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Galaxy S II: The Missing Manual by Preston Gralla

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Chapter 1. The Guided Tour

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THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S II—a svelte, elegant phone—is an enticing gadget, and the first time you hold it in your hands, you’ll immediately want to put it through its paces: calling friends, browsing the Web, checking your email, and more.

That’s as it should be: The Samsung Galaxy S II is a remarkably powerful device. As you’ll see in the rest of this book, it can do some remarkable things that make you feel as if the phone has superpowers.

To help you unlock all those powers, though, it’s a good idea to get a solid understanding of how the Galaxy S II works, and a look at all its different parts. You’ll want to know where all of its buttons, keys, and ports are located, for example—not to mention how to get to your Home screen and panes.

Power/Lock Key

THREE QUARTERS OF THE WAY up on the right side of the Galaxy S II, you find a small, rectangular black button. It may be only a single button, but it’s a hardworking one, and it performs several functions:

  • Standby/Wake. When your Galaxy S II is turned on, pressing and releasing the button puts the phone into Standby mode, a sleep-like state in which the display is turned off and the device uses only a minimum amount of power, in order to save battery life. When the Galaxy S II is in dreamland, it also doesn’t register any taps, so that you can’t accidentally send an email or delete every picture on your phone. When your Galaxy S II is in Standby, pressing and releasing this button wakes up the Galaxy S II into its locked mode—you’ll see how to unlock it a little later. When the phone is in Standby, it can still receive calls, communicate with the Internet, and so on.

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  • On/Off. If your Galaxy S II is turned off, hold down the button, and it springs to life. Simple, yes? If, on the other hand, it’s turned on, holding down the button turns it off. When you do so, though, it doesn’t immediately shut down. Instead, a screen appears that lets you choose between shutting it down; putting it into Silent mode, in which the Galaxy S II works as it normally does except that it makes no sounds; and putting it into Flight mode, in which all wireless communications are shut off but you can still use the phone’s apps and other features.

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The Power/Lock key also performs a useful trick that people near you will appreciate—it shuts off your ringer when you receive a call. Press it once when you get a call, and your ringer turns off. You’ll be able to see who’s calling, without the ring, and decide whether to answer the call or ignore it. If you ignore the call, it gets sent to voicemail.

Locking the Screen

As described on Power/Lock Key, when you put the Galaxy S II on Standby, the screen stops responding to touch. It blacks out, indicating that the screen is locked. Always lock the screen before putting the Galaxy S II in your pocket or bag to avoid accidental screen taps (and potentially embarrassing unintended phone calls). In fact, every time you leave the phone untouched for a certain amount of time (as little as 15 seconds, as much as 10 minutes; see Location and Security for details), the screen automatically locks itself.

While the screen is locked, the Galaxy S II still operates behind the scenes, checking email and Facebook on schedule. You can still get phone calls and text messages, and even listen to music while the screen is locked.

When you again want to use the Galaxy S II, you’ll need to unlock it. Press the Power key, then put your fingertip on the screen and slide it to the right or left. Your Galaxy S II is now ready to do your bidding. If you’ve missed a phone call, when you turn your screen back on, you’ll see a red icon of a phone with a number on it—that tells you the number of calls you’ve missed. Put your finger on the icon and slide it to the right. You’ll see details of the missed call. You can then call the person back (Dialing a Call), or call voice mail to get a message (Voicemail.)

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You can adjust the amount of time it takes for the Galaxy S II to lock itself. You can also turn off Locked mode entirely. And for added security, you can also require that a password be used to unlock your Galaxy S II, or even that a specific finger swiping motion be performed on the keyboard before it can be unlocked. For details, see Location and Security.

Headset Jack

AT THE TOP OF the Galaxy S II, you’ll find a 3.5-millimeter headset jack. Notice that it’s a head set jack, not just a garden variety head phone jack. It doesn’t just let you listen; it accepts incoming sound as well. That’s so you can plug an earbud headset (or other kind of headset) into it and use it for making phone calls.

Of course, it’s also a headphone jack, so you can plug in headphones or even external speakers, and enjoy the Galaxy S II as a music machine, because it offers full stereo.

About the Screen

THE SCREEN IS WHERE you and the Galaxy S II do most of your communicating with each other. Compare the Galaxy S II’s screen to that of almost any other phone, and you’ll immediately notice how roomy it is—4.52 inches, measured diagonally (technically, that’s 800 by 480 pixels). When you turn it sideways, it switches to a widescreen TV and movie format.

