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About Android 
What is the most recent version of Android
The most recent version of Android is 7.0 "Nougat", which was released in August 2016. To learn more, visit Android History at the official Android website.
 
How can I tell which version I have?
The steps for checking your version vary depending on your device (sometimes depending on your version, believe it or not!). Below are general instructions that should work for most Android devices.

1: Open your device's settings.

2: Look for an option that says About Device, About Phone, or something similar.

3: Find your Android version on the list of specifications.

 
How do I get the most recent version?
The most recent compatible version will be sent to your device automatically whenever there's an update or new release. All you have to do is accept, and your device will take care of the rest. If you have an older phone or tablet, you may not be able to upgrade to the latest version.
 
What are the differences between versions?
Sometimes the differences are purely cosmetic; sometimes they can affect your device in more important ways. Below are just a few examples of things that might be different from version to version:

1: Icons, screen layout, and other visual elements

2: New apps or features

3: Changes to existing features "Hidden" improvements that may boost your device's performance

 

First Steps 
Getting to know a new mobile device can be pretty exciting, especially if this is your first smartphone or tablet. The key is to start with the basics and take it one step at a time so you don't get overwhelmed.

First, make sure you're comfortable with the interface, including the screen, some of the built-in apps, and the various gestures you'll use to get around. Then you can move on to some other fundamental tasks, like connecting to the Internet using Wi-Fi

 
Google Account

The first time you turn on your device, you'll be asked to set up a few different things, including your preferred language, the date and time, and (most importantly) your Google account. If you don't have a Google account yet, you can create one during the setup process.

There are a few reasons this step is so important. In short, your Google account is your identity on your device. Not only does it connect you to the cloud - where things like photos and contacts are stored - but it also gives you access to the Play Store, where you can download and purchase apps. The more you use your device, the more you'll see how integrated your Google account really is.

You may have a Google account already if you use any other Google services, like Gmail, Chrome, Google Drive, or even YouTube. For more information, check out our Google Account tutorial.

 
Getting to know your device
Once your device is set up, you should be taken to a simple screen with some icons, buttons, and other miscellaneous features. This is actually one of the most important parts of your device - it's called the Home screen - and it's where you'll store all your favorite apps.

Remember, every Android device is unique. This means your experience may vary depending on your device.

Phone for making phone calls
Messaging for text messaging, or Hangouts for text messaging plus Google chat
Email for managing your email, or Gmail if you have a Gmail account
People for your contacts list (may also be called Contacts)
Chrome for browsing the Web (may also be called Internet or Browser)
Camera for taking photos and videos
Play Store for downloading apps
Settings for adjusting your settings

Some of these apps may be on your Home screen already. If they aren't, take a look in your Apps view. This special view gives you access to every app on your device. To open it, look for the icon near the bottom of the Home screen.

 
Basic gestures
Gestures are what you'll use to interact with your device's touchscreen. For instance, instead of clicking something with your mouse, you'll tap the screen with your finger. We'll refer to gestures throughout this tutorial, so make sure you're familiar with the examples below.

Tap to "click", select, or open something on your device, like a button or an app
Tap and hold to occasionally access other options (think of this as "right-clicking")
Drag to scroll up and down, left and right, or any other direction on the screen
Swipe left or right to "flip through" things, like pages on the Home screen, photos, or pages in an e-book
Double-tap to zoom in or out in certain apps, like Maps or Chrome
Pinch (i.e., open or close your thumb and forefinger) to zoom in or out almost anywhere

 
Accessing the internet
Your device can connect to the Internet almost anywhere, either though mobile data (3G/4G or LTE) or nearby Wi-Fi. So what exactly is the difference? Most data plans only give you a certain amount of data per month, and there can be repercussions if you go over your limit. With Wi-Fi, you can use the Internet as much as you want, and it won't count against your data.
To connect to Wi-Fi (optional):

Do you have access to a nearby Wi-Fi network (for example, at home or at work)? You can easily connect to it using the steps below. For networks that you access repeatedly, you generally only have to do this once. The next time you're in range, you'll be connected to the network automatically, as long as you leave the Wi-Fi feature turned on.

