Tutorial : Quick guide for complete beginners : Part 2

helping seniors understand AndroidIn my last tutorial, we looked at making calls from your phone and I mentioned that you can quickly call a contact already stored in your phone, so let’s look at how to add and manage contacts.

The first thing to remember is that your contacts are (usually) stored in your Google account as well rather than just on your phone – think of this as a very good thing, because it means that you can’t lose them if you should ever lose your phone. Another advantage is that keeping them stored ‘in the cloud’ means you can also access them from say, your laptop, home computer or any of your devices that you can sign into your Google account from. I mention this because if you have a home computer or laptop, this is a much quicker and easier way to enter your contacts rather than using your phone to do it!

Here’s how. Open your web browser on your PC, log into Gmail and click on the drop down that says ‘Gmail’ – it is just under the word Google on the far left of the screen. Choose ‘Contacts’ and a new screen will open that displays your Google contacts (if you have any already) and from there you can enter new ones and manage them. Andy’s tip: click on the ‘Groups’ menu item. Note that you can assign contacts to one or more groups like friends or family and also make as many new groups as you like to put contacts into. This used to be handy on our mobile devices, but for some reason Google removed the ability to display Groups on your phones with the Lollipop update. There is an app that restores a lot of the features including Groups and I will be reviewing this in my next post.

If you prefer to enter your contacts from your phone you can do this of course. Open the Contacts app (called ‘People’ on older Android versions) and just tap the ‘Add a contact’ icon at the bottom right corner of the app – it has a ‘+’ beside a person’s head. Enter all the details you want – I suggest you assign the contact to a Group too – and then save it. Remember that your new contact will be automatically synchronized into your account in the cloud so it is safely backed up for you.

Seniors often prefer to call people rather than send them a text message, but sending a brief text sometimes makes more sense and is usually cheaper too. How to do this does vary greatly from phone to phone, but the basics are common to all.

Open the messaging app on your phone. If you have already sent or received a text message you will see a list of recent messages. You can tap any of them to send another message to the contact or number in the list or you can tap the new message icon (usually a small envelope icon with a ‘+’ beside it). If you start entering the name of a person in your contacts you will see a list of people who match the partial name. Just tap the one you want to select the contact, then use the onscreen keyboard to compose the message. Once you have checked the message (with auto-correct it’s always wise to check it!) just tap the send icon which is usually an arrow beside the message area and the message will be sent.

Onscreen keyboards can be tricky for all of us to use, not just seniors, so my suggestion is to try one of the ‘swipe to write’ style keyboards. Google keyboard is a good one that I use and have reviewed here, Swype is another. I find them simpler to use myself but if they don’t suit you just take your time and try turning your phone on it’s side to make the onscreen keyboard larger.

Finally, if you receive a text message from a friend but don’t have them in your contacts it is easy to do so. Just open the message then tap your phones menu button and select ‘Add to Contacts’ or ‘Add to People’. This will open the Contacts app with the phone number already entered, fill in their name and any other details you want to then save.

If you have any questions about texting or using your phone in general just pop it into the feedback box below, either me or one of the blog readers will be happy to answer your query.


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About the Author : Andy describes himself as "an older geek" and has been assisting seniors with understanding technology for many years. He is involved with his local seniors computer club and believes that seniors appreciate assistance from those of a similar age group.

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Thanks, Andy
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