Android A to Z


Like most hobbies/obsessions dealing with technology and similar geeky things, there  are a few terms that you will run across on this blog that you may not be familiar with. Here are some helpful definitions:





Android: The name of Google’s smartphone and tablet computer operating system. Like Windows, Android is an operating system (OS) that controls the functionality and operations of your phone or tablet. There are different versions of Android, all named after desserts (cupcake, donut, eclair, froyo, gingerbread, honeycomb amd ice cream sandwich.

.apk: The file extension of an Android application.



Bloatware: Applications that are preloaded onto a device, usually by a carrier. They can’t be removed unless you root your device. The downside: they take up space for other, more useful apps. The upside is that these applications are what allow carriers to sell phones and tablets at subsidized prices.

Bluetooth: A short-range radio build into phones that lets you connect headsets, speakerpor even computers to your smartphone.

Bootloader: When you turn on (boot up) your device, the bootloader is a program that loads the operating system. If it is “locked,” it will only load the OS that came installed on the phone. If it’s unlocked (or you unlock it) you can run custom versions of Android on your device See ROM.



Carrier: A company that provides cell phone service.

CDMA: One of two major standard for cell phone communications. Is used by Sprint and Verizon in the United States, and by a few nations elsewhere. Is largely seen as a dying standard. (See also GSM)

Cupcake: Android 1.5



Donut: Android 1.6

Droid: What the androids were called in Star Wars (and a registered Trademark of LucasFilm). Verizon licensced the Droid name and has released a series of Android phones under the name.



Eclair: Android 2.0



Froyo: (California slang for frozen yogurt) Android 2.2



GSM: One of two major standard for cell phone transmissions. Used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States, and by the majority of carriers worldwide.

Gingerbread: Android 2.3



Hard reset: The act of resetting your phone to its “factory” state. Erases all user data, logins and passwords. May or may not erase what’s on the internal storage or microSD card, too.

Honeycomb: Android 3.0

HTC: (High Tech Computing)A Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer.



Ice Cream Sandwich: (ICS) Android 4.0



Jellybean: Proposed name for Android 5.0



Kernel: The basic building block of Android, based on the Linux version of the UNIX operating system for desktop computers.



Launcher: The part of the Android user interface on home screens that lets you launch apps, make phone calls and other basic device functions. All versions of Android have a built-in launcher, or third-party onescan be purchased in the Android Market.

Linux: An open source variant of Unix that is used as the underlying system on Android devices.

LTE: (“Long-Term Evolution”) Considered to be one of the “true” methods of 4G data (even if it technically isn’t). First rolled out by Verizon in late 2010, and then by AT&T in late 2011, and Sprint will begin using it in mid-2012.



Motorola: Manufacturer of smartphones and other hand-held wireless devices. Motorola Mobility was purchased by Google in late 2011.

Motoblur: Motorola’s custom Android interface (skin). Features lots of widgets and social networking apps.



Nexus: Google’s “Official” line of Android phones. Also known as “Pure Android” devices. These phones run a “pure” or “Vanilla” version of Android, meaning it is the original, Google-released version without any manufacturer modifications or “bloatware.” Generally launched once a year in conjunction with major updates to Android, the Nexus phones are the first to receive subsequent updates to the OS.

Nook: Barnes & Noble’s Android-based e-reader and tablet series. The original Nook features a black-and-white e-ink display. The Nook Color is a full-color, full-touchscreen e-reader that can be hacked to serve as a full-fledged Android tablet. The Nook Tablet is a full-color, full touchscreen device that functions as an Android tablet.

NFC: Near-field communication. Short-range data transfer between your phone and another phone, a cash register, etc. U



OEM: (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Usually a company that produces a component or entire device for another company.

OS: Operating system, the firmware that allows a phone or other device to function.

Open Source: Software that permits the users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.

OTA: (Over the Air). The act of downloading data to your phone without having to plug it in. Most Android system updates are OTA, as are application downloads.







RAM: (Random Access Memory). The part of your phone’s hardware that supplies the “oomph” to run all those calculations needed to make calls, run apps, take pictures and play games.

Reset (hard, soft): Rebooting the phone. A soft reset is turning your phone off and on, or pulling the battery. A hard reset, also referred to as a factory reset, wipes your personal information from the device.

ROM: (Read Only Memory.) In Android, it’s what you load for a major software update. “Custom ROMs” are developed outside control of a manufacturer or carrier.

Recovery Mode: Separate operating mode you can boot your device into, used for device administration.

Root: Unlocking the operating system to allow deeper access to the OS and programs than is allowed out of the box. This is like having Admin access on a desktop computer.


SD card (or microSD card): Small, removeable drive that expands the available storage memory on your device. Used by applications to store data, and by users for photos, music, ringtones, etc.

SIM card: Small card used in GSM phones (AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, etc.) that connects the phone to the network.



Tegra 2: NVIDIA’s “System on a chip” that features dual-core processors, a powerful graphics processor and other acts of awesomeness.

Tegra 3: NVIDIA’s quad-core system on a chip.

Tethering: The act of using your smartphone’s data to provide Internet access to another device, such as a laptop. Can be done wirelessly, or via a USB xable.

TouchWiz: Samsung’s custom user interface.




USB: (Universal Serial Bus.) USB cables connect devices to a computer. Most smartphones now use microUSB cables to charge and sync.

Vanilla: Term used to describe stock Android, without any manufacturer or carrier modifications or additions.

Widget: A slice or certain view of an application that can be placed on one of your homescreens, for quick and easy access.

Wipe: To completely erase a device.


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