A beginners guide…

Android is now the most common operating system installed on smartphones; because it is an open platform-unlike Apple’s iOS- the majority of mobile phone manufacturers including Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC, choose to run a version Android on their handsets.

So if you’ve got an Android smartphone and you’re not so familiar with how to use it, here is a simple guide to take you through its main functions; if you’re new to the smartphone arena, there’s no need to panic, Android is one of the easiest operating systems to navigate around!

Home screens

The first thing to take note of is Android’s user interface. All Android mobile phones feature a number of home screens (the exact number depends on the specific handset that you have), which are scrollable screens that display your most used apps


Control Buttons

All Androids display the same three control buttons to make it easier for you to navigate around your phone.


App Screen

In order to make it simpler for the user, Android phones essentially tidy away all of your applications (that is to say features such as your email, text messages, camera and calculator etc.) into another screen specifically housing your apps.


By pressing this button on your phone’s home screen: the app screen will launch, allowing you to scroll through all of the applications and features downloaded to your device.



As you scroll through your app screens, you will see that you come to the Widgets page. Widgets are essentially dynamic features which update in real time. These can include things such as a clock, the weather or sticky notes, which can be pinned to your home screen to make it quicker for you to, for example, find out the time, or see what the weather is doing outside.


Rearranging apps

The main purpose of your home screens is to display the apps that you use most often. The best way to organise your home screens, therefore, is to decide which apps you use most, and to then pin these to your home screen.


To do this, simply open up the app screen as mentioned above, then press and hold the app that you want to move. Your phone will then display your home screens, allowing you to drag the app into whichever position you like. Once you have pinned an app, you can hold it down to select it, then move or delete it as you wish.


A new feature of Android is the ability to organise your apps into folders. If you are anything like me, you’ll appreciate the fact that you can tidy away all of your loose apps into dedicated folders for, say, work, or for your children to use.


To do this, simply hold down the app that you want to place into a group, and hover it over another app that you want to group. You will see a bubble appear around these apps, meaning that Android has filed them into a new folder. You can then rename this folder to whatever you want, making it easier to find specific apps on your home screen in a hurry.

Notifications bar


All Android phones also offer a shortcut to reach your settings and notifications. Simply swipe your finger from the top of the screen to the bottom, and you will see your notifications menu appear.

By pressing on this icon:


you can also access your settings, or take a quick look at how much battery your phone has left, as well as viewing your WiFi signal, Bluetooth status and alarms.


Whenever you receive a message, an email or a Facebook notification, you can also view these in this menu by scrolling from the top of the screen as described above. Easy!

To close this, simply swipe from the bottom of the screen upwards.

Google Play Store

You will have heard a million mentions of the word ‘app’ already in this article, and this is because the main purpose of the smartphone is based around apps. Apps are applications (or programs) which your phone will either come pre-installed with, or which you can download from the app store.


Android’s own version of the app store is called the Google Play Store, and by launching this app,

you will have access to thousands of apps, games, songs, books and magazines (many are free, but some require you to pay using a credit or debit card).

Simply search for a specific app, or browse through the most popular apps within the store. Select ‘Install’ and watch as the app appears on your home screen.

How to use Android

So there you have it; this simple how-to guide should help any first-time smartphone user to get to grips with their Android phone. Once you get used to the basic use of apps, home screens and menus, you’ll soon discover how to personalise the device to make it suitable for your own individual needs.

About the author

Charlotte Kertrestel is an enthusiastic tech writer who currently contributes to, a website which compares mobile phones, offers news stories, phone reviews and in-depth articles.


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