The first things you should do with that new Android phone

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 26 Dec 2014

So Santa came through answered your wish for a new Android phone. ’re a bit partial to Android here, so obviously we think you’ve (or, the guy in the red suit) made a great choice.

Before you get lost in playing all those cool games, there are some housekeeping details to tend to. Carriers phone makers do funny things, loading your phone up with bloatware or making odd decisions about default apps. 

By taking a little bit of time to make a few tweaks, you’ll make sure you’re tapping into all the best features of Android. Thanks to its bevy of apps in the ay Store, you can get most of these cool features even if you’re not running the latest version of llipop.

Get the Now uncher

A lot of phone manufacturers modify Android with a custom interface that is busy, complicated, or just a poor use of space. The first step towards a cleaner interface is the Now uncher. It puts a persistent search bar on the home screen (tap the mic to do a voice search!) Now one swipe away. Not only is it useful, but the Now uncher looks great provides a nice clean canvas to put your apps widgets on. 

google now galaxy s4

st swipe to the right to go right into Now with the official Android launcher.

It also puts travel, sports, even bill reminders right in front of you. Making one swipe to the right to check Now has become an essential part of managing the details of my day.

Use Hangouts for better messaging

Some people actually still leave voicemail messages. Fortunately, you don’t have to listen to them if you use Voice. It can transcribe all your voicemails (it’s mostly accurate) store them all in Hangouts or in the Voice web interface.

The tools services inside of Voice have moved inside of Hangouts, which keeps getting new features as part of ’s effort to make it your central communications hub.

google voice hangouts

Use Voice for all your voicemail or other messaging needs.

Hangouts of course does instant messaging, is a nice way to sync up your communications if you want to chat across the desktop your mobile device. However, it’s still a little clunky when it comes to SMS MMS messages. So if you’d rather keep those chats separate, go with another texting app like the great-looking Messenger or the equally slick QKSMS.

Back up your photos with +

l it takes is an unexpected drop or some other catastrophe your phone is toast, along with all those irreplaceable photos you had on it.

For a little peace of mind, enable automatic backup through + otos. Updates to the otos app come through the + app, though otos has its own icon functions independantly.

google photos

Keep all your photos nice safe in + otos.

Select to back up at full resolution so you don’t miss anything from the quality of the original picture. oto backups do count against your 15GB of free Drive store, but extra space is cheap enough at $2 a month for 100GB.

It also will automatically merge some of your photos with its Auto Awesome feature, creating some fun mashups. Don’t worry, the original photos are there, too.

Browse smarter with Chrome

Believe it or not, some phones still include a terrible default browser. You should be using Chrome – sign in to your account then sync up your bookmarks open tabs on other devices. 

chrome roid browse

Sync up your tabs bookmarks by signing in to Chrome.

If you want to live on the edge a little, there is a beta version that you can run side-by-side on your Android device. en opening a link, be sure to pick the version of Chrome you want to use as your default browser. 

If you’re a Firefox fan, the same applies: there is a stable beta version of Mozilla’s browser. It also gets regular updates, with the team hard at work at giving Chrome a run for its money.

Set up your music player

l the major music streaming services offer an Android app – Spotify, Rdio, Beats, ra, ay Music. So in one sense, moving ecosystems has never been easier for your music collection. st download your favorite app, sign in, start listening to your music.

play music start video

Instead of just listening to that song, play its video from YouTube instead.

If you’re coming over from the Apple ecosystem, you might want to take a look at ay Music. It has a rather simple method for importing all your music from iTunes through its desktop interface. 

import music google play

Upload your iTunes collection to ay Music.

so, you can use the voice comm, “OK , play music” it will start a custom radio station based on your interests (assuming you have been listening to music through the app). 

Get a smarter keyboard

There are several good keyboards you can pick from – don’t restrict yourself to whatever your phone maker slapped on there as the default. Swiftkey, Swype, Fleksy are all excellent choices. And has stepped up its game, steadily improving its keyboard giving it a nice Material Design look.

swiftkey keyboard note

SwiftKey is one of several good choices as your default keyboard.

And unlike on iOS, your keyboard of choice won’t get booted at any point (Apple restricts you to its own keyboard for filling out secure forms). th so many customization choices there isn’t any reason not to try out different options see what suits you best.