Make sure you're on the Home screen, then open the Apps view. Your icon is usually found in the Favorites tray near the bottom of the screen.

Tap the Settings icon. You may need to swipe through a few screens to find it.

Scroll through the list of settings until you find the Wi-Fi feature. If it isn't already set to ON, tap the control on the right.

When you're done, tap the word Wi-Fi. This will open a list of nearby networks.

To join a network, just tap the one you want. If the network is secured, you'll need to enter a password to connect to it.

When you're done, your device will remember the details of the network (including the password if applicable), so you can connect to it automatically in the future. If you ever want to change these settings, tap and hold the network name, then choose Forget or Modify.

If the network you're connecting to is unsecured, you can access it without a password, but you should think carefully before you do (especially if it's a public hotspot, like Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop). Anything you view or share over an unsecured network is not necessarily safe from prying eyes.

Keyboard tips
By now, you've probably already encountered the keyboard on your device. It's designed to pop up automatically whenever you need to type something; for example, when you're composing an email, searching the Web, or filling out a form.

This keyboard may be smaller than a traditional keyboard, but it comes with several convenient shortcuts to make typing easier. Things like symbols, numbers, and capital letters are actually easy to access - you just have to know where to look.

 

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.

Open the Apps view using the icon on the Home screen. The icon may look different on other devices - 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 from your 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.

Open the Apps view, then find the app you want.
selecting an app
Tap and hold the app (be careful not to let go!), and you'll be taken to a special view of your Home screen.
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
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.

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.
To move it, drag and drop the icon to a new location.

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.)

 
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.

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.

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

The keypad should appear.

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.)

When you're done, tap the red button to hang up.

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:

Open the Messaging app on your device.

To start a new conversation, look for the new message button.

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).

Enter your message, then press the Send button.

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.
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:

Open your device's Camera app.

The camera view should appear. If the picture is blurry, try tapping your subject to refocus.

To take a picture, tap the camera button.

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 on your device screen.

Accessing your device's settings
Once you're more familiar with your device, you might feel inclined to customise 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 customising 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.

Open the Settings app on your device. If it isn't already on your Home screen, you'll find it in the Apps view.

Your settings will appear.

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.

 

Settng Up Your Email
Getting started with email
Email is probably one of the first things you'll want to set up on your device. All you have to do is sign into your account using the appropriate app - then you can start sending and receiving messages just like you would on a regular computer.

The big question is, which email app should you use? There are quite a few options to choose from. Most people use the "official" app for their email service, such as the Outlook app by Microsoft or the Gmail app by Google. Here are some tips to help you get started.

 
If you have a Gmail account

If you use Gmail, you're in luck. The Gmail app comes pre-installed on every Android device, so you don't have to download anything from the Play Store. In addition, there's a good chance your account is connected to the app already (as long as you used the same Google account to set up your device).

The Gmail app is designed to work a lot like your regular inbox. You can read and reply to messages and archive or delete the ones you don't want. You can even add multiple accounts to the app, so you can access them all in the same place (we'll show you how below).

 
If you use a different email account

Gmail isn't the only service with its own app. All of the primary services have one, including Outlook, Yahoo!, Mail.com, and AOL. All you have to do is download the app from the Play Store, then install it on your device. If you've never used the Play Store before, you can learn more about it in our lesson on Downloading Apps.

Alternatively, you can use the all-purpose Email app, which comes pre-installed on most devices. Each version of this app is different, but it's generally designed to be more universal. In other words, you can use it to set up any type of account, including Outlook, Yahoo!, and everything in between. You can even use it to set up your work email (if your job or business uses some type of corporate account).

 
Adding multiple accounts

Almost every email app lets you add more than one account to your device. This option is great if you have multiple addresses - like separate ones for work and school - and you want to be able to access them in the same place.

The process for this can vary, but the general idea is the same. Start by going to your device's settings, then look for the option that says Add Account. Next, select the account type - for example, Google or Yahoo! - and follow the instructions.

 

Managing Contacts
What are contacts
Your contacts list is one of the most important things on your device. It's where you'll save contact information for the people you know, including their names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

This information isn't just for your records - it's also used by other apps. For instance, if you need to call or text one of your contacts, thankfully you don't have to remember his or her phone number. All you have to do is start entering information and the app will pull up the rest.

