Google Android Power Tips: Master Froyo and Gingerbread

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20. Improved cursor control: The cursor was once one of Android's weak points, but Gingerbread just made it fantastic. When you click on text in a text-entry field, an orange arrow appears where the cursor is. You can touch the cursor and drag it to the exact spot where you want it to be.

21. Copy and paste text from a Web page: Copy-and-paste from the browser has been simplified. Just long-press on a bit of text, and two handles will appear. Drag the beginning handle and the end handle so that they surround the text you want to copy, and then press within the highlighted region. To paste, go to any text-entry field, long-press, and select Paste.

22. Copy and paste text from the Gmail app: With an e-mail message open, press the Menu key. Then tap More, Select Text. Afterward, the action operates in the same way as described above.

23. Make and receive VoIP calls: With Gingerbread, you can use your phone to place and receive Voice over Internet Protocol calls over Wi-Fi without using any third-party applications. You will first need to sign up for a SIP service, such as SIPgate. Once you've done that, from your home screen, press Menu, Settings, Call Settings; scroll down to Internet Call Settings, and press Add Accounts. You then must input your SIP account username, password, and server (the interface on your phone may call this info 'SIP credentials', 'SIP URI', or 'SIP ID'). You can also configure optional settings there (which you may or may not want to do, based on your SIP provider).

Now go back to the Internet Call Settings menu, and check the Receive Incoming Calls box. Your contact listings will have a SIP phone icon when you view them, regardless of how you view them. Simply touch the SIP icon next to a contact to call the person via SIP. Why do this? It could save you from going over your wireless carrier's plan minutes, or allow you to make calls using Wi-Fi when you're not near a cell tower. For more, watch this video walk-through of the SIP feature.

24. The Near Field Communication radio: What does NFC do? Well, not much...yet. At the time of this writing, software limitations will allow your phone’s NFC radio to act only as a reader, not a transmitter. But since software is being developed, that situation will probably change soon, likely in an incremental Gingerbread update. What you will be able to do, essentially, is use your phone as a high-tech credit card and make electronic payments with it. In theory, when making a purchase at a store, you would just touch your phone to the register’s sensor, and a message would pop up on your phone asking if you want to authorize Vendor X for Y dollars. Currently, though, as the radio can only read, it functions about the same as a QR code reader does: It can get a link, some text, a phone number, and so on.

Gingerbread Keyboard Tips

Now it's easy to drag the cursor to the right spot.
Android's stock keyboard has undergone a major overhaul in Gingerbread, and it's not merely a face-lift. You will notice that it's faster and more accurate, and that it supports multitouch gestures. Here are other key differences.

25. Autocomplete and the spacebar: While you're typing, when autocomplete has a suggestion ready, the spacebar will light up orange. At that point, pressing the spacebar will choose the highlighted word in the autocomplete bar. Also note that the autocomplete bar is scrollable: If you don't see the suggestion you want at first, swipe to the left on the autocomplete bar. You'll often find three bars' worth of suggestions.

26. Capitalizing a word: This is where multitouch comes in. To capitalize a word, you no longer have to press Shift (which turns the entire keyboard into caps) and then select--you can now press Shift and the letter you wish to capitalize at the same time (as you would on a desktop keyboard).

Gingerbread offers improved copy/paste controls in the browser and Gmail.
27. Quick replace: Made a mistake? You can tap on any previously typed word, and the autocomplete bar again repopulates with all of its suggestions for what that word should be. If you see the word you want, simply tap it, and it will replace the incorrect word.

28. Add a word to the dictionary: When you key in a word that the dictionary doesn't yet know, touch it in the autocomplete row to put it into the text field. The autocomplete row will then say, 'Touch again to save'. Touch to add it to the dictionary.

Access Punctuation, Numbers, and Special Characters.

In Gingerbread, you can add words easily to the dictionary.

29. Any key: Press and hold any key, and if it has a number or a special symbol behind it, those options will pop up in a row above it. For example, hold down the R key, and you get the number 4. Hold down the E key, and you get access to 3, é, è, ê, and ë.

30. Period key: Press and hold the "." key (the period key) for instant access to some of the most commonly used punctuation.

31. Autocomplete: After you've pressed the spacebar and are in between words, the autocomplete bar populates with the most frequently used punctuation. Again, this bar is scrollable, giving you three rows of options.

Hungry for Froyo and Gingerbread

At the time of this writing, roughly 52 percent of Android phones have Froyo and the rest are waiting to get it, as a full 35 percent are still stuck on Eclair, version 2.1.

More options pop up when you long-press a key in the Gingerbread keyboard.
Even fewer Android phones have Gingerbread--just 0.4 percent at the time of this story, which makes sense considering that only the Nexus S handset runs it right now.

It's a shame that the hardware manufacturers and the carriers take so long to roll out updates, because each has been a major leap for the Android OS, with greatly improved speed, stability, battery life, and functionality.

For a more general introduction to Android tips and tricks for version 2.0 or later (most of which still apply), see "Master Google Android: 40 Tips and Tricks."

Do you have a great Froyo or Gingerbread tip that we missed? Please share in the comments section below.

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At a Glance
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