What I learned from reading the Android user manual

I love my Nexus One Android phone and, in general, I've found the user interface to be very intuitive. However, I recently discovered that there's a 340-page user manual for Android. I decided to read the whole damn thing and find out if there were any great hard-to-find features or tricks in there. I learned a bunch of stuff that probably should have been obvious but I also made some nice discoveries.

It's easier to use the trackball to position the text cursor and select text.

I had been trying to use my finger on the screen to position the text cursor, that usually required extreme accuracy and multiple tries. The manual points out that the trackball is much better for this.

International dialing: touch and hold 0 to enter a "+".

I'm probably the only idiot who didn't know this.

That scroll icon on the bottom left corner of the Phone app is the access voicemail button.

Again, this is probably a universal symbol that only I hadn't figured out.

Touch a contact's picture to bring up the quick contact menu.

Wherever you see a contact's picture or icon, such as a shortcut on your home screen or in the contacts list itself, you can touch it to bring up a neat quick contact menu with icons for each contact method for that person.

Compass Mode in Street View is really cool.

This seems like a pretty buried feature to me so here's how to get to it. Open Maps, then long-touch a point on the map you are interested in. A balloon will appear with the address and place name. If Street View is available at that location, there will be a photo thumbnail next to the address. Now touch the balloon to open an info screen for the location. On that screen you'll see a Street View icon which you can touch to open Street View. Just this much was new to me, I hadn't realized you could access Street View from Maps. It get's cooler though, touch menu and select Compass Mode. Now you can tilt, pan, or turn your phone to look around.

This doesn't seem terribly useful to me but it's kind of a neat effect.

In album view, touch Menu twice to enter batch mode.

I never would have figured this out on my own. Very useful for photo management.

Hello, augmented reality.

I haven't seen this work yet but the manual claims that Goggles will display nearby locations once it has a GPS lock.

The rest are self-explanatory:

  • In Music Playback, touch and hold track information to search for it with various apps.
  • In Weather, touch the screen for details and then touch the hour of the day for the forecast for that time.
  • Drag the Calculator screen right to left to access advanced functions.
  • In Calculator, roll the trackball down to access previous operations.