For starters: customize your Android phone’s background. Some devices will even let you add a moving, interactive image. Just hit the menu button and select the Wallpaper option. Follow the directions to select images from your phone’s camera, images loaded onto your phone, or a default wallpaper. But images are just the beginning of what you can put on your desktop. Clever programmers have created dozens of widgets that can also be moved to your home screen. Press down on an empty spot of real estate on your home screen, and that will pull up a menu to let you add everything from widgets, to program shortcuts and folders. If you can bear to part with a little over $1, Beautiful Widgets from the Marketplace is a great place to start for finding home screen add-ons.
Under the Sounds and Display menu in Settings, you'll see a lengthy list of options for personalizing your phone’s chirps and buzzes. Setting a ringtone may seem simple and obvious, but adding your own mp3s can be a bit tricky. The simplest way to do it is to use an app called RingDroid, found in the Android Marketplace. It lets you cut your mp3s down to size right from your phone and add them to your ringtone list. If you'd prefer to do it yourself, though, just add a folder on your SD card called "ringtones" and put your mp3s in it. You can do the same for alarm sounds and notifications by using folders named "alarms" and "notifications," respectively.
Some Android phones have a physical keyboard, but others don't. For some people, the touch screen keyboards that come with phones can be frustrating to use. Fortunately, the Android Marketplace offers several alternative keyboards, such as Better Keyboard ($2.99) and Swype (currently free but still in beta), which offer different features. For example, Swype is designed to improve your texting speeds.. Installing these keyboards is as simple as installing any other market app, but enabling them isn't as easy to do. You need to go into your Settings menu and first enable the new keyboard options under Language & Keyboard. Then, activate the keyboard as your preferred input method by holding down a finger (also known as a "Long Press") on an input text box.
For owners of Android phones with physical keypads, a world of convenience is open to you. A long list of built-in shortcuts lets you do everything from open your Email with Search + E, to load your web browser with Search + B. Then, there's the list of shortcuts for use inside those popular apps. You can find the full list here [link: http://android-tips.com/use-keyboard-shortcuts-to-switch-between-applications/]You can also create your own shortcut keys by going to Settings, Applications, and choosing Quick Launch for one of your favorite game, or Shazam, for example.
For those new to the Android platform, and especially those coming from the iPhone, it can be very easy to overlook the importance of the Android menu button. From within nearly every app, the menu button not only gives you access to the settings for the app, but usually brings up options essential to using the app. Even different screens in an app might have different menu options accessible with the menu button, so it's worth checking in every app you use. It can prevent a lot of frustration. The menu button can also be used to bring the phone out of the lock screen (as long as you don't the lock screen password enabled). The Facebook app, for example, requires you to use the menu button from its home screen to access its settings, while the menu button offers other options on its other screens.
You may have seen one of Verizon's "Droid Does" commercials where all of the search features are emphasized with an example search for the word "Human." The phone’s search app searches the web, Youtube, songs, and even contacts named Human (which would be weird). Now, maybe you've tried this type of search yourself, but got disappointing results. This is because you need to first configure your searchable items under Settings, Search. You'll see a huge list of options including People (contacts), Messages, Mail, Apps, Settings, Calendar, Internet, YouTube, and Music.
Just like with the Menu key, many useful features are hidden behind a long press on a particular part of the touch screen. This “long press” action isn't just for adding widgets to your home screen. You can use the long press in your web browser to save pictures and open links in new windows, for example. You can also use it for things like cut and paste, and just about every app with a selectable list will make use of the long press, such as your messages, email, and contacts apps.
One of the most convenient things about Android is its ability to multitask: you can have several apps running at a time, but switching between those apps can be a bit bothersome. Maybe you've tried fiddling with some system settings to try to get an app to work a certain way by hitting the Home key, navigating through the Settings Menu, changing the settings, hitting the Home key again, and opening your app drawer to get back to your app. This sort of situation comes up quite often, but you can cut out all of those middle steps just by holding the Home key. Holding the Home key will bring up a handy recent apps list, which makes switching between apps extremely simple.