by the manufacturers (HTC, Samsung), but Google is the owner of them. Usually come with the AOSP version of Android and it is very likely that such devices will get the updates first.
Manufacturers - for example: HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, etc… Although the Android operating system comes from Google, manufacturers tend to integrate to it their own content, such as system and user interfaces, certain applications, etc… The responsible for updating these devices are, of course, manufacturers. Usually released a bit after the release of Google’s update. The reason for the delay is that the updated version coming out from Google must be tailored to the devices and to the old versions of the manufacturer updates. Sometimes, due to the hard work involved in adapting the Google update to the manufacturers version and devices, manufacturers tend to give up on the updates (for example HTC upgraded from 1.6 straight to 2.2).
Mobile Carriers - for example: MyTouch from T – Mobile. Similar to the previous section on manufacturers, but with even more delay on getting the updated versions. for example: the Mytouch is a device from American cellular carrier T-Mobile, but T-mobile not producing it, the “My – Touch ” is a version of the HTC Magic but as a brand of T-Mobile. So this is what happens: Google releases new version -> HTC takes the new source code and appropriate it for its handsets, finally releasing its updated code -> T – Mobile takes the code of HTC and fit it to its version of the operating system.
Here we have two options. 1- Wait for the update by the carrier, which is likely never will happen unless it’s a brand (like the Mytouch of T-mobile). 2- Get the update from the manufacturer (usually from their website), in this case we would lose all the content that the Carrier added to the device. note that on sometimes the carriers will add the non usual languages so in that case, if you update from the manufacturer, you will lose those languages.
Now, after you had some background, and understand the basic terms, you are welcome to continue to the rest of the guides, and enjoy your mobile as much as you can.
One of the greatest features of Android is the option to change the keyboard to a completely new one. There are a lot of keyboards on the market with many differences in the user interfaces and functions.
- You can read more here: Keyboards for Android and how to install them