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7 Things Every Android User Should Know Get a handle on these basics and start using your devices more efficiently.

By Sarah Gilbert

This story originally appeared on Tecca


Choosing a new device like a new phone or tablet should be fun, but there's so many choices it can be hard to know where to start. If you're tempted by an Android device, or if you've just bought one and want to get the most out of it, you'll need to know more than just some of the basics to get the most out of it.

From syncing contacts to using widgets to migrating music from iTunes, here are seven basic questions and answers to help get you off on the right foot:

1. Do I need a Google account to use Android?
Yes. Just like you need an Apple ID to use an iDevice, you need a Google account to use Android. You don't have to use any of the specific Google services like Gmail on a daily basis if you don't want to, and Google lets you add other email accounts to your Android phone or tablet.

But if you really don't want a Google account, Android might not be right for you. Google's software and cloud services are integrated into the Android experience, and you'll miss out on some of the best features of Android if you don't want to use them.

Related: Smartphone 411: What's the Difference Between Android and the iPhone?

2. What's the easiest way to move all my contacts onto my phone?
You can enter them as contacts into Gmail, and they'll be automatically synced to your phone, or you can transfer saved numbers off your SIM card.

3. Why does Android look different on different devices?
Google makes the Android software and then lets hardware manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung install it on their phones and tablets. Device manufacturers usually add their own design tweaks to the standard Android operating system. These design tweaks are known as "skins," and manufacturers use them to help Android devices stand out from the competition.

4. What if I want pure Android without a skin?
If you want the pure Android experience straight from Google, then you should choose a device with "Nexus" in the title, such as the Nexus 7 tablet or the Galaxy Nexus phone. These devices always get updated to the latest version of Android first, too, because they don't use any extra tweaks from the hardware manufacturers that might hold up the upgrade process.

5. What's the difference between home screens and the app drawer?
The app drawer is where you can find all of the apps installed on your device. On Apple devices, all of your apps live on your home screens. But Android devices have up to seven home screens that you can fill with your favorite apps and widgets for quick access. Apps you don't choose to keep on your home screen will still be in your app drawer.

Related: Android OS chart: Comparing the major versions [Visual Guide]

6. What are widgets?
Useful for displaying information and saving power, widgets are a little like snapshots of apps that live on your home screens. They come in all different sizes and can display simple things like how much data you've used this month or show more complex things like your Facebook news feed.

Because they're designed for basic interactions like posting updates to Facebook or Twitter, widgets can help you save battery power because you don't need to open up the full app every time you want to make a simple update or reply to comments.

7. I have lots of music in iTunes. Can I listen to it on my Android phone?
Yes. There's a piece of software called doubleTwist that works just like iTunes, letting you install your iTunes music collection on your Android phone or tablet. If you store your music collection outside of iTunes, then the drag-and-drop method of file transfer should work just fine.

Related: Visual Guide: What Is an Android Skin?

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