Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)
Part III. Live on the Internet: Going Mobile
Chapter 8. Playing in Google’s Play Store
IN THIS CHAPTER
Getting to know Play Store
Finding Play Store on your phone
Seeing what Play Store has to offer
Downloading and installing Facebook for Android
Rating and uninstalling apps
One of the things that makes smartphones (such as the phones based on the Google Android platform) different from regular mobile phones is that you can download better apps than what comes standard on the phone. Most traditional cellphones come with a few simple games and basic apps. Smartphones usually come with better games and apps. For example, on your Galaxy S7 phone, you get a more sophisticated Contact Manager, an app that can play digital music (MP3s), basic maps, and texting tools.
To boot, you can download even better apps and games for phones based on the Google Android platform. Many apps are available for your Galaxy S7 phone, and that number will only grow over time.
So where do you get all these wonderful apps? The main place to get Android apps is the Google Play Store. You might be happy with the apps that came with your phone, but look into the Play Store and you’ll find apps you never knew you needed and suddenly won’t be able to live without.
In this chapter, I introduce you to the Google Play Store and give you a taste of what you find there.
Exploring the Play Store: The Mall for Your Phone
The Play Store is set up and run by Google, mainly for people with Android phones. Adding an app to your phone is similar to adding software to your PC. In both cases, a new app (or software) makes you more productive, adds to your convenience, and/or entertains you for hours on end — sometimes for free. Not a bad deal.
There are some important differences, however, between installing software on a PC and getting an app on a cellphone:
· Smartphone apps need to be more stable than computer software because of their greater potential for harm. If you buy an app for your PC and find that it’s unstable (for example, it causes your PC to crash), sure, you’ll be upset. If you were to buy an unstable app for your phone, though, you could run up a huge phone bill or even take down the regional cellphone network. Can you hear me now?
· There are multiple smartphone platforms. These days, it’s pretty safe to assume that computer software will run on a PC or a Mac or both. On the other hand, because of the various smartphone platforms out there, different versions within a given platform aren’t always compatible. The Play Store ensures that the app you’re buying will work with your version of phone.
Getting to the Store
You can access the Play Store through your Galaxy S7 phone’s Play Store app or through the Internet. The easiest way to access the Play Store is through the Play Store app on your Galaxy S7 phone. The icon is shown in Figure 8-1.
FIGURE 8-1: The Play Store icon.
If the Play Store app isn’t already on your Home screen, you can find it in your Apps list. To open it, simply tap the icon.
When you tap the Play Store icon, you’re greeted by the screen looking something like what is shown in Figure 8-2.
FIGURE 8-2: The Play Store home page.
As new apps become available, the highlighted apps will change, and the Home page will change from one day to the next.
In addition, the good folks at Google spend a lot of time thinking about what is the best way to help the hundreds of millions of Android users find the best application from the selection of 1.8 million apps.
This is no small task. Some of those users are very experienced and know just what they want. Others are walking in the door for the first time while still others are just coming to browse and see whether anything strikes their fancy.
The goal for Google is to make every user who comes in find what they want. The goal in this book is to give you enough information so that you can be comfortable downloading your first app and then comfortable finding other interesting apps as you become more familiar with the layout.
Seeing What’s Available: Shopping for Android Apps
The panorama that exists for the Google Play home page seen in Figure 8-2 of is very extensive. You can swipe to the right a long way and you can swipe down dozens of levels. Take a look at the structure of Figure 8-2.
Do not be surprised if you open up the Play Store home page one day and find that it has a completely different layout. Google tries different formats from time to time to solve one problem or another and keep things fresh. The chances are good that the lower level categories are still there, and you can find what you are looking for, even if the structure described in this chapter is no longer exactly accurate.
Figure 8-2 shows three levels of categories. The Top Level categories are
· Apps & Games: Apps and Games are files you download where you are an active participant in their use. These files can be for productivity, information, social connection, or enjoyment.
· Entertainment: Rather than having the concept of using, this group involves downloading files that entertain or educate you as a passive recipient, such as digital books, magazines, and movies.
This distinction may seem a little theoretical at this point, but hang in there. An example may help things become clearer.
Say that you want to listen to The Beatle’s White Album later today on the bus home. You can buy the album in the Entertainment area of the Play Store. When you are on the bus, you could use the Play Music app that came with your phone to bring up and play the White Album.
Say that the app Play Music does not do it for you. You can download 103 free music apps and pay for another 132 that allow you to listen to music. You may ask, “Why you would pay for something that you already have for free?” Good question.
Some music apps have a more sophisticated filing system for your music, which is handy if you have a large music library. Others give you an equalizer that increases the bass notes. Another one gives you exciting visuals on the screen that corresponds with the music. Beside, these cost only a dollar or two. There are no judgments here. Buy and use what you like.
