There's a lot of interesting-looking Android phones due to come out next year. If you're not familiar with Google's green giant then perhaps now is the time to get acquainted with the basics.
Got Gmail? - Before you power up any Android device for the first time you should have a Gmail account set up. You'll need one in order to start downloading apps from Android Market, which you'll want to do, and to set up Google Checkout in order to pay for apps. Entering your Gmail address into your phone also pulls contact info from your address book, so you're ready to start emailing people from your Android phone from the word go. You can set up a Gmail account here.
Networking - The G1 is on T-Mobile, the Magic is on Vodafone and the Hero is on 3, Orange and T-Mobile. If you haven't bought your Android phone from a network then you may need input your network settings. On your Android phone go to settings > wireless controls > mobile networks > access point names then press the menu key to add an APN. APN information for all the UK networks can be found here.
Pattern recognition - You might have seen iPhone users entering a 4 digit PIN-style number to unlock their phones. Android phones have a similar system but it's a three by three grid of dots instead of a numerical pad. You unlock it by connecting four of the dots with your finger. Head over to settings > require pattern to activate this feature.
Can I have the menu please? - The main menu consists of three or more homescreens onto which you can drag and drop shortcuts from a larger sub-menu. You'll want to be able to quickly access essentials such as your contacts and the numeric keypad for dialling, messaging for emails and texts. I'd recommend having such things on the central main page, as it's the first one you'll come to whenever you turn your phone on.
To market - Once you're familiar with the multiple menu system, it's time to head over to the Android Market. You can search for apps manually, by browsing categories (communication, entertainment, news and weather, etc) or just pick from a list of the most popular. The top 3 apps at the time of writing this are The Weather Channel app, Facebook for Android and beebPlayer, an unofficial BBC iPlayer app.
User dictionary - When you're tapping out an text message or email, you'll find that Android likes to correct your typos and offer suggestions when you begin typing. While this is useful, as it cuts down on errors, it can be annoying when your vernacular gets auto-corrected mid flow. 'UK' automatically gets changed to 'Ukulele' and 'pix' to 'pic', for example. What would Lewis Carroll do? He'd head over to the dictionary - settings > locale and text - and add some new words, that's what.