Congratulations on your new Android phone! If this is your first Android device and you're thinking "now what?" this guide is for you. We'll walk you through setting up and securing the phone, installing (the best) apps, and customising your home screen.
Unpack your phone: Depending on your phone and provider, you may need to remove the battery cover and insert the carrier's SIM card (a little chip that should have been included in your materials). Some phones also are packaged with a little plastic protector between the battery and the phone, which you will have to remove. Check your phone manual's first couple of pages for instructions on the physical set up.
Select your default settings and sign in with your Gmail/Google account: When you first turn on your phone, it will lead you through several screens to set some basic defaults such as language, turning on location services (many apps need this, and location data is collected anonymously, so this is OK to agree to), and finally, adding your Google account (and possibly other accounts like Facebook if you wish). If you don't already have a Google account such as a Gmail account, you can set it up on your phone here; it's needed for downloading apps, syncing contacts and calendar information, and lots of other Android-related things.
Securing Your Phone
One of the first things you should do is protect your phone in case it ever gets lost or stolen. We have a guide to securing your smartphone with more detailed information you can refer to, but basically you'll want to password protect your phone and install a remote wipe app.
Set up screen lock: Go to your home screen and click your phone's menu button to find "Settings" then go to "Security". Depending on your version of Android you can set a swipe pattern — slide your finger across the dots in a shape that you will remember — or a standard PIN or password. Your phone will lock after a certain period of inactivity and to get into the phone, a user will need to either do that same pattern or enter the correct password or PIN.
Mobile security app: You should also install software for protecting against malware and remote wipe, which will delete data from your phone in case someone else gets it. In the next section we'll show you how to download and install an app, a small piece of software for your phone.
Open the Market app: To grab your first Android app from the Android Market, look for the shopping bag icon with the Android mascot on it on your home screen. If it's not there, you'll find it in your applications list. Opening the applications list varies by phone — on some, there's an Applications icon (which looks like a checkerboard) at the bottom of the home screen, on others, you'll tap a large icon at the bottom of the home screen to open up the list.
Search or browse for an app: Once you get to the Market, you can either browse the categories to find an app or if you know the name of an app you want to install, tap the magnifying glass button at the top right. Then tap the text input box and type in the name of the app.
For that recommended mobile security app, look for Anti-Virus Free from AVG, an app that not only helps you locate your lost phone and remotely wipe the data, but also scans for malware and can protect from phishing and malware when browsing the web. Lookout Free is a similar app that's really highly regarded; to get advanced features like remote wipe, you'll need to buy the Premium version, however, for $US29.99 per year.
Whichever you choose, tap the app name from the search results, then the button to install it. Your phone will begin to download the app and you'll get a message in the notification bar at the top of your screen that the app was installed. Drag that bar down to see the message about the downloaded app, tap on it, and the app will open so you can set it up.
Check out additional useful Android apps: Next up, consult our Lifehacker Pack for Android, our list of the best Android Apps. Clicking on one of these will take you to the Android Market. If you're browsing from your laptop or desktop computer, here's another neat thing about Android: you can install an app on your phone using the browser on your computer. Log in to Android Market using your Google account and authorise your phone to install apps wirelessly to get this set up. Then just hit the install button from the Market on any app you want to send to your phone.
Customising the Home Screen
Another thing many people want to do is customise the apps that are on screen, for easy access. In addition to the home screen, you can add apps to access several other screens on your phone; view them by swiping left or right.
To place an app on the screen, from the Applications list, tap and hold down on the app's icon, then drag it to where you want to put it.
If you want to remove an app or widget like that default giant clock, tap and hold down on it, then drag it to the bottom of the screen and into the trash can you'll see there.
You can also organize apps on your screen in folders: tap anywhere on an empty space on your screen and hold down for a second or two, then select Folders > New Folder. Tap on the new folder to open it and drag apps in. To rename the folder, hold down the name of the folder in the title bar and then type in a new name.
As you can tell by now, most menus and operations are accessible to you on Android by tapping and holding down.
Adding Quick Contacts to Your Home Screen
One more thing you might want to do, for convenience, is add a contact to your home screen so all you have to do to quickly call or text message that person is click on the icon. To do this: tap and hold down an empty space on the screen and in the "Add to Home Screen" menu, select "Shortcuts". Under the new menu, select Contact (or Person) and then you can choose which contact to add to the screen.
You may notice there are lots of other useful shortcuts here you might want to add to one of your screens, such as bookmarks and directions or maps. Play around or check out our guide to organising your Android home screen for more enhancements and organisation ideas.
Finally, much fun and goodness awaits you with your new Android phone. See the awesome stuff you can do with Android in our more advanced Android set up guide. Enjoy!