Connection Is More Than Just the Internet

Most of this chapter is about connecting to the Internet and using the web browser, but you can connect in more ways with the Android phone. In addition to your wireless carrier's connection, you can connect to other services, such as these:

■ Wi-Fi—This is a wireless network similar to what you might have in your home or that you'll find in various places such as coffee shops and restaurants. It enables you to connect to the Internet through a router. These networks might not be secure, so you should understand the risks of connecting to them.

■ Bluetooth—A Bluetooth connection won't help you get connected to the Internet. In fact, the only thing you can currently use Bluetooth for on the Android phone is to connect to a Bluetooth device for handsfree calling. However, future iterations of Android (and the Android phone) should include Bluetooth capabilities for exchanging files and for connecting to other Bluetooth devices such as audio equipment or printers.

■ Global Positioning System (GPS)—This is a satellite connection that enables location services such as mapping and even device tracking. This is important because many third-party applications work with both the Internet and the GPS capabilities of the Android phone to enable social networking and other services.

Including the wireless carrier's connection, you have four methods of connecting to services on the Android-based phone. Two of those methods—the wireless carrier's network and the Wi-Fi connection—enable you to connect to the Internet. You're required to have a data plan with the Android phone because the wireless carrier connects to the Internet for everything that it does: calls, syncing, and even text messaging.

Although calls are not routed through the Internet unless you're using a Skype service, the Android phone connects to it as calls are incoming or outgoing. Syncing needs to take place over the Internet because, as you learned in Chapter 4, "Core Applications," most of the Android phone's core applications are actually web-based versions of Google applications. You can use web-based versions of third-party applications to enhance the other applications.

Text messaging is a form of data transfer all wireless carriers use; a data connection instead of a voice connection. That's why all wireless carriers have separate voice and data plans. It's no different on the Android phone. Your text and multimedia messages travel across a data connection that, in essence, is an Internet connection.

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