But there’s a lot going on behind that pretty display.


Since you’re going to be touching the display with your fingers, it’s going to get dirty and streaky. Simply wipe it clean with a soft, lint-free cloth or tissue. The screen is scratch-resistant, but if you’re worried about scratches, get a case or screen protector. See Appendix B for ideas.

Built-in Sensors

Underneath its flat black screen, the Galaxy S II has four sensors that perform a lot of its magic:

  • Proximity sensor. Have you ever noticed that when you’re talking on your Galaxy S II, the screen often goes blank? That’s thanks to the proximity sensor. It senses when your face is close to it during a phone call and automatically turns off and blanks the touch screen as you keep talking. It does this to save power, and so you don’t accidentally touch the screen while talking and perform some unwanted task.


    High humidity may affect the proximity sensor and disconnect you from a call while you’re talking. If you’re in a closed car and perspiring, you may get knocked off a call. If that happens, turning on the air conditioner to dehumidify the air should do the trick.

  • Ambient light sensor. Senses the light level, and adjusts your screen’s brightness, as a way to save battery power. So in bright light, it makes the screen brighter so that it can be more easily seen, and in dim light, it makes the screen dimmer, because bright light is not needed.


    The ambient light sensor takes a light reading and adjusts your screen’s brightness when you unlock your phone, and leaves it at that level until you lock the screen again. So if you unlock your Galaxy S II in a dim room and then bring it into the sunlight, it will still have a dim screen.

  • 3-axis accelerometer. As its name implies, this sensor measures acceleration and motion. The Galaxy S II uses the accelerometer to sense the orientation of the screen and turn it to either landscape or portrait mode. But clever app makers use it for other things as well, such as automatic collision notification, which detects when you’re in an accident and then automatically makes a call for assistance for you. There’s even an app that works with the Galaxy S II’s magnetometer to detect potholes as you drive, and create a log about their locations, which you can then email to your local department of public works. (It’s called Pothole Agent. Search the Galaxy S II’s Marketplace app for it.)

  • Magnetometer. Measures the strength and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s used for compass apps and can also work with the accelerometer, as it does in Pothole Agent.

Status Bar Icons

THE GALAXY S II makes sure to always keep you updated with information about its current status, and with any news, updates, and information it thinks is important. It does this by displaying a variety of icons in the status bar at the top of the Galaxy S II screen. The status bar is divided into two parts. On the upper-right side of the screen, you’ll find icons that give information about the current state of the Galaxy S II, such as signal strength, 3G connection status, the time of day, and so on. At the upper left is the Notification area, which notifies you when you have email or voice messages waiting, an event on your calendar is about to occur, and so on.

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Many applications have their own icons that alert you to news, information, and updates. These always appear on the left side of the status bar. You’ll see alert icons from Gmail, Facebook, and others.

Here are the most common icons you’ll come across:

  • Cell signal . The more bars you see, the stronger the signal. The stronger the signal, the clearer the call and the lower the likelihood that you’ll lose a connection. If you have no connection at all, this signal won’t appear, and just underneath the status bar, on the top of the Home screen, you’ll see the much-hated warning: (No service).


    When you see a notification on the left side of the status bar, drag down the Notification bar to see more details. You can also take some kind of action on the notification by tapping its icon after you drag it down—like checking your email or running an app that you’ve just downloaded. There’s also a Clear button that makes all the current notifications go away.

  • Roaming . If you’re outside a AT&T service area and connected via another network, you’ll see the Roaming icon. Keep in mind that typically you’re charged for making calls or using data when you’re roaming, so when you see this icon, be careful what you do on your Galaxy S II—maybe it’s not the time to download 30 songs and a half-hour TV show.

  • 3G . This one appears when you’re connected via 3G, AT&T’s high-speed, broadband service, which should be most of the time. It means that download and upload speeds are fast. The little arrows underneath the symbol show when data is being sent and received. You’ll notice that the arrows may turn black even when you think you’re not sending or receiving data. That’s because the Galaxy S II may be checking for email, updates, and so on.

  • Bluetooth connection . This icon indicates that you’ve turned on Bluetooth, for making a connection to a headset or some other device.

  • 3G Mobile hotspot . Your Galaxy S II can serve as a mobile hotspot, providing Internet service to up to five computers, smartphones, or other devices and gadgets via Wi-Fi. See Turning Your Galaxy S II into a Wi-Fi Hot Spot or Tethering It for details. When you turn the phone into a 3G mobile hotspot, this icon appears.

