Ah, the technology gods were smiling and blessed you with a new Android device this holiday. In your giddiness, you’ve probably already downloaded a couple of apps, played some games, and even watched some YouTube videos. Now though, you’re stuck wondering what else is out there, and might be having a little buyer’s remorse (i.e., “I wish I bought an iDevice). Fortunately, you found this blog and this post, among the many others discussing Android, where you’ll find some resources to take away the remorse.
Setting up your device
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your device setup. Part of the Android setup process involves linking to a Google account, they’re free. You can use other methods like Exchange, but I prefer Google.
In fact, if you’re not already managing your law business with Google Apps, you might want to look at that. Setting up the account is a matter of following the instructions, typing correctly, and waiting a minute to sync.
Once you’re setup with Google, you’re able to sync your Gmail, contacts, and calendar.
The app stores
You should know that unlike iOS, Android has many app stores you can use. My two favorites are Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android. Your Google account will give you access to Google Play, while your Amazon account links with the Amazon store. Both stores allow you to download apps, movies, books, magazines, and music, although Amazon is a little more limited in permissible material.
I prefer these markets because of their reputations. One of the advantages, and disadvantages, to all of the Android app markets is the “open design”; anyone can upload any app to the markets. That means there are a number of viruses. Google Play and Amazon closely monitor their uploaded applications for malicious apps. Though it’s not a perfect method, there’s a slightly bigger sense of security sticking to the bigger markets.
Obviously, Google Play is powered by Google. Through the years, Google Play evolved from a simple app-only market, to a full-fledged entertainment realm to rival Apple’s iTunes. The several Google Play apps link your Android device to the offered content. From there, it’s a matter of selecting the content and waiting for a download. Google Music recently offered a music “scan and match” app to find music that’s playing.
Amazon Appstore for Android
The Amazon.com store emerged after Google Play (well, technically before Google Play, but after the Android market, Google Play’s predecessor), to feature content for Amazon’s Kindle brand of Android devices.
Getting started with the Amazon Appstore is slightly different than using Google Play, since you can’t find the app in the Play Store and you have to “sideload” the app. Don’t worry though, Amazon has a great how-to on getting the Appstore app on your device.
One of the key product features of the Amazon store that differentiates it from Google Play is the free-app-a-day offering. On most days the app is a lousy game, but occasionally you’ll find a great offering. Most of the apps available in Google Play are available on Amazon.
You can also download the free Amazon Kindle app (Google Play | Amazon) to read magazines and books. I prefer reading books on the Kindle app. Amazon even offers a music and storage service that is exactly like Google’s, with an accompanying Android app.
How about them apps?
Okay, with one or both of the app markets on your device, it’s time to get into the app nitty gritty. Practically every Android blog you read has their list of top Android apps — you can grab my list of the best apps here. This list covers a lot of the popular and lawyer-specific Android apps. For truly lawyer-specific apps, you’ll want to view this list (if you know of something to add, please do so).
Now it’s time to outfit your device. You can check out some accessories on Amazon, where you’ll find an assortment of items. I recommend getting a screen protector, such as Armor Suit, that will limit scratches and marks on your device’s valuable screen.
If you have a tablet, you might want to try getting a stylus, which will help improve your writing abilities. I’ve tried a couple cheap ones and found the Wacom Bamboo stylus after a review from iPhone J.D. The stylus works well. Not perfect, but well.
I have a car mount for my phone that allows me to use my Android phone’s built-in navigation. Though I’m likely to upgrade my device to a Samsung Galaxy S III, I’m hesitant because I love my car dock so much.
One accessory I’m starting to really love is my micro-HDMI connection cable. I love being able to connect my Android tablet to my television and watch YouTube videos, Netflix, or other movies. The kids and I are really enjoying this video. Note: be sure to get micro and not mini cables.
One final accessory you might consider is a keyboard. I purchased a keyboard as an accessory for my ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity, and I couldn’t be happier. The keyboard improves mobility and productivity, which saves time in the end.
Did you know?
One of the features that sets Android OS apart from iOS is the ability to customize your Android phone or tablet. Did you know you can add widgets, live wallpapers, and even a custom Android operating system?
Widgets are tiny sub-applications that attach to your Android homescreen. The widgets can control your music or give you a live look at the weather. Most apps come with a widget. Be aware though, widgets will use battery power and can use data to access information. Use caution.
Want to add a sense of realism to your device’s desktop? Then add a live wallpaper. Unlike a static picture, the live wallpaper adds motion and life to an otherwise boring picture. Right now, Santa Claus is flying over a snow storm above trees with flashing lights.
Android is an “open system,” which means that developers have access to the Android operating system code and can manipulate it to their pleasure. Amazon “forked” the Android OS to create and monopolize its line of Amazon Kindle Fire devices.
Installing a custom ROM isn’t for the novice user, since it requires rooting your device, flashing a new operating system, and modifying some other features. When the flash is said and done though, you’re going to be running something fiercely cool.
One of the most popular custom ROM developers is the Cyanogenmod ROM. This Android community develops custom ROMs for most of today’s Android devices.
Well, there you have it. There’s no reason to regret your decision to get an Android device. I dumped my iOS envy long ago (and here). Android devices are becoming the must-have accessory for productivity, gaming, and coolness. With bigger screens, faster processing speeds, and an equal number of apps, Android is innovating iOS into oblivion.