Android Basics: Common Tasks

Lesson 4: Common Tasks


Working with apps

At this point, you've turned on your device and gotten it all set up. You're probably eager to start using it—for things like taking pictures, sending text messages, and all that other fun stuff.

Fortunately, these tasks are fairly easy. You just have to know what apps to look for and how to organize them so they're easier to get to. Soon, things like making phone calls and customizing your Home screen will start to feel like second nature.

Finding a specific app

Apps can be found in two places on your device. The first is the Home screen, which should include shortcuts to several common apps by default (you can even add your own—we'll show you how in a minute). The second is the Apps view, where you can access every app on your device.

home screen and apps view

As you can see from the image above, you'll open the Apps view using the icon on the Home screen. The icon may look different on your device—sometimes it's a circle, sometimes it's shaped like a grid or a square. It just depends on your make and model.

To add an app to the Home screen:

Adding an app to the Home screen is a lot like adding a shortcut on your computer desktop. You're not moving or altering the original app in any way—you're just creating a link. Ultimately, this is a great way to make your favorite apps easier to get to.

  1. Open the Apps view, then find the app you want.
    selecting an app
  2. Tap and hold the app (be careful not to let go!), and you'll be taken to a special view of your Home screen.
  3. Continue to hold the app while you decide where to put it. If your primary Home screen is full, you should be able to access/create another one by dragging the app all the way to the right.
    positioning an app
  4. Release the app once you've chosen a spot, and it will be added to your Home screen.
    new shortcut

To navigate between Home screens, swipe left or right.

To move (or remove) Home screen apps:

With a little know-how, you can easily rearrange your Home screen icons any way you want. You can also remove any shortcuts you don't need, like if your device came with a shortcut you don't really use.

  1. Make sure you're on the Home screen, then tap and hold the shortcut you want to edit. This should give you control of the icon.
  2. To move it, drag and drop the icon to a new location.
    moving an app
  3. To remove it, drag the icon to the Remove option. (Keep in mind that this won't delete the app from your device. It will only remove the shortcut from the Home screen.)
    removing an app

Phone calls and texting

Now that you know how to find and organize the apps you need, there's no limit to what you can do. Here are some other tasks you might be interested in while you're still getting used to your device.

To make a phone call:

Every smartphone comes with an app for making phone calls. Yours may look different from the example below, but the overall experience—including opening the app and using the keypad—should be the same.

  1. Open the Phone app on your device. It's usually located in the tray at the bottom of the screen.

    opening the phone app
  2. The keypad should appear.
  3. Enter the number you want to call, then tap the phone button to continue. (If the person is in your contacts list, the information may pop up automatically. We'll take a closer look at contacts in our lesson on Managing Contacts.)
    making a phone call
  4. When you're done, tap the red button to hang up.
    ending a phone call

As you may have gathered, tablets don't come with a phone feature. If you're interested in making calls with your tablet, you might want to look into an alternative like Skype.

To send a text message:

  1. Open the Messaging app on your device.
    opening the messaging app
  2. To start a new conversation, look for the new message button.
    creating a new text message
  3. Enter the phone number of the person you want to text (or type the contact's name if he or she is already in your contacts list).
    entering the recipient's name
  4. Enter your message, then press the Send button.
    sending a text message
  5. When the other person replies, his or her message should appear in the same conversation thread.

Traditional text messaging is done through your device's phone number—that's why tablets don't have this feature. As an alternative, you can use the Hangouts app for chatting, or you can check the Play Store for other messaging apps.

The Hangouts app

Many newer devices come with an app called Hangouts. You can use it to send and receive text messages just like you would with the Messaging app—the difference is that it can be used for Google chat as well. This makes it a great choice if you do a lot of texting and chatting. To learn more, check out Hangouts on Google Play.

the hangouts app

Taking photos

The camera app can vary quite a bit from device to device. Not to worry—the interface should still be fairly intuitive. If you have questions about how your particular camera works, try checking your manual or your manufacturer's website.

To take a photo:

  1. Open your device's Camera app.
    opening the camera app
  2. The camera view should appear.
  3. If the picture is blurry, try tapping your subject to refocus.
    re-focusing the camera
  4. To take a picture, tap the camera button.
    taking a picture

Many devices give you the option to launch the camera directly from your lock screen. To see if your device has this feature, look for an icon like the example below.

lock screen icon

Accessing your device's settings

Once you're more familiar with your device, you might feel inclined to customize some of your settings. These settings let you control everything from the volume of your notifications to the way your lock screen works. They can even tell you how much storage space you're using.

We'll talk about various settings throughout this tutorial, so it's important to know how to access them. As for customizing them, we recommend taking the time to explore your options on your own. Because every device is different, your settings will be a reflection of whatever makes yours unique.

To open your settings:

  1. Open the Settings app on your device. If it isn't already on your Home screen, you'll find it in the Apps view.
    opening the settings app
  2. Your settings will appear.
  3. Scroll through the list to find the section or setting you're looking for. Common sections include Wireless & Networks (where you can manage your connections) and Device (for personalizing your device).
    list of settings

Some devices will include shortcuts to your settings in the Notification Shade. To get there, swipe down from the top of your screen, then tap the icon in the upper-right corner.

settings shortcuts