Android book to be produced in wiki format

The book is nearly finished, with about 15 chapters and various tutorials designed primarily for a non-technical audience

Android has taken the mobile world by storm, so it's no surprise that Google's foray into the smartphone market would become the subject of numerous books written to explain the technology.

One upcoming book called the Complete Android Guide certainly won't be the first on the mobile operating system, but the author is taking an interesting tack by setting up a wiki to let readers contribute to the book before it is published.

"I'm looking forward to readers nitpicking my book," says Kevin Purdy, a contributing editor at LifeHacker, and the author of the upcoming Complete Android Guide.

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The book is nearly finished, with about 15 chapters and various tutorials designed primarily for a non-technical audience. In late August or early September the text will be available publicly at www.completeguides.net/android in a wiki format, allowing readers to suggest edits. That doesn't mean every suggested edit will make its way into the final book, but the input of readers could help expand the guide or correct mistakes.

Searching for Android books on Amazon turns up hundreds of results, while a more targeted search for "Google Android" turns up 76. Many of these books are written for application developers, including one due out in November titled "Android Application Development for Dummies."

Purdy's contribution to the genre is similar to a "Dummies" book but is geared toward smartphone users who just purchased their first Android phone.

"It's broken up into 15 or so main chapters that walk you through the phone, the browser, the keyboard, setting up your e-mail and contacts," Purdy says. "I have quite a few other sections about security, great apps to download, and annoyances to fix right away."

Purdy believes setting up an Android phone is not as straightforward or intuitive as setting up an iPhone or BlackBerry, but that Android phones are more customizable, as long as users are savvy enough to unlock their full potential.

The book is necessary "because Android is starting to hit a critical mass right now," but it may not be immediately clear to users what the phone is most useful for, he says. "It's not [solely] an e-mail machine. It's not a single-focused app phone. It has a lot to offer and you can totally customize it, but that also means it's a bit more complex," he says.

Customizing notifications, strategies to preserve battery life, and managing MP3 music files are among the topics addressed by the Complete Android Guide. The book will also cover strategies for customizing home screens with apps, widgets and shortcuts, for example creating shortcuts to call certain people or to get GPS directions back to your house from wherever you happen to be.

While the book seems to be mainly for consumer use of Android, Purdy says it will also cover management of Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

The editing process of the book will be similar to the recent Complete Guide to Google Wave, which was also written in the wiki format.

Purdy wrote the book in Google Docs and the wiki will be powered by MindTouch software.

Published by 3ones, the Complete Android Guide will be available as a PDF for less than $10 after the wiki editing process, and as a paper book before year-end, Purdy says.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

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Jon Brodkin

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