Integration with Google Mail, the ability to accommodate third-party software and a finger-friendly interface all help explain why Google Android has quickly become an immensely popular mobile operating system. We demonstrate how to set up email and organise files using the platform.

Integration with Google Mail, the ability to accommodate third-party software and a finger-friendly interface all help explain why Google Android has quickly become an immensely popular mobile operating system.

Of course, it helps that Android handsets tend to offer Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS as standard, and that a range of designs are available at various price points. Some Android handsets push the boundaries at the very highest end of the smartphone spectrum, while others are pitched to compete with lower-cost feature phones – and there are plenty of examples in between.

Android has a great range of onboard features, but it can also be ‘skinned’. In other words, it lends itself to customisation and can be augmented with a bespoke interface. In fact, nearly all Google Android handsets have some sort of customised look or features.

We used a Motorola XT720 for the following workshop. While it offers high-end features such as an 8Mp camera, the Motorola runs an unskinned version of Android 2.1. You may see slightly different results and be offered additional options on your own handset.

‘Scenes’ aren’t unique to Android, but we think they offer a prime example of how manufacturers can add value to their handsets. HTC, in particular, employs Scenes on many of its smartphones, allowing it to create sets of home screens with their own widgets and wallpapers for use in different situations.

You could set up Scenes for work, leisure, business trips, holidays and so on, putting the applications and widgets you’re likely to need in a given situation to hand.

Whatever a manufacturer has done to differentiate its smartphone from the rest, every handset can accommodate applications found in the Android Market. We found plenty of apps there to help us increase our productivity, and we’ll share our finds with you over the following pages.

Step 1. Your Android handset can incorporate contacts and contact data from a range of different sources. When you first used your handset, it will have imported your contacts from Gmail. If you also want to import contact information from your SIM, open the Contacts app, press the Menu button and choose Import/Export, ‘Import from SIM card’.

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Step 2. HTC Sync lets you synchronise the Outlook contact and calendar information stored on your PC with your phone. Install and launch the application. Choose Sync Manager, Settings, then work your way through the menu on the lefthand side of the screen.

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Integration with Google Mail, the ability to accommodate third-party software and a finger-friendly interface all help explain why Google Android has quickly become an immensely popular mobile operating system. We demonstrate how to set up email and organise files using the platform.

Step 3. One setting, in particular, is very important: it concerns what HTC Sync should do when the information stored on both PC and phone has been updated since the last sync. Be careful to choose the correct setting here to ensure that the most up-to-date information is retained following the next sync.

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Step 4. Having checked that all the settings meet your requirements, click ‘Synchronise now’. This process can take a little while to complete on the first run, since HTC Sync needs to copy across all the data from PC to phone; subsequent syncs will be faster, with the software looking only for changes made since the last sync.

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Step 5. Since a Gmail account is required on an Android device, you’ll have configured your Android handset to pick up email from your Gmail account already. But it can also cope with other POP and Imap email addresses. To add a new email account, open the Email app and click Menu, Add Account. Enter your email address and password, then tell Android the type of email account you hold.

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Step 6. Add the required information as prompted. You’ll need to know the POP3 and SMTP server information, which is available from your ISP. Before moving on to each new settings screen, Android will verify the information you have given it and warn you of any errors.

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Integration with Google Mail, the ability to accommodate third-party software and a finger-friendly interface all help explain why Google Android has quickly become an immensely popular mobile operating system. We demonstrate how to set up email and organise files using the platform.

Step 7. Set the frequency that the email service should check for new messages and other handset notifications. Also give your account a name. Note that the account name you choose here will be what appears on outgoing mail.

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Step 8. If you set up more than one email account, you can choose to view mail from each separately or in a single inbox. Press the Email icon, then choose either the combined inbox or select the inbox you want to view.

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Step 9. A number of settings govern how each email account functions. Open an email account, hit the Menu button and choose Account Settings. You can alter a host of settings here, including the download frequency, how you are notified of new email messages and the account name. You can also select one account as the default – this will automatically be selected when you compose a new email message.

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Step 10. You’re likely to want to download and read any attachments that come with your email. Android doesn’t come with the type of file manager you’re accustomed to on your PC, but it’s easy to add one as an application. We like OI File Manager, which is a free download from the Android Market.

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Integration with Google Mail, the ability to accommodate third-party software and a finger-friendly interface all help explain why Google Android has quickly become an immensely popular mobile operating system. We demonstrate how to set up email and organise files using the platform.

Step 11. Download and install OI File Manager. The application can browse the contents of your handset and any media cards being used. If you can see a Home icon at the top of the folder list and an SD Card icon beneath it, you are currently looking at the device memory. Tap the SD Card icon to browse the contents of your media card, and the Home icon to return to the phone’s internal memory.

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Step 12. OI File Manager also lets you create new folders (or rename existing ones), then move files across as required. To create a new folder on the media card, tap the SD Card icon, then tap the Menu button and choose New Folder. Give the folder an appropriate name.

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Step 13. To copy, move, rename or delete a file you need only find it and then hold a finger down on it. You’ll see different options depending on the file type. Choose Send to transfer the file to another device using Bluetooth or email.

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Step 14. Renaming files is a useful practice for organisation purposes, but be careful not to edit the file extension – it may become unreadable. Hold a finger down on a file and choose Rename, and a simple box in which you can enter the new name will appear.

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