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31 top tips for Google Android Froyo and Gingerbread

Get to grips with the latest versions of the OS

The latest versions of Google Android's mobile operating system, 'Froyo' and 'Gingerbread' both offer speed and a spiffed up user interface. We've got 31 power tips to help you get the most out of your Android smartphone.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread tips and tricks

16. Find downloads with the new Downloads Manager
Have you been wondering where all the stuff you downloaded goes? Now it's easy to find all of those files in one place. Open your apps drawer, and click Downloads.

17. Manage apps
It's easier than ever to wrangle applications. From the home screen, tap the Menu button and then Manage Apps. (Note: You will see this option only if you are using Google's default launcher.) From there you can get more information about your apps, review permissions, delete apps, force-quit them, or even transfer apps to your SD Card.

18. Quickly preview pictures in a Gallery stack
When looking at your various photo stacks in the Gallery, touch a stack with two fingers and then spread them. This action will fan out the stack like a deck of cards, and you'll see thumbnails of all of the photos in that stack flow from one finger to the other.

19. The orange bumper bar
Saw an orange glow and thought you did something wrong? Worry not. When you are scrolling through a list (such as your Gmail inbox) and you hit the bottom, you'll notice a light orange glow there. It just exists to let you know that you can't go any farther. It also does this when you're side-scrolling, or when you reach the top of a list.

20. Improved cursor control
The cursor was once one of Android's weak points, but Gingerbread just made it fantastic. When you click on text in a text-entry field, an orange arrow appears where the cursor is. You can touch the cursor and drag it to the exact spot where you want it to be.

21. Copy and paste text from a web page
Copy-and-paste from the browser has been simplified. Just long-press on a bit of text, and two handles will appear. Drag the beginning handle and the end handle so that they surround the text you want to copy, and then press within the highlighted region. To paste, go to any text-entry field, long-press, and select Paste.

22. Copy and paste text from the Gmail app
With an email message open, press the Menu key. Then tap More, Select Text. Afterward, the action operates in the same way as described above.

23. Make and receive VoIP calls
With Gingerbread, you can use your phone to place and receive Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls over Wi-Fi without using any third-party applications. You will first need to sign up for a SIP service, such as SIPgate. Once you've done that, from your home screen, press Menu, Settings, Call Settings; scroll down to Internet Call Settings, and press Add Accounts. You then must input your SIP account username, password, and server (the interface on your phone may call this info 'SIP credentials', 'SIP URI', or 'SIP ID'). You can also configure optional settings there (which you may or may not want to do, based on your SIP provider).

Now go back to the Internet Call Settings menu, and check the Receive Incoming Calls box. Your contact listings will have a SIP phone icon when you view them, regardless of how you view them. Simply touch the SIP icon next to a contact to call the person via SIP. Why do this? It could save you from going over your wireless carrier's plan minutes, or allow you to make calls using Wi-Fi when you're not near a cell tower. For more, watch this video walk-through of the SIP feature.

24. The Near Field Communication radio
What does NFC do? Well, not much...yet. At the time of this writing, software limitations will allow your phone's NFC radio to act only as a reader, not a transmitter. But since software is being developed, that situation will probably change soon, likely in an incremental Gingerbread update.

What you will be able to do, essentially, is use your phone as a high-tech credit card and make electronic payments with it. In theory, when making a purchase at a store, you would just touch your phone to the register's sensor, and a message would pop up on your phone asking if you want to authorise Vendor X for Y pounds. Currently, though, as the radio can only read, it functions about the same as a QR code does: It can get a link, some text, a phone number, and so on.

NEXT PAGE: Gingerbread keyboard tips

  1. Get to grips with the latest version of the OS
  2. Better multitasking
  3. Gingerbread tips and tricks
  4. Gingerbread keyboard tips

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