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Enhancing the “out of the box” experience

For me, the single greatest thing about Android is that no two users have their phone setup the same way. It’s just about as customizable as it gets for most people, which is one of the major things people say to me when they make the switch. Unfortunately, one of the other things that gets said upon switching is that the initial out-of-the-box experience is difficult. It’s not obvious how things work exactly, and there are no real on-phone tutorials that help explain exactly how things work. I know not everyone in the world watches my Intro to Android series, so what can be done by Google and the Manufacturers to simplify those first moments with someone’s very first Android phone?

One-time Animations

The easiest way, in my opinion, to cover some of the basics would be some brief animations when you first start the phone. Something basic like a fingerprint on the homescreen with some text inviting you to long-press. An animation that invites you to bring down the top window, or moving things around on the screen. Some kind of tutorial would make that initial experience a lot less jarring for most.

Video Tutorial

Google does a pretty good job of this, but I would like to see it for more than just extras. A brief video or image based tutorial that gives an explanation of an applications basic features. Take a look at Goggles, for examples. It’s a good way to explain what’s going on. Though, this video could also be in the app description in the Market, but that’s a story for another time. Additionally, something like the HTC marketing videos for new phones, only more informative and less “magical” would be a great way to offer a tutorial. The video could be stored on the phone, and visible when you plug into your computer.

A REAL instruction manual

Have you seen the treasure maps these things come with? It’s insane. Navigating those ridiculous things is frustrating at best. If video production or custom animations are cost-prohibitive, make a real user manual, and make it with either normal sized text, or make it flat web based, so people without 2020 vision can decipher those hieroglyphs. The current incarnation of those documents is seriously a waste of paper in my opinion, and fixing that could go a long way.

Given the resources at their disposal, Google and/or the phone manufacturers COULD step it up and make that first day with your new Android a lot less difficult. Who knows, maybe that would decrease the existing return rate of Android phone even further. I, for one, would be happy to have another metric to throw at the iFans!


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  1. Good point. Seems like every weekend I have “an objective” to learn how to do something for my new Droid X phone. This weekend its to put some music on it!

  2. There should be an app for that… Seriously though, should manufacturers deliver an interactive manual for their devices just like help files on a PC?

  3. I don’t think android is hard to figure out. My evo was my 1st touch screen phone and I’m coming from abb curve. I was able to figure things out fast just by trying different things. But for some reason, I can’t do squat on an iphone that I played with at an apple store.

  4. Prompts and animation would be great for people just learning Android, but would be extremely frustrating for long-time users who are upgrading or resetting there phone. I would suggest a”tutorial mode” which shows graphical prompts and animations during normal use and can be launched and disabled by a shortcut or widget placed by default on the home screen.

  5. I think the animated help prompts at first boot would do wonders. I still to this day think my sister doesn’t know how to get app icons off the homescreen on her Evo.

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