Android 4.0: The Ultimate Guide (Plus Cheat Sheet)
Apps in Android 4.0
If the home screen is the heart of Android, the apps are the blood that pump through its veins. Much of the Android experience revolves around applications, whether they're basic system apps like the Phone and Browser apps or third-party apps like Dropbox, Flipboard and Google Reader.
If you've used an earlier version of Android, you'll find that installing apps works the same way in ICS, so you can skip directly to "Accessing and organizing apps" below.
Finding and installing apps
Android allows you to install apps from any source you wish. That said, most people use the Google Play Store to get new applications; it's the official Android market for apps ( formerly known as the Android Market, fittingly enough) and the simplest and most direct way to get new programs onto your phone.
You can access the Google Play Store directly from your phone, via the Play Store icon (it looks like a shopping bag); you can also access it online from any PC by going to play.google.com. Whichever interface you use, just follow the tab for Android apps to browse through categories of popular and recommended applications. You can also use the Play Store's search function if you're looking for a particular title or type of application.
When you find an app you want, touch the Download or Install button to put it onto your phone. If you're using the Play Store website, the app will be sent wirelessly to your device. If you have multiple Android devices connected to your Google account -- a phone and a tablet, for example -- the website will prompt you to select the device you want to use via a drop-down menu.
If you see a price in place of the Download or Install button, that means the app isn't free; tap the button with the price if you want to buy it, and the cost will be charged to whatever credit card you have connected to your Google account. (The Play Store prompts you to set up a payment method the first time you connect or attempt to purchase an application.)
Accessing and organizing apps
You can always access all of your applications by tapping your phone's Apps icon -- the circled cluster of dots located in your Favorites tray at the bottom-center of your home screen.
This opens up your All Apps area, commonly called the app drawer, which contains a complete list of apps installed on your phone; swipe left or right to scroll through the list, and touch any app to open it.
If you want easy access to an app, you can add it as a shortcut on your home screen. Just press and hold the icon in your app drawer, then use your finger to drag it around until it's in a place you like. You can move the shortcut between home screen panels by sliding your finger to the very left- or rightmost edge of the current panel -- and if you decide you want to move a shortcut somewhere else later, all you have to do is press and hold the icon on your home screen to pick it up and relocate it. To remove a shortcut from your home screen, press and hold it, then drag it to the Remove icon that appears at the top of the scren.
Want to completely uninstall an app from your phone? Easy: All you have to do is press and hold it in the app drawer, then drag it to the Uninstall icon that shows up at the top of the screen. You'll also see an App Info icon; dragging the app there will allow you to view detailed info about the program's usage and permissions as well as clear its cache or data storage.
Android 4.0 makes it easy for you to create folders on your home screen that contain apps, in case you want to group similar items together to save on space or make things more tidy. While previous versions of Android had folders, they're easier to manage in 4.0, and their appearance has a sleek new look as well.
To create a folder in ICS, all you do is drop one icon on top of another on your home screen. You can add more items into the folder the same way.
Once a folder's been created, you can tap the folder to open it and show all the apps within; you can remove any item from the folder by touching it and dragging it out. You can name the folder, too: Just touch your finger to the text that says "Unnamed Folder" and type in any name you want.
Finally, you can place any items you want in the Favorites tray below the home-screen panels so they'll always be handy: Just touch and hold any icon that's already in the tray to move it out, and touch and drag any other icon in to replace it. You can even create folders within the tray, if you're so inclined.
For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.