Some Android tips

I've been using a Nexus One as my primary phone for about a year now. Here are some tips and suggestions I've accumulated. Most of these tips should also apply to the Nexus S and the G2 (which have stock Android builds), as well as to other Android phones (Froyo+) modulo any vendor customizations.

  • Press and hold the Search button to activate voice search / voice actions. This is indispensable! I use it a least a couple of times every day. It makes the phone feel like future tech, not least because it's dramatically better than anything I regularly deal with in phone systems or on PCs. The phone recognizes special instructions, including things like the following (for anything it doesn't recognize as an action, it asks you to disambiguate or it falls back to a Google search):
    • "Call Phil Sung, mobile"
    • "Navigate to Fry's Electronics"
    • "Map of gas stations"
    • "Note to self, buy more envelopes" (which sends you an email from yourself)
  • Press and hold the Home button to easily get a list of recently used apps.
  • Press and hold the Menu button to toggle the display of the soft keyboard. Not usually needed, but occasionally useful.
  • When using the soft keyboard, you can drag your finger past the top edge of the keyboard for quick access to digits and punctuation.
  • If you add your email address to the user dictionary, you can get it in the list of autocompletions when filling out forms in the web browser.
  • It's important to control the quantity of notifications so that they're at a level that is actually useful. Depending on how important some event is, you can configure the phone to make noise or merely to show you a notification the next time you turn on the phone. As an example, here's how I'm set up:
    • My phone only rings for phone calls, SMS, and IMs.
    • GMail generates a notification in the notification area but no noise (configurable in GMail settings). Even so, I implemented an elaborate system of GMail filters to keep all but the most important emails from getting to my inbox and thus generating notifications.
    • Calendar events generate neither noise nor notifications (configurable in Calendar settings). Instead, I put the Calendar widget on my home screen, and I just look at it whenever I need to. My calendar time is pretty sparsely scheduled, though. YMMV.

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