Getting back to the original point, you buy the music player app in the Apps and Games Section to play the music and the music file for the White Album in Entertainment, which is essentially unchanged since 1968.
Subcategories for Apps and Games
Once you have decided that you want to look at Apps and Games, you see the following options when you tap the link:
· Top Charts: These are the best-selling apps. This is often a good indication that you may want to give it a try.
· Games: These are all the types and flavors of games that can run on your phone, from simple kids games, exotic multiplayer games with alternative realities, and every kind of challenge in between.
· Categories: This option takes you to a hierarchy of application types that is useful if you already know what you want to add. There is more on these different categories later in this chapter.
· Family: If you’re looking for apps suitable for the kids, you can go here.
· Editors’ Choice: While relying on sales volumes in Top Charts is one way to find apps you may find valuable, this section is curated, hopefully with people who think like you.
Subcategories for Entertainment
There are lots and lots of options for entertainment in this section. They are categorized as follows:
· Movies and TV: As with music, you can download multimedia files and view your favorite movies and TV shows. You can watch these on your Galaxy S7’s screen. More on this in Chapter 12.
· Music: You can buy your digital music at the Play Store. I talk more about buying music in Chapter 12.
· Books: Have you been thinking about getting an e-reader, such as an Amazon Kindle? Before you spend your hard-earned cash on one of these e-readers, take a look at the book library here and see whether you like reading on your phone! If you like the way the Kindle works, both are available as apps you can download and use to access your account on Amazon.com.
· Newsstand: Same idea as with books, only this category is for periodicals.
Below the subcategories are rows of curated categories. These are apps grouped by some expert to present you options in a logical sequence. Figure 8-2 shows New + Updated Games. When you scroll down, you’ll find dozens of rows, which include such categories as Must-Have Tools, Lifestyle Apps, and Shopping Apps.
If you find a row that you like, you can start scrolling to the right to see the options within that curated category. Hopefully, the curator thinks like you do and can offer you lots of suggestions. This is particularly handy if you’re not sure what you want.
The timeless categories for Apps and Games
Google is doing its best to get you to find the best app for you among its inventory of hundreds of thousands of choices. Today’s version of the Play Store has a link called Categories where you can start digging by app or game type. While the names of these categories evolve slightly over time, the following are descriptions that should help you navigate this particular area:
· Games: Your Galaxy S7 phone takes interactive gaming to a new level. Games in this section of the Play Store fall into the following categories:
· Arcade and Action: Think of games that are based on what you find in arcades: shooting games, racing games, and other games of skill and/or strategy.
· Brain and Puzzle: Think crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other word or number games.
· Cards and Casino: Find an electronic version of virtually every card or casino game. (If you know of any game that’s missing, let me know so that I can write the app and sell it to the three people who play it.)
· Casual: This crossover category includes simpler games, some of which are also arcade, action, or cards, but are distinguished by the ease with which you can pick them up, play them, and then put them down. Solitaire may be the most widespread example of a casual game.
· Apps: The non-games fall into many subcategories:
· Comics: These apps are meant to be funny. Hopefully, you find something that tickles your funnybone.
· Communication: Yes, the Galaxy S7 phone comes with many communications apps, but these Play Store apps enhance what comes with the phone — for example, tools that automatically send a message if you’re running late to a meeting or text you if your kids leave a defined area.
· Entertainment: Not games per se, but these apps are still fun: trivia, horoscopes, and frivolous noisemaking apps. (These also include Chuck Norris facts. Did you know that Chuck Norris can divide by 0?)
· Finance: This is the place to find mobile banking apps and tools to make managing your personal finances easier.
· Health: This is a category for all apps related to mobile medical apps, including calorie counters, fitness tracking, and tools to help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
· Lifestyle: This category is a catchall for apps that involve recreation or special interests, like philately or bird-watching.
· Maps & Search: Many apps tell you where you are and how to get to where you want to go. Some are updated with current conditions, and others are based on static maps that use typical travel times.
· Multimedia: The Galaxy S7 phone comes with the music and video services, but nothing says you have to like them. You might prefer offerings that are set up differently or have a selection of music that isn’t available elsewhere.
· News & Weather: You’ll find a variety of apps that allow you to drill down till you get just the news or weather that’s more relevant to you than what’s available on your extended Home screen.
· Productivity: These apps are for money management (such as a tip calculator), voice recording (such as a stand-alone voice recorder), and time management (for example, an electronic to-do list).
· Reference: These apps include a range of reference books, such as dictionaries and translation guides. Think of this section as similar to the reference section of your local library and bookstore.
· Shopping: These apps help you with rapid access to mobile shopping sites or do automated comparison shopping.
· Social: These are the social networking sites. If you think you know them all, check here just to be sure. Of course, you’ll find Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, but you’ll also find dozens of other sites that are more narrowly focused and offer apps for the convenience of their users.