  • Flight mode . When you use Flight mode, you turn off Wi-Fi and cellular communications, so you can still keep using your phone’s apps, but it won’t interfere with navigation equipment. See Flight Mode for more details.

  • Downloading . When you’re downloading an app or media file, you’ll see this icon.

  • Download complete . Congratulations—your download was successful.

  • New email message . You’ve got mail! See Reading Mail for more about reading new email.

  • New Gmail message . You’ve got Gmail! See Reading Mail in Gmail for more about reading new email messages in Gmail.

  • GPS . Your GPS radio is turned on. See Location and Security for information about GPS.

  • Problem with message delivery . Oops! Email is having problems. Sometimes you can solve this problem easily—just check your email again.

  • Upcoming event . Now you’ll never forget your anniversary—or your dentist appointment. The Galaxy S II alerts you via this icon when you’ve got an event about to happen.

  • Voicemail message . You’ve got mail—voicemail, that is. See Voicemail to learn how to check your voicemail.

  • Missed call . Someone called you, and you didn’t answer. You see this icon appear even if the person left no voicemail.

  • Vibrate . This symbol indicates that you’ve set your Galaxy S II to vibrate when you get a call.

  • Sync active . This icon alerts you that you’ve set the Galaxy S II to automatically synchronize information such as email, contacts, and calendar data. The icon is animated when you’re doing the actual syncing.

  • Silent . If you’ve a believer that silence is golden, and you’ve told the Galaxy S II not to ring when you get a call, here’s what you’ll see.

  • Mute call . Reminds you that you’ve put your call on mute. If no one can hear what you’re saying, that may be why.

  • Speakerphone . Using the Galaxy S II’s built-in speakerphone? Here’s what you’ll see.

  • TTY symbol . You’ve turned on Teletypewriter mode, a special mode that allows the Galaxy S II to communicate with a teletypewriter. That’s a machine that lets deaf people make phone calls by reading and typing text.

  • Alarm . Who needs an alarm clock when you’ve got your Galaxy S II? This icon indicates that the alarm is on. You can even set multiple alarms.

  • Time . Shows you what time it is. Say goodbye to your watch.


    Want to see today’s date? Hold your finger on the right end of the status bar, and it will appear. Remove your finger and it goes away.

  • Battery . Get to know this little icon—it shows you how much battery life you’ve got. If it’s charging, it plays a battery-filling animation and displays a small lightning bolt.

  • Connected to VPN . If you use your Galaxy S II to connect to your company network via virtual private networking (VPN), this icon shows when your connection is active. You can check your work email and do anything else your company lets VPNers do. (If you’re interested in getting VPN access, you’ll need your IT department’s help, as described in Chapter 13.)

  • Disconnected from VPN. You were on the VPN, and now you’re off.

  • Problem with sign in or sync . Houston, we have a problem. Sync isn’t working or you can’t sign into one of your services.

  • USB connection . You’ll connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable for a variety of reasons, including copying and syncing files. Here’s the icon you’ll see when you make the connection.

  • SD card is full . This icon appears when your SD card has run out of space. It’s time to get a bigger or newer one, or start deleting files.

  • Power saving mode . When you see this, it means that you’re in power-saving mode, in order to get more life out of your battery. See Power Saving Mode for details.

The Four Keys

MOST OF THE TIME you use your Galaxy S II, you’ll be tapping on virtual buttons on the keyboard. But down at the bottom of the Galaxy S II, there are four real keys—physical things that you actually push. From left to right, here’s what they do:

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This key opens up a menu that lets you perform some kind of task or customization related to what you’re currently doing. In geek-speak, it’s context sensitive, which is a fancy way of saying that the menu that appears changes according to what you’re doing on your phone when you touch the button. So if you’re looking at your contacts, for example, you’ll be able to do things like adding a contact, displaying only a certain group of contacts, backing up your contacts, and so on. If you’re looking at your calendar, you’ll be able to create a new event, change the time period that shows in your calendar, and other similar options.

When you’re at the Home screen and you press the Menu key, here’s the menu that appears, and what you can do with each command:

  • Add. Lets you add a shortcut to your Home screen—an icon that when tapped launches an app, opens a file, and so on. You can add pre-built widgets (apps or little gadgets that do things like toggle Flight mode on and off), shortcuts to actions like searching for contacts, and shortcuts to folders. You can also change your wallpaper. Just tap the action you want to take, and follow the onscreen directions. For more details, see Customizing the Home Screen and Panes.