 
Adding contacts

If you have any existing Google contacts, they were most likely added when you set up your phone or tablet. Beyond that, you can easily add contacts manually. To get started, open the contacts app that came with your device. It's usually called People but may be called something else (for example, Contacts).

You can add a new contact using the add contact button (which is usually identified by a + sign or something similar). A list of fields will appear where you can enter any kind of information you need, including a person's name, email address, and multiple phone numbers.
filling out contact info

Sometimes you can add contacts directly from other apps, like if someone emails you for the first time and you'd like to save that person's address. To try this out, tap the person's information (or tap and hold if that doesn't work). You should be taken to a screen or dialog box where you can quickly add the person to your contacts.

 
Viewing and editing contacts

You'll return to the People app whenever you need to view or edit one of your contacts. Each version of this app is different (for example, yours might have different icons), but some tasks are still fairly universal. Here are some tips to help you learn your way around.

To browse your contacts, scroll up and down the list. They're usually sorted alphabetically by first name.

To search for a contact, tap the search button. You can find the person you're looking for by entering any contact information, including the contact's name, organization, or email address.

To view a contact, tap his or her name on the list. Their information will appear.

To edit or delete a contact, tap the menu button while viewing the contact's information. You'll find several options to choose from—you can even set an individual ring tone.

Using contacts

Whether you're making a phone call or sending a text, using your contacts list to pull up the information you need can be a huge time saver. There are two ways to put your contacts to use: You can start with the People app or go directly to the app you want to use.

To contact someone using the People app, navigate to the contact's information, then tap the item you want, like a phone number or email address. You can even tap the message icon next to the contact's phone number to send a text message instead. Once you tap one of these items, you'll be taken to the appropriate app.

To pull up someone's contact info in Gmail or Messaging - or another similar app - start typing anything that's saved to the contact's record, including his or her name, organization, or email address. It's a lot like performing a search of your contacts list. Once you've found the person you're looking for, tap the contact's information and the app will take care of the rest.

Wondering how to pull up someone's contact info in the Phone app? Try dialing part of the person's phone number or spelling his or her name with the keypad. This should bring up the rest of the information automatically.

 

Downloading Apps
Introduction to the Play Store
By now, you're probably familiar with the apps that came with your device. What if you're interested in downloading some more? That's where the Play Store comes in (also known as Google Play). The Play Store gives you access to thousands of apps, services, and other media - everything from games like Angry Birds to tools that can help you with everyday tasks.

Many of the apps in the Play Store can be downloaded for free. Others cost as little as £0.99, although some may be more expensive. To purchase apps from the Play Store, you'll need to have some form of payment on file with your Google account, such as PayPal or a credit card. If you don't have this set up yet, that's OK - the app will walk you through it.

 
Finding and installing apps

The Play Store comes pre-installed on every Android device. To get started, open the app. You can use the search feature to search for something specific, such as the name of an app, the company that makes it, or something descriptive (like "photo editor"). You also can tap Apps to browse the apps section of the store.

To download or learn more about an app, tap the one you're interested in. You'll be taken to the product page, where you can check out reviews, screenshots, and a description of the app. To download the app, tap the install button (it will say "install" if the app is free or will tell you the purchase price), then follow the rest of the instructions.

To return to the Play Store homepage, open the menu in the upper-left corner, then choose Store home. You can also use this menu to view your current apps, account settings, and more.

 
App safety
Many apps in the Play Store are perfectly legitimate; however, there will always be a few exceptions. For example, some apps may compromise your privacy by sharing your personal information with advertisers. Others may even contain malware, which can affect the operation of your device.

The best way to protect yourself is to stick to apps and brands you trust. You should also think critically about the app's reputation before downloading it, and review the app's permissions - especially if you're unfamiliar with the developer.