· Software Libraries: Computers of all sizes come with software libraries to take care of special functions, such as tools to manage ringtones, track app performance, and protect against malware.
· Sports: You can find sports sites to tell you the latest scores and analyses in this part of the Play Store.
· Themes: Your phone comes with color schemes or themes. This part of the Play Store offers a broader selection.
· Tools: Some of these are widgets that help you with some fun capabilities. Others are more complicated and help you get more functionality from your phone.
· Travel: These apps are useful for traveling, including handy items, such as currency translations and travel guides.
Many of your favorite websites are now offering apps that are purpose-built for your phone. Chapter 7 talks about how you can access websites on your phone. You can use the full site with your high-resolution screen or use the mobile version. A third alternative can be an app that makes the information you want from your phone even easier to access.
Each app category comes with the apps divided into the following categories:
· Top Free: All apps in the Top Free category are available at no charge.
· Top New Free: This option gets you out in front of the curve to find the best new free apps before the unwashed masses find them.
· Top Paid: All apps in this category charge a fee.
· Top Grossing: These apps are both popular and cost money. This is often a good indication that the app is really good, or at least that it has a crack marketing team. (If the app is not good, the customer comments will show that right away.)
· Top New Paid: All apps in this category charge a fee and are also new.
· Trending: Our friends at Google show the apps that are catching on. It’s worth considering the apps that reside in this category.
· Featured: These apps are relatively new and might or might not charge you to download and use them.
In general, you’ll probably want to see what you get with a free app before you spend money on the commercial equivalent. Many software companies know this and offer a lower-feature version for free and an enhanced version for a charge. Enjoy the free-market mechanisms on this site and never feel regret for enjoying a free app.
Free apps are great. But don’t be afraid of buying any apps that you’re going to use frequently. Apps usually cost very little, and the extra features may be worth it. Some people (including me) have an irrational resistance to paying $1.99 monthly for something they use all the time. Frankly, this is a little silly. Let’s all be rational and be willing to pay a little bit for the services we use.
Installing and Managing an Android App
To make the process of finding and downloading an app less abstract, I show you how to download and install one in particular as an example: the Facebook for Android app.
Downloading the Facebook app
Follow these steps to add this app:
1. Tap the Play Store icon.
2. In the Query box, type Facebook.
Doing so brings up a drop-down screen like the one shown in Figure 8-3.
As you can see in the search results, several options include the word Facebook. The other lines in the Apps section are for apps that include the word Facebook. These are typically for apps that enhance Facebook in their own ways — as of this moment, 112,160 of them. Rather than go through these one by one, stick with the one with the Facebook icon.
3. Tap the anywhere in the box with the Facebook logo.
When you tap the box, it brings up the screen shown in Figure 8-4.
Before continuing to the next step, I want to point out some important elements on this page:
· Title Line: The top section has the formal name of the app just above the green Install button. After you click this to download and install the app, you see some other options. I give some examples later in this chapter.
· Description: This tells you what the app does.
· What’s New: This information is important if you have a previous version of this app. Skip this section for now.
· Screen Captures: These representative screens are a little too small to read, but they do add some nice color to the page.
· Feedback Statistics: This particular app has about 4.0 stars out of 5. That’s not bad at all. The other numbers tell you how many folks have voted, how many have downloaded this app, the date it was released, and the size of the app in MB.
· All Reviews: This section gets into more details about what people thought of the app beyond the star ranking.
· More by Facebook: The app developer in this case is Facebook. If you like the style of a particular developer, this section tells you what other apps that developer offers.
· Similar Apps: Just in case you are not sure about this, the good folks at Google offer some alternatives.
· Users Also Installed: Play Store tells you the names of other apps downloaded by the customers who downloaded this app. It’s a good indicator of what else you may like.
· Developer: This section gives you contact information for the developer of this app.
· Google Play Content: This is how you tell the Play Store whether this app is naughty or nice.
4. Tap the dark green button that says Install.
You see the progress of the app downloading process. When the app is all there, it begins the installation process.
At some point in the process, most apps give you a pop-up to let you know what information from your phone that the app will use. This is to give you an idea on how this particular app may affect your privacy.
Facebook is a special case when it comes to permissions. It touches practically every capability on your phone. Its extensive permission screen is seen in Figure 8-5.
Most apps are not as intimately connected to your life. These involve far fewer permissions. Some involve only one. For example, Figure 8-6 shows the permissions pop-up for the WeatherBug app. As the name implies, WeatherBug tells you of weather conditions and forecasts. It works best when it knows where you are.
Chapter 1 discusses the option to prevent an app from having access to your location information. I mention that you can allow apps to know where you are on a case-by-case basis. Here is where that issue comes up. Each app asks you for permission to access information, such as your location. If you don’t want the app to use that information or share it somehow, here’s where you find out whether the app uses this information. You may be able to limit the amount of location information. If you’re not comfortable with that, you should decline the app in its entirety.