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    Holding your finger on the Home screen also launches the Add screen.

  • Wallpaper. Tap this option on the menu, and you can change your Home screen wallpaper. Some of the niftier choices here are the “live” wallpapers that display changing information, such a windmill that reflects how windy it is at your current location. For more details, see Adding Widgets, Folders, Shortcuts, and Wallpaper.

  • Search. Tap here to search the Internet and your phone using Google. See Searching Your Samsung Galaxy S II for details.

  • Notifications. This drags down the Notification area to show you your notifications, and also displays the Power Control widget. For details, see Status Bar Icons.

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  • Edit. This lets you delete any one of your seven (yes, that’s right, count them, seven!) home screens, also called panes. See Settings Pane for details.

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  • Settings. Lets you change all your Galaxy S II settings. For details, see Wireless and Network.

Home Key

Repeat after me, Dorothy: There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.… Wherever you are on the Galaxy S II, press the Home key and you’ll come back to the familiar Home screen. You won’t even need to tap your ruby slippers together.

The key does more than just bring you home, though. Holding it down brings up a small menu of shortcuts to your commonly used apps. Tap an icon on that menu, and the app launches. Tap Task Manager, and an app launches that lets you manage your running apps and more. (See Using the Task Manager for Managing Apps for details.)

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Back Key

Wherever you are, press this key, and you go to where you just were. The Back key works inside apps as well as in menus. So when you’re browsing the Web, for example, it acts as your Back button. Pressing the Back key also makes a displayed keyboard or menu disappear.

Search Key

Press this key, and a Quick Search box appears. Tap in the text you want to search for, and then tap the Search button to perform the search. Like the Menu key, the Search key is contact sensitive. So if you’re in your email inbox, it searches your email, and if you’re in your Contacts list, it searches through your contacts. If you press it while you’re on the Home screen, it searches your contacts and displays any matching results, and also displays a list of likely matches for a Google search. Tap any match to search for that term on the Web. As you type, it lists matching results.

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The Galaxy S II also lets you perform voice search—instead of tapping in your search terms, you can speak them. To do a voice search, hold down the Search key instead of just pressing it, and then speak. The Galaxy S II does its best to interpret what you say, and it generally does a good job of it.

Micro USB Port and Charger

FOR TRANSFERRING FILES AND syncing music and movies between your computer and the Galaxy S II, there’s a micro USB port at the bottom of the Galaxy S II. A micro USB port is much smaller than the normal one on devices such as printers. To connect the Galaxy S II to your computer, you’ll need a micro USB cable, one of which comes in the Galaxy S II box. The Galaxy S II can connect to both Macs and PCs. When you connect your Galaxy S II to a computer by USB cable, your phone gets power and charge from the computer. But it charges at a much slower rate than when you use the normal charger.

The Micro USB port is also a charger port. Connect the charger attachment to one end of the USB cable and the other end to your Galaxy S II, and it charges your smartphone. If you use power-hungry features like video and GPS, you may have to charge the Galaxy S II every night. If you stick to mostly phone calls and text messages, you may be able to get by with charging only two or three times a week.


You can use the Galaxy S II while it’s charging, unless the battery has run down completely. In that case, it’ll need to build up a charge before you can turn it on.

This port does one more thing as well. The Galaxy S II may be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but it’s still a big-time entertainment machine. That’s because it is HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) capable. With it, you can watch videos and photos taken on your Galaxy S II right on your computer or TV screen, as long as they also have HDMI ports. Plug one end of the cable into your Galaxy S II, the other into your PC or TV, and you’re ready to go. What does that have to do with the USB port? Plenty. Buy a special attachment to connect your Galaxy S II to an HDMI device. (See Using HDMI to View Photos and Videos on a TV or Monitor for details.)

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When you connect your Galaxy S II to a PC for the first time, your PC may not recognize it. That’s because your PC may need special drivers (small pieces of software) to communicate with the Galaxy S II. Windows will try its mightiest to find the drivers, but there’s a chance it won’t be able to locate them. If it doesn’t, you can go over to the Samsung help website (www.samsung.com/us/support/) and search for Samsung Galaxy S II drivers. Then download the drivers and follow the instructions for installing them.

