You keep going on about the Android Market – can you tell me more about it? It’s one of the best things about Android” – an online software store hosting over seventy thousand programs from Google” and third-party developers. The Market app on your phone allows you to browse and install these apps. You can browse by category (games, productivity, lifestyle and so on) and read user reviews. A lot of the apps are free to download; others can cost anywhere between a few cents and thirty or forty dollars.

Tip: There’s an app for just about everything – if only you’re prepared to sift through them to find the most useful ones.

How many apps can I load onto my phone?

Earlier versions of the platform limited app storage to the phone’s internal storage memory (ROM), plenty of space for your average user. From 2.2 onwards, however, applications can be installed to an SD storage card (see p.55 for the different kinds of memory in your phone. In theory this removes any serious limitation on the number of apps you could install, so go fill yer boots!

Can Android run the apps my friends have on their iPhones?

You won’t be able to download and run actual iPhone apps from Apple’s iTunes Store, but you will find that many apps are developed for both platforms, so the chances are that if you’re looking for a particular iPhone app you’ll find it (or something that does the same job) for download on the Android Market. Android apps may work slightly differently from their iPhone equivalents and, relatively speaking, Android is a fairly new platform, so some of the major players (IMDB, for example) are only now starting to offer Android equivalents to apps that have been around on the iPhone for a while. That said, it’s an exciting time to be an Android user, with new apps appearing at a dizzying pace.

Will every Market app work with my phone?

Probably not; the slowness of some phone companies to update to the latest version of Android means that users of older phones may find themselves left behind as newer apps come out that only support more recent releases of the platform. Some apps are just badly written or may not work properly with specific handsets. The user review entries are invaluable for saving yourself a lot of time installing duds.

Something else you’ll see now and again in the Android Market are apps that will only work if you have “root” access (which means hacking your phone).

Users of the Android Market are pretty candid about what does and doesn’t work for them. Be sure to peruse the comments and ratings for an app before you install it. If they look anything like the ones shown here, the rest of the community has just saved ten minutes of your life hat you can now spend playing NESoid.

Is there anywhere else I can get apps from?

Because the app market hasn’t been locked down and competition is openly encouraged, you’ll find a growing number of sites online where you can browse and install apps not currently available on the Market.

If I reset my phone or switch to another one, will I have to pay for my apps again?

If you log in to the Android Market with the same Go ogle login as you were using before, you’ll see all your previously downloaded apps in the Download section. From here you can re-install any of your apps and any you’ve already paid for will be free.

Can these apps contain viruses?

Technically, no. When apps are installed they provide a list of their “capabilities” to the operating system, basically a list of all the different functions it will need to access. Once installed, it’s impossible for the app to do anything (such as using your phone to make calls or accessing your GPS location) that it hasn’t declared in its capabilities. It’s worth scrutinizing these permissions that you’re granting the application to make sure it’s not asking to do anything you’d consider unnecessary.

An app’s capabilities will be shown to you as permissions which you have to grant the app before you can install it. For more about how this works and why you need to stay on top of it, see the security question on.