However, in the case of WeatherBug, you can manually enter the location for which you want whether status and forecasts. Each app will let you know what it uses. It is your choice whether you Allow or Deny access.
This is similar to the license agreements you sign when installing software on your PC. Hopefully, you read them all in detail and understand all the implications. In practice, you hope that it’s not a problem if lots of other people have accepted these conditions. In the case of a well-known app like Facebook, you’re probably safe, but you should be careful with less-popular apps.
After the app downloads and installs, you will come back to a screen like the one in Figure 8-7.
5. Tap the dark green Open button.
This brings up the Home screen for Facebook, as shown in Figure 8-8.
If you have a Facebook account already, go ahead and enter your information. Things will look very familiar. If you don’t have a Facebook account, and you want to add one now, go on to the next section.
In any case, the Facebook icon appears on your Apps screen along with some other recently added apps, such as Angry Birds and Solitaire. This is seen in Figure 8-9.
If you want this app to be on your Home screen, press and hold the icon. The Facebook icon appears on your Home screen.
FIGURE 8-3: The Facebook Search results.
FIGURE 8-4: The Facebook app screen in panorama.
FIGURE 8-5: The Facebook permissions screen.
FIGURE 8-6: The WeatherBug permissions pop-up.
FIGURE 8-7: The Play Store app screen for a successfully downloaded app.
FIGURE 8-8: The Facebook login screen.
FIGURE 8-9: The Facebook icon on the Apps screen.
Creating a Facebook account
If you don’t already have a Facebook account, you can create an account here. Toward the bottom of the screen is the option to sign up for Facebook. Tap the Sign Up for Facebook link, and you see the screen shown in Figure 8-10.
FIGURE 8-10: The Sign Up for Facebook Home screen.
To sign up for Facebook, you should have the following information:
· Name: This would seem to be simple question. However, you should consider adding former names and/or nicknames. This all depends upon whether you want to be found by old friends or not.
· Mobile number: Your mobile telephone number will auto-populate for this question. You may want to use another number. Your choice.
· Your birthday: Go ahead. Tell the truth on this one.
· Your password: Pick one that you can remember.
· Your gender: I am not sure why Facebook needs to know this, but pick one gender.
After you enter this information, Facebook sends a verification message. If you provide an email address, the app sends you an email. If you use your mobile phone number, it sends you a text.
The email or text contains a code. Enter this code, and your Facebook account is validated. To get the most out of Facebook, I recommend checking out Facebook For Dummies, 5th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) by Carolyn Abram.
Within the Facebook app itself, you see the latest posts from your friends in an instant. You get your daily serving of cute kitten images, stories from proud parents about their children, and messages from old flames wondering about what might have been.
Rating or Uninstalling Your Apps
Providing feedback to an app is an important part of maintaining the strength of the Android community. It’s your responsibility to rate apps honestly. (Or you can blow it off and just take advantage of the work others have put into the rating system. It’s your choice.)
If you want to make your voice heard about an app, here are the steps:
1. Open the Play Store.
Refer to Figure 8-2 to see the layout.
2. Tap the Menu button (the three parallel lines in the Google Play banner).
Doing so brings up a drop-down menu like the one shown in Figure 8-11.
3. Tap the link that says My apps & games.
This tap brings up the screen shown in Figure 8-12, which lists all the apps on your phone. Keep on scrolling down. You’ll eventually see them all.
FIGURE 8-11: The menu from the Play Store.
FIGURE 8-12: My apps & games screen in panorama.
Tapping on one of these apps is how you rate them or uninstall them, as shown in Figure 8-13.
FIGURE 8-13: The Apps page for Facebook after it is installed.
If you love the app, rate it highly on a five star scale. To be clear, to rank it as one star, tap the leftmost star. To rank it highly with five stars, tap the rightmost star.
Whatever number of stars you pick will bring up a pop-up with those number of stars, as shown in Figure 8-14. You can then tell all the world just what you think of the app.
FIGURE 8-14: The Rating pop-up.
While many app developers read the comments, it takes longer for some. I am still waiting to hear back from my comments. Please note that seeking bribes to provide positive reviews is entirely my idea, and you should probably not copy this approach. I will sue if you do.
On the other hand, if you hate the app, give it one star and blast away. It does not happen often, but there are some major league loser apps out there. In most cases, it occurs when you have an older phone, and the apps you have assume some capabilities that are not there.
This will not happen for a long, long time with the Galaxy S7, but technology does march on. Someday in the future, your wonderful phone will be a relic, and some new apps will assume that your S7 can be operated through thought control/mind reading. Alas, your S7 phone does not have that feature (as far as you know). The new app will not seem to work right.
Go ahead and give that app one star and then tap the Uninstall button. Poof. It is gone.