Ringer Volume

IS YOUR RINGER TOO loud? Too soft? Get it just right by using these keys. Press the top one to make the volume louder, and the bottom one to make it softer. When you press, a ringer volume app pops up on your screen, showing you how much louder or softer you’re making the ring. It’s a black key on the upper-left side of your phone.


THAT TINY LITTLE HOLE at the bottom of the Galaxy S II is the microphone. Yes, it’s small, but it does the job very nicely.


FLIP THE GALAXY S II over, and you’ll find the battery cover. Yes, that’s right, an actual battery cover—you can remove the Galaxy S II battery and replace it with a new one, unlike some other cellphones. To remove the battery, put your finger underneath the small plastic slot on the upper right and pull off the battery cover. You’ll see the battery, which you can easily remove by putting your finger into the slot at the bottom and gently pulling up. Don’t pull it hard or yank it.


Before removing the battery, make sure to turn the Galaxy S II’s power off via the Power/Lock key.

To replace the battery, simply put it back into place. After you’ve put the battery back in place, replace the battery cover. Now turn on the Galaxy S II.

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SIM Card

DEPENDING ON YOUR CARRIER, you might need a SIM card to use your phone. If so, you’ll get the SIM card when you buy the phone. The carrier may put it in for you, or you may need to do it yourself. It’s located above the battery. When you insert it, make sure the gold-colored contacts face down.

MicroSD Card

JUST ABOVE THE BATTERY, you’ll also find a small slot for the MicroSD card, which is about the size of a fingernail, and much smaller than the normal SD memory cards used in cameras. Your Galaxy S II may not have shipped with an SD card, so you may have to buy one. The Galaxy S II can use one that stores up to 32 GB of data. Like the SIM card, place it with the gold-colored contacts facing down.

When you first put in a MicroSD card, you’ll have to tell your phone to use it. After you insert the card, turn on your phone and from the Home screen, press the Menu key. Select Settings→Storage and tap Mount SD Card. If your phone doesn’t recognize it after that, tap Format SD Card.


If you’ve got a MicroSD card in your phone and you’ve stored files on it, make sure not to tap Format SD Card. When you do that, you erase all of the data stored on it.

In the SD card section of the Storage section, you can see how much total space is on the SD card, and how much space remains.

If you want to replace the SD card (for example, if you have a 16 GB card and want to replace it with one that has more capacity), it’s easy to do. From the Home screen, press the Menu key, and then select Settings Storage. Then tap “Unmount SD card.”

When you’ve done that, turn off the phone’s power and remove the battery cover. You can then slide out the MicroSD card. Then insert new MicroSD card, and follow the instructions above for telling your Galaxy S II to recognize it.


YOUR SAMSUNG GALAXY S II includes not one, but two cameras, both capable of taking videos as well as photos. The camera on the back, which is the one you’ll normally use for taking photos and videos, has an 8-pixel resolution. The camera that faces you is primarily designed for video calling and video chat, although you can also take photos with it (self-portraits mostly). It’s got a 2-megapixel resolution. Don’t look for a physical camera button for taking photos; instead, you tap a red button onscreen (see Taking Still Photos).

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Home Screen

WELCOME TO YOUR NEW home, the Galaxy S II Home screen. Get to it by pressing the Home key no matter where you are.

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When you first visit your Home screen, you see a green robot icon (he’s a droid—slang for android). Touch him to get a few basic tips about getting started with the Galaxy S II. After that, though, you don’t need him, so press and hold the icon until a Trash can appears at the bottom of the screen. Then you can drag him to the Trash.

At first glance, it’s a relatively bare screen, populated by the following:

  • Notification bar. As detailed on Status Bar Icons, this bar displays the status of many phone features and a variety of notifications, like when you’ve got email waiting for you.

  • App icons. Typically, the Home screen has four icons—one for checking your calendar, one for checking email (right on the icon you’ll see how many new messages you’ve got), one for using the camera, and one, titled Market, to let you search for and download new apps—tens of thousands of them, many of them free. As you’ll see later in this section, you can add or delete icons from the Home screen.

  • Dock. Just below the app icons are four icons. They sit in an area called the Dock, and they’re different from the app icons. Unlike the app icons, you can’t delete them. As you’ll see in a little bit, there are other screens you can move to, called panes or panels, but the icons in the Dock stay in place no matter which pane you visit. (The app icons change according to what pane you’re on.) The Phone icon launches the Phone app; the text messaging icon lets you send and receive text messages (it shows how many messages you’ve got waiting); the Web icon launches your Web browser; and the Launcher icon reveals a whole new screen called the Apps Tray, filled with apps, apps, and more apps.

