Get a new Android device? What MUST you do?

It's just past the holiday season, and as is often, we get presents.  (or in my case buy a lot of presents to spoil the lil'un in my life)

Some are luckier than others and got a new Android device, or got their first device.  So... now that you have it, what MUST you do with it?

This is a question I find myself asking as I've seen more and more new users come to Android in the past while... that and I've seen users of Android still not adopt some of the items that I see as a 'must do'.

So, keep in mind that this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily the law of Android.  Also, I'll be doing separate posts down the road to show you in each step, how you can do those if you don't know how.

What you must do with it is obviously your own preference, but here's my suggestions, and these can vary greatly depending on the type of device you own.

As for apps, I'll list some of my suggestions, but if you want even more suggestions; The Verge has their 12 best apps article.


First things first - ensure you set up your Gmail account.  Make sure it's one you use... if it's not one you use, well, start using it.  We can show you how to import your other accounts!  Everything you do on your phone is focused on that account.  One thing I talk about a lot when i review apps is ensuring there's a parallel between my phone and my web.  It only makes sense.

Having your Gmail account right, means that your calendar is correct on the web and your phone (make sure when you add new items to your calendar you're adding them to the Google Calendar, and not just the phone).  It means your contacts are viewable on the web as well.  The same will apply for many of the Google services you'll use down the road (Reader, Play Books, Music, etc...)

Nothing really cheeses me off more than seeing a device and asking them their account info so I can add them to Talk, or Latitude and them saying "gee, I dunno, the guy in the store set it up".  It's like you didn't really want a Google device to begin with.

That being said, make sure when you add a new item to your calendar, that it's going to the appropriate calendar (your work's exchange, your family gmail calendar, whatever).  Same thing goes for adding a new contact.  Note the highlighted in yellow in the first photo, and the "Google Contact" in the 2nd.



One of the things I like to promote to others is Google+.  I won't get into how it is such an awesome social network, but for those that take photos, it's a life saver.  It automatically backs up your photos to a private album.  It'll do both a photo at full resolution (up to a total of 5GB worth) and one at a lower resolution (unlimited space).

There are also other cloud options to look into, Dropbox and SugarSync jump readily to mind as the 2 bigger contenders for photobackup.  Take a look at the database to see how each others stack up against them.

Google+ adds the advantage of a) being the same login as your GMAIL account (no having to make a new login, with new username/password), and b) a killer social network.

Other backup items, well... it's a phone, I don't think there's ever DIRE information, but if you need to SugarSync has the option of selecting folders (say a specific apps files) for auto-sync.  Titanium Backup is another great option to backup the whole device for a simple 'restore' should things go awry.


Nothing is worse than being around a bunch of 'iUsers' and they all have the same notification sound, or ringtone.  It's quite funny being in a meeting and all hearing the 'da-ding' sound and a bunch of heads all look down to see if it's their device.  Pavlov's dogs, I tell ya.

So, make your phone yours.  There's several ways to do this.

Try another launcher.  +Tom Gray just posted about Nova Launcher's new update.  This gives you a way to edit how your 'main screen' or your home screens look.  Some come with new widgets.

Set up your home screens the way YOU want them.  Add widgets.  Add folders for icons... change the background.  I'll do some separate posts on how these are accomplished.

Download Zedge (download from the Play Store) as it's a great way to set some real custom ringtones for your device.  From phone ringers (for specific people -- my wife has the Imperial March set for me), to specific notification sounds (I use Strong Bad's email for my work account's notification).  It's a perfect way to set your phone apart.

+Zedge even has some simple photos for contacts or backgrounds.

Try out different keyboards.  I personally am sold on SwiftKey Flow right now.  But there's some other great contenders:  Swype, SwiftKey 3, Thumb Keyboard, TouchPal, .... each with their own features and themes.  Find out what works for you!  With Android you're not limited to just using the stock version (however the JB stock keyboard is pretty good).


Get AirDroid (download from the Play Store) as it's bar-none, the best way to control your phone without using it directly.

At the most base, it's a dead simple way to upload/download files to/from your phone.  Best part is, there's no wires needed whatsoever.  You can see your text messages and reply to them from your computer.  It's awesome.


Check if your device has the latest update.  Nothing worse than being stuck on an older version, especially if you are eligible for the new features.

It should give you a notification when there is an option available, but sometimes not... so check it out by:

Click Menu / Settings / About Phone / System Updates then choose Check Now.

Take a look at our database for Firmware Upgrades to see if your phone has an update available.  If it says one is eligible but you can't get the update there's a trick for that.  Go into Menu / Apps / choose All (you may have to swipe over) and find Google Services Framework, click it and 'clear data'.  Then go into your dialer and punch in *#*#checkin#*#* (2432546), and it should give you a notice of 'checkin completed'.  Then go back and look for an update.  The trick sort of re-establishes the link to 'home base' and can sometimes jump start your update status.


  • Do the easter egg... that's just cool
    • Menu / Settings / About Phone
    • tap "Android Version" repeatedly.  Depending on your version something will appear
      • 2.3 - a zombie gingerbread pic appears
      • 4.0.x - an ICS droid appears, long press on him to get a field of flying nyan-droids
      • 4.1.x & 4.2.x - a jelly bean appears, long press on him to get a field of floating beans you can fling around
  • GrooveIP - we want long distance for free no?  Especially without Google Voice proper in Canada
  • If you've got JellyBean - start using Google Now
  • Root your device!
    • Rooting doesn't mean replacing your whole system (however, unlocking the bootloader to put in the insecure element, allowing root will reset your phone - so it's best to do it early).  It means you get access to your FULL phone, not just what's on the surface.  This means you can go ahead and learn more about what's in there, learn to customize / theme, learn to find out where your files truly are, and back those up, set up AirDroid to have screenshots (great for showing off like in our Hangouts).
What are your 'must do' steps for your new device?  What questions do you have (keep in mind over the next few days I'll have tutorials for each as I listed above).


  1. I guess I should also add that "BE WARY OF WHAT YOU INSTALL".

    Sure, explore the Play store, but don't just "download all the things"... my sis in law has over 400 apps downloaded.

  2. Thank you Ryan for getting me educated on my phone...I have alot to learn & you have already taught me a few things....keep it coming!!


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