Reputation: Every app has a reputation of some kind. You can get a better idea of what it is by checking the user reviews and other details on the product page. For example, do you see a lot of negative comments? Does the app have fewer than 100 downloads? This is a pretty good indication that the app may be unreliable (or may even be unsafe or a scam). Use your judgement, and don't download anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Permissions: Apps need permission to access certain information on your device in order to work properly. Sometimes this information is completely necessary, and sometimes it isn't - it just depends on the context. For example, if you're downloading a simple flashlight app and it requests access to your phone, contacts, and location, you might want to reconsider. The app's reputation can also help you make smart decisions about permissions.

Uninstalling apps

Uninstalling an app only takes a few minutes. There are two ways to do it. First, if you're viewing the app in the Play Store, all you have to do is tap Uninstall - the app will be removed from your device immediately.

If you're outside the Play Store, open your device's settings, then go to Apps or Application Manager (this may vary depending on your device). From there, select the app you want, and tap Uninstall.

If you change your mind later, you can always reinstall any apps you've uninstalled. Just go back to the Play Store and follow the usual steps. If you paid for the app, you won't have to pay for it again.

Doing more with the Play Store
The truth is, apps are just the beginning when it comes to the Play Store - there are many other things you can download, including movies, TV shows, books, and music. Unlike apps, these purchases aren't just for your mobile device; they can also be viewed on your computer. To learn more, check out the Google Play Help Center or the desktop version of Google Play.

 

Security and Privacy
Protecting your device
People lose their devices or experience some breach of privacy more often than you might think. Luckily, there are several things you can do to protect your phone or tablet - and, by extension, your personal information.

Some of these precautions involve enabling something on your device (for example, a screen lock that provides extra security). Others depend on your knowledge of safe browsing habits, like knowing when to avoid public Wi-Fi. It only takes a minute to review your options and prepare for any mishaps down the road.

 
Basic security tips

A few basic strategies can go a long way toward protecting your device. Here are some everyday tips to help safeguard your information and keep your device safe, secure, and healthy.

  • Update your version of Android whenever prompted. System updates often contain bug fixes and other improvements that can protect your device from the latest security threats.

  • Know how to access your security settings. Take some time to review them, and make sure you understand how they work. Everyone's security settings are different - you can usually get to them in your device's settings.

  • Be careful when downloading apps. Many apps in the Play Store are safe, but some may pose a risk to your privacy. Stick to apps you trust, and think carefully about any permissions they require. (To learn more, see the previous lesson on Downloading Apps.)
  •  
    Secure screen lock
    By default, most devices don't require a PIN or password to unlock the screen. This means anyone can access your information if you aren't careful - including your email, photos, and text messages.

    To help combat this, you can set up a secure screen lock using a feature that's already built in to your device. All you have to do is open your settings, then look for the option that says Security or Screen Lock. Your choices may vary depending on your make and model.

    The next time you turn on your device, you'll have to enter the code (or pass whatever security check you chose) in order to unlock it.

    Tracking and remote erase

    Hopefully your device is never lost or stolen. If it is, there's a feature called Android Device Manager that can help you track it down. You can even use it to erase all of your data remotely, so there's no chance of anyone accessing it.

    Android Device Manager must be set up in advance, so we highly recommend doing this now just as a precaution. To get started, open the Apps view on your device, then look for Google Settings. Next, choose Android Device Manager. You can enable or disable two options—one lets you locate your device, and the other lets you lock or erase it remotely.

    Now you can track or manage your device at google.com/android/devicemanager, the Android Device Manager website. Go ahead and test it out - you'll need to sign into your Google account first. To learn more about Android Device Manager, visit Google Support.

    Wi-Fi security
    Using Wi-Fi instead of mobile data is one of the best ways to stay connected on your device. However, your privacy and security could be at risk if you aren't careful about the networks you use. When connecting to Wi-Fi, consider these tips:
    secure wifi networks

    If you have a home Wi-Fi network, make sure it's secure (i.e., you have to enter a password to connect to it). If you don't know how to set this up, try asking a friend, relative, or even your Internet service provider for help.

    Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive tasks like online banking or shopping. Even if the network is secure, someone else on the network (for example, a patron at the same coffee shop) could gain access to your activity.
    Never connect to an unsecured network (in other words, one that doesn't require a password) - especially an unidentified hotspot in a public place. Criminals sometimes set up rogue networks with common names like "Free Wi-Fi", making it easy for them to access your information