  • Pane indicator. Just above the Dock you’ll see seven small circles. They each represent a different pane. The largest circle shows you which pane you’re currently viewing. To jump to any pane, tap its button. (You can also slide over, as you’ll see on Settings Pane.)

Press the Launcher icon, and up pops the Application Tray, which includes all the Galaxy S II’s preinstalled apps, plus any apps that you’ve downloaded and installed. There’s more than can fit on one screen, so swipe your finger to the right to get to another screen filled with them. Tap any icon to run the app.

Don’t be fooled by the relative barrenness of the Home screen, because one of its main purposes is to be a gateway to the Applications Tray and to seven (count ’em, seven) different panes that make it easy to perform plenty of common and not-so-common things, like checking your calendar and weather, seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook and other social networking sites, playing music and videos, and more.

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Slide your finger to the left or right on the Home screen, and you move from the Home screen to one of the panes. What’s on the pane changes—you’ll generally see a mix of app icons and widgets. (Read more about widgets on Adding Widgets, Folders, Shortcuts, and Wallpaper.) If you don’t like what you see on any pane, don’t worry; as you’ll see on Customizing the Home Screen and Panes, you can fiddle with it to your heart’s content. The Dock remains the same no matter where you go. The pane indicator has changed—a different button is now larger, to show you which pane you’re on.


The Galaxy S II is powered by an operating system from Google called Android, as are many other phones, such as the Droid X2, the HTC Incredible, the Sprint HTC EVO 4G, and many others. The Android operating system is constantly getting updated, and those updates are automatically sent to your phone when they’re available. So what you see on your Galaxy S II may vary slightly from what you see onscreen here, depending on the version of Android you have on your phone.

Also, manufacturers often tweak the phone’s interface, sometimes in significant ways. Samsung uses its own TouchWiz interface, which makes many changes to Android. So when you compare the Samsung Galaxy S II to other Android phones, you’ll notice differences.

Your Samsung Galaxy S II may also differ slightly from what you see in this book. This book was written based on the Samsung Galaxy S II sold for AT&T phones, and it may slightly differ from what you see on phones from other carriers.

Of the Galaxy S II’s seven panes (including the Home screen), the leftmost one is empty, except for the Dock and the pane indicator. It’s blank, so you can fill it up any way you wish. Many of the other panes contain a miscellaneous collection of icons, not necessarily related to one another. They can be customized as well. But there are several panes that serve a primary purpose, or that have a particularly useful widget, that are worth taking a closer look at. These panes can be customized as well, if you’d like.

Settings Pane

The pane on the far right contains two very nifty widgets that you’ll find quite useful.

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At the top is the Task Manager widget that shows you the number of apps you’re currently running and the state of your battery. (The wider the bar, the more full it is.) There’s a lot of magic hidden in the Task Manager. Tap it and you’ll come to a screen that shows you the apps you’re currently running, along with how much memory (RAM) each uses, and how much of your phone’s brains (called the CPU) it uses. If you’d like to free up RAM or the CPU, tap the Exit button next to any app to stop that app from running. You can tap Exit All to stop them all from running. Just keep in mind that when you kill an app in this way, any data in it will be lost unless you save it before you kill the app.

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The Task Manager does more as well. Tap Downloaded to see all the apps you’ve downloaded, along with information about each, including its size. Tap Uninstall to uninstall any.

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At the top of the screen tap RAM to see your RAM usage. To clear even more RAM, tap “Clear memory.” This will kill some apps, and also clean up some stray stuff Android does behind the scenes that’s not currently necessary, to give you more RAM.

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Tap Storage at the top of the screen to see how much storage you’ve got on your phone, and how much is left. The Galaxy S II has three different areas for storage: System storage, which handles the Android operating system and apps; USB storage, for most of your storage such as for music and other files; and SD card (see SIM Card), where you can store more music and other files, as well as apps. When you tap the Storage tab you see the total capacity of each, and how much of each you’ve used.

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Let’s head back to the Settings pane. At the bottom you’ll see the Power Control widget, which lets you turn on and off various types of radios and services that eat up power, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. (For details, see the box on Maximizing Your Battery Charge.) When a radio or feature is on, its icon is colored (green for Wi-Fi and red for GPS, for example); its icon turns gray when it’s off.

Notice on the widget that there’s also a Settings icon. That icon controls only your power settings, not all of your Galaxy S II’s settings. Tap it to get to a screen that gives you many different kinds of controls for saving battery power.

