One of the things going for Android against iOS is the ability to try applications. You will have to pay for the app before downloading, but you can play with the app for 24 hours and if it is not up to your expectations, simply uninstall the app to get a refund. This refund policy helps users to evaluate the full version of an app instead of a crippled “lite” version.

A few weeks ago, Google revised this app refund window from 24 hours to 15 minutes, stating that most users who request a refund do so within minutes of purchase. After the jump we will be weighing in the pros and cons of this new refund policy.

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Android is rapidly increasing in market share and this certainly isn’t a consequence of the same people constantly upgrading their phones. In addition to the market’s growth, some users are switching (or upgrading) from other platforms for different reasons: Android is open, cheaper, more customizable; it’s on your preferred network; there’s more choice in terms of hardware… whatever your reason for choosing Android, there’s a big chance you’re a new user.

While Android ships with a number of pre-installed apps (in addition to some custom apps and widgets from the phone maker), the Market also houses a number of fundamental apps that every new user should have. If you’re experienced with Android, be sure to check out our absolutely essential app roundup. If you’re not, then check out this newbies’ list to get you started, instead of jumping in at the deep end.

In this special, extended article, we’re going to take a look at the first steps you should take as a new Android user including a tour of some “hidden” UI elements, must-have apps and widgets and to finish off, some tips. It’s a “Beginner’s Guide” in both senses: it’s designed for new Android users, and written by a relatively new Android user 🙂

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I won’t write some sort of crude pirate analogy as my onlookers made when I started writing. Instead, I’ll start with a rule of thumb generally accepted in the mobile app industry: Google plays catch up to Apple. That’s the consensus around the mobile industry now when referring to the two rival app marketplaces. However, the reality is that Google gave developers a lot more time to prepare apps prior to their grand launch, yet they still seem to suffer at the hands of iOS. There are several factors that may dissuade developers from joining the Android Marketplace, with one of them being pirating.

One of Android’s major selling points is that it’s entirely open source and not a closed ecosystem like it’s Cupertino (or Canadian) rivals. However, this introduces the ability to plunder apps. As pirates learn the system, they also learn how to pirate and of the ability to install these apps without the need to manipulate the phone, like jailbreaking an iPhone.

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These days it seems everyone is on Facebook and the very definition of being social happens to be spending an obscene amount of time keeping track of (and replying to) your friends’ updates. A lot of things happen when you are on the move or go on a trip, and it’s only natural to want to share it with your tightly-knit group of pals.

Facebook for Android makes it easy to stay in touch and share memorable moments with your friends on the go. Read on to learn how the app can redefine your social life while on the move.

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I use my Android phone for so many tasks I couldn’t count them on ten hands if I wanted, let alone two. Viewing timetables, cinema listings and property searches. Tweeting. Facebook. YouTube. Locating ATMs and checking out local attractions to name but a few. Thousands of apps fufill our need for information everyday but, sadly, many of them are rather two-dimensional. Nothing that makes you hold your phone at arms length and go ‘Wow!’ anyway.

Layar, an Augmented Reality (AR) app developed specifically for the Android operating system takes a quick glance at the rule book and chucks it out the window. Using GPS and the phone’s camera, a small bit of social networking and tonnes of third-party programs, your local area becomes so much more fun. In the words of the creators, it “shows you things you can’t see”.

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Depending on whom you ask, the lack of an iTunes-like app for transferring music, apps, videos etc. is either a mark of freedom or a lack of effort from the part of Google. While it is nice not to be confined to one particular desktop app to get content into your mobile, such an app can have some perks: a bigger screen, using existing playlists and libraries, data backup are some among them.

The doubleTwist application makes it possible for us to have syncing facility with a desktop app without the need for any wires. Read on to find out how to set up doubleTwist on your desktop and Android mobile.

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One of the big differences between Android and iOS is the range of choices of handset that Android owners enjoy. Apple fans get four choices: “big or small”, “old or new”, “lots of storage space or even more storage space”, and “black or white”. We have to decide whether to get a hardware keyboard, what screen resolution to go for, how important having two cameras is, … it’s almost too much!

Today we’re just going to focus on one part of that choice. We’re asking you: who manufactures your Android device? Vote in the poll, and let us know what you think!

We are now three weeks into 2011 and there is one thing most of us have in common: the fading of our New Year’s resolutions. Many, including myself, pledged to either “be healthier” or “get in shape” this year. Luckily, RunKeeper knows we may need some help keeping our resolutions and is here to lend a hand.

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Good news! We have randomly selected the five winners. Check the list of names below to see if you won. If you are one of our lucky winners, you’ll be receiving an email shortly with details on how to claim your prize. Thanks for all your suggestions, and be sure to check back soon for more awesome giveaways!

  • William Duan
  • JD Hoss
  • Guarian Rodriguez
  • Lawrence Taur
  • Steven Wong

Earlier on we reviewed SpiderOak’s Android client, part of SpiderOak’s excellent set of tools for sharing, syncing, and backing up data in the cloud. Check out the review for more information.

We’ve also teamed up with the developers to offer five lucky winners each an entire year’s “Plus” license for the whole SpiderOak service — that’s 100GB of online storage!

How To Enter

To be in with a chance to win, just post a comment below letting us know what you’re most looking forward to on Android.AppStorm. Make sure you include your email address in the box provided — don’t worry, this won’t be made public.

We’ll select five winners at random from everyone that posts such a comment within the next week, and announce the winners on Thursday, February 3rd.

Good luck!

Ever since the word ‘data’ was first mumbled somewhere in a lab way back when calculators were the size of your average gymnasium, the words ‘back up’ have never been too far behind.

That’s because when data gets lost, stolen, corrupted or a hard drive simply decides life isn’t worth it anymore, valuable files can be lost if they’re not stored elsewhere. Imagine if a business only kept their accounts on a single laptop. It’d be a bad day at the office if said laptop were to go missing.

So we back up religiously to avoid such disasters and today we have a review of a cool Android app that helps you do just that. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, SpiderOak.

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