Thursday, March 18, 2010

Psst.... hey, check out these Apps! (Part 1)

Part 1

Applications are a big part of the reason I'm Addicted to Android. I read recently that it only took about 3 months for the market to go from 15k to 30k applications. Not to get too technical, but the fact that Android is open source means that you'll be able to do things that iPhone users can only dream of! Obviously there are quite a few out there to choose from and sometimes that can be overwhelming, so today I want to share with you some of my favorite applications. These are things that help me get through the day!

But, keeping in mind that this is a blog for beginners too, let's start with the basics. Applications are programs designed to run on your Android phone. They can serve any purpose, from playing music to finding your car in the mall parking lot. Your phone comes pre-loaded with some applications like Gmail, Maps, and Messaging. Other apps are available through the preloaded application called 'Android Market'. Lest you get the mistaken idea that this is the only place you can get apps I'll start by showing you how to download an application from the market that can give you an alternate source for apps.

So let's get started:

1. Make sure your phone is at the Home screen. You can reach this screen from anywhere by pressing the Home key (it's appropriately labeled with a little house).

2. At the bottom of your screen you should see a little gray box with a triangle pointing up towards the notification bar. Touch it and slide your finger upwards to bring up the Applications Drawer.

3. Scroll through the applications until you find the little green android robot on a shopping bag labeled 'Market'. Tap it to open it up.

4. If you're not signed in to Google you will be asked to do so at this point. If you are signed in but you've never used the Market app before you'll be asked to accept the terms of use. Go ahead and press 'I agree,' if you're okay with the terms.

5. Now you're in the Android Market. At the top you should see the Market icon and a magnifying glass. Below are some featured applications take a minute now to look at the applications listed. Note that to the left is the application's icon, then its name and publisher and finally its cost and user rating.

6. See if which of the titles is interesting to you, then pick one and tap it. You'll be greeted with a bit more information about what the application does and a button to install it, below which you'll find the comments of users who have rated the application. These can often be helpful find in determining whether to give an app a shot or not.

7. Now that you're familiar with the Market's format, let's find an application and download it. Press the Back key to return to the previous screen. Then press the magnifying glass to bring up the search dialogue.

8. Now search for 'Barcode Scanner'. After a brief search you should find more than a few options for barcode scanning applications (mine returned 43 results).

9. I am partial to an application called 'ScanLife Barcode Reader'. Tap it, you'll get the information on the application like we explored before. This time we know we want this app already so we'll just click the 'Install' button at the bottom.

10. The next screen will look very similar to the one we just left, except that application information here pertains to which of your phone's functionalities the application has access to. Instead of an install button at the bottom you have the option to either Ok the app, or Cancel it. Press 'Ok'

11. Now touch the top of the screen and pull down the Notifications Bar . You should see the application's download progress under the Ongoing section here. When it's finished you should get a notification if you're not in this screen and the app should drop down to Notifications with a note underneath saying successfully installed. To open it you can either click the notification or you can find it in your application drawer like we did with the Market at the beginning of this exercise.

You are now the proud owner of Barcode Scanner. In Part 2 I'll show you how to use Barcode Scanner to download apps!

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