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To the right of the Settings icon you’ll see three small dots. Tap them to reveal even more power settings, including changing the screen brightness, handling sync, and setting how long the screen should stay lit without you touching it. Tap any icon to change the setting.

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Social Networking Pane

The pane just to the left of the Home screen displays updates from Facebook. It shows just a snapshot of your social networking activity—only the most recent activity—via a widget, which is a small program that can grab information from an app or other information source and display it. To see all your social networking activity, launch the Social Networking app from this pane. For details, including how to set up social networking accounts, see Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn on the Galaxy S II.

You can read and interact with the updates you see on this pane, as well as update your own status and send messages. Click the entry you want to interact with (or your own for updating your own status and sending messages), and follow the onscreen instructions for posting an update, adding a comment to a post, and so on.

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On this screen you’ll also see two icons with the word Buddy on them. Tap either, and you get sent to a screen that lets you select someone from your Contacts list. When you select buddies, their pictures show up here (if you’ve got pictures of them). Once they’re here, just tap them and you’ll be able to contact them via email, text messaging, phone, and more, depending on what contact information you have for them.

Widgets and Apps on Other Panes

You’ll find useful widgets and apps on other panes as well. The second pane on the left will likely have a variety of apps and widgets put there by your carrier, possibly including a featured app widget that shows you apps you might want to download, and apps for managing your account with your carrier.

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On the pane just to the right of the Home screen you’ll find a useful weather widget that shows at a glance the current weather and the weather for the next four days. Tap it for more details about the weather.

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Customizing the Home Screen and Panes

HERE’S ONE OF THE many nice things about the Galaxy S II—it’s easy to put your personal mark on it. Wish there were a few more apps on the Home screen? No problem; you can easily add them. Want to change the location of apps, or move around widgets and add new ones to each of your panes and the Home screen? It’s a breeze. The rest of this section shows you how.

Adding Widgets, Folders, Shortcuts, and Wallpaper

The Home screen and all its panes are much like a blank canvas, waiting for your Picasso-like touches. Instead of paint, you can add widgets, shortcuts, and folders, and even change its wallpaper. To do any of the above, the first step is the same: Press and hold your finger anywhere on the Home screen or a pane. An “Add to Home screen” menu appears, with the following options:

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  • Widgets. A widget is an applet that performs a small, specific task, often grabbing and displaying information from the Galaxy S II or the Internet, although they can do almost anything. When you select this option, you see a list of all the widgets you can add—anything from the weather widget to an Internet bookmark, YouTube widget, and more. Swipe your finger to show more widgets. Tap any widget to add it to the screen.

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    You can’t customize the Apps Menu (also called the Apps Tray) in the same way that you can the Home screen. If you hold your finger on it, nothing happens.

  • Shortcuts. A shortcut is a quick link to an app or specific task. So, for example, you could put a shortcut to the Pandora Internet radio app, or to an individual contact to display contact information, or to the Galaxy S II’s voice dialing app.

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    When you try to add widgets, shortcuts, and folders to a pane, sometimes nothing happens when you hold your finger on. That just means the pane is full. If a pane is so full with icons, widgets, and shortcuts that there’s no room on it, you can’t add to it. So if you want to add something to the pane, you first need to delete something. See Customizing the Home Screen and Panes for how to delete things from a pane or Home screen.

  • Folders. Folders hold information and files, the same way they do on computers. You’ve already got lots of folders on your Galaxy S II, like your folder full of contacts, and Favorites from your browsers. When you install apps, they may create their own folders as well—the Pandora Internet radio app, for example, creates a folder of your radio stations.

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  • Wallpaper. Here’s where the Picasso part comes in. You can add a wallpaper to the background of your Home screen, just as you can add wallpaper to your computer. There are three choices here: Gallery, Live wallpapers, or Wallpapers.

    Live wallpapers are changing backgrounds, either because they’re animated, or because they grab information from somewhere, and then display it as part of the wallpaper background. So the Ocean weather wallpaper, for example, shows an ocean scene that reflects your current weather. If you choose Gallery, you can take any of your photos and use it as wallpaper. The Wallpaper choice lets you use a static wallpaper. No matter what you choose, you get to preview the wallpaper first.

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When you add wallpaper to your Home screen, it also shows up as the background on all your panes. And when you add it to a pane, it shows up on your Home screen.

OK, time to go crazy. You can now trick out your Home screen or pane in countless ways.

