Thursday, March 22, 2012

Android Fully Loaded

I never take the time to go through the owner's manual of any device I purchase before I start pushing buttons and learning about it through what often turns into a painful trial-and-error process.  I just do not have that kind of patience.  And that probably explains why I am often later drawn to much better written manuals produced by third-party writers who seem to know everything there is to know about my new toy – and exactly how to explain it to me (with color pictures).  Android Fully Loaded is one such manual that caught my eye.  Even though I have been using my Android-based cell phone for about nine months now (after switching from one of the now failed Palm phones), I learned things from Rob Huddleston about my phone and its capabilities that I probably never would have discovered on my own.

Huddleston begins with several chapters on the general layout and screens of Android smart phones.  These chapters cover subjects that all but the newest users of smart phones will already be familiar with: various screen displays, using the phone to actually call someone (imagine that), where to find new applications (both free and sold), the Google calendar, and the set-up and use of Gmail and Email (which is almost always set-up for the owner by his salesperson).

Part II of Android Fully Loaded deals in much detail with the specific areas of maps, music, shooting pictures and video, and using the web from an Android smart phone.  It was in the music chapter of the book that I had my first revelation, in fact.  Listening to music via my phone is not something that I do a lot of mainly because that process is a real battery-eater for most phones, so I was perfectly happy with what I could do with Pandora (which allows the user to create his own "radio stations") and I-Heart Radio.  Huddleston, though, introduced me to Google Music, a service through which I uploaded much of my song collection to a Google server (20,000 songs can be uploaded at no charge) for playback at my leisure anywhere I can connect to the web.

The book's final section is entitled "Working and Playing" and includes separate chapters on documents, games, cool apps, troubleshooting, and more advanced topics.  These chapters will almost certainly introduce most users to a few applications that will make them wonder how they lived without those apps for so long.  What did it for me were applications like "Where" (which uses the phone's GPS system to locate businesses and the best gas prices close to me), "Walkroid" (a pedometer that works better than some I have paid as much as $40 for), and "Zedge" (which offers countless free ringtones).

Android Fully Loaded is likely to have something helpful for all but the most sophisticated smart phone users.  Newbies will appreciate the full-color illustrations (actual screenshots from the author's own cell phone) and more intermediate users will make use of the tips, shortcuts, and new applications found in the book.  Android Fully Loaded, which also covers Android tablets, is one of the best books of its type I have seen in a while.

Rated at: 5.0

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