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Deleting and Moving

Once you’ve added widgets, folders, and shortcuts to your Home screen, you’re not stuck with them, or with where you’ve placed them:

  • To move a widget, folder, or shortcut, press your finger on it and hold it for a second or two. The pane or Home screen gets outlined, and a small highlight box appears around the widget, folder, or shortcut. Drag it to its new location and take your finger off of it. That’s where it will stay. You can even drag it to another screen in this way.

  • To delete a widget, folder, or shortcut, also press your finger on it and hold it for a second or two until the highlight box appears. You’ll notice a Delete icon in the shape of a Trash can appear at the bottom of the screen. Drag the doomed item to the Trash can. When you see it turn red, release it—it’s gone.

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When you delete a shortcut to an app, you’re not deleting the app itself—just a shortcut to it. The app remains on the Apps Tray. If you want to delete the app itself, you have to delete it from the Apps Tray.


Some widgets can be resized or customized after you add them to your Home screen or pane. Press and hold your finger on a widget and then release it. A yellow box appears around the widget, with a triangular, gray resizing indicator on the lower right. Move the resizing indicator to resize the widget. In some instances, such as for the weather widget, when you resize, you reduce the number of weather locations on display.

Deleting and Adding Panes

LET’S SAY YOU’VE GOT a pane tricked out with widgets, shortcuts, and folders. You decide that you’d like it all to go—every widget, every shortcut, every folder. Rather than deleting them one by one, you want to delete them in one fell swoop. To do it, you’ll delete the entire pane, so that rather than the Home screen and six panes, there will be the Home screen and five panes. Fear not, though, because you can also add a new pane back.

To delete a pane, when you’re on the Home screen or a pane, press the Menu key and select Edit. Thumbnails of the Home screen and all the panes appear, including even smaller thumbnails of the widgets, shortcuts, and folders on each of them. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a trash icon.

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Drag the pane whose content you want to delete onto the trash can. It turns red. Release your finger. You’re asked if you want to delete it. Answer yes, and the pane, including all of its content, will be deleted. The thumbnails appear again, but this time there’s a big + sign instead of the former pane. Tap it, and a new blank pane is added.

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Controlling the Galaxy S II with Your Fingers

WITH THE GALAXY S II, your fingers do the walking. They do all the work that you do on a computer with a mouse or keyboard. Here are the eight finger strokes you can use on the Galaxy S II’s screen.


Tapping is as basic to the Galaxy S II as clicking is to a mouse. This one simple gesture is how you press onscreen buttons, place the cursor for text entry, and choose from menus. Note that’s a finger tap; the screen is designed to detect a fleshy fingertip, not a stylus.

Touch and Hold

Touch an object and hold it for several seconds, and depending on what you’re holding, an option menu may appear. (For example, when you touch and hold the Home screen, a menu appears that lets you add an object such as a widget, change your wallpaper, and so on.) You also touch and hold an object as a way to grab onto it if you then want to drag the object somewhere.


After you’ve grabbed something, you can drag it with your finger, such as dragging an icon to the Trash.


Slide your finger across the screen to perform some specific tasks, such as unlocking your phone after it’s been put into Standby mode, or to answer a phone call on a locked Galaxy S II. You’ll also use the sliding motion to move through all six of the Home screen’s panes.


Think of the flick as a faster slide, done vertically when scrolling through a list, such as a list of your contacts. The faster you make the flicking motion, the faster your screen scrolls—sometimes too fast. You can stop the motion, though, by touching the screen again.


Flicks seem to actually obey the laws of physics, or at least as much as virtual movement can. When you flick a list, it starts off scrolling very quickly, and then gradually slows down, as if it were a ball set in motion that gradually loses momentum.

To scroll through large lists quickly, you can flick multiple times.

Pinch and Spread

In many apps, such as Google Maps, Mail, the Web, and Photos, you can zoom in by spreading your fingers—placing your thumb and forefinger on the screen and spreading them. The amount you spread your fingers will determine the amount you zoom in.

To zoom out, put your thumb and forefinger on the screen and pinch them together. The more you pinch, the more you zoom out.


When you’re viewing a map (such as Google Maps), a picture, or you’re on a web page, you can zoom in by double-tapping. In some instances, when you’ve reached the limit of zooming in, when you double-tap again, you restore the zoom to its original size.


Another way to zoom out in Google Maps is to tap with two fingers at once. This trick is unique to Google Maps.

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