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The Official Android Dictionary A-Z

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Cyber Warrior
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Posted May 18 '13 @ 5:35 AM

The Official Android Dictionary A-Z
If you're new to Android, you are likely seeing a lot of unfamiliar words being thrown about... from CID to RUU to ROM. This dictionary will help you understand what these words actually mean, and when you would expect to see them.

  • ADB: Android Debug Bridge. A tool used to connect and sends commands to your Android phone from a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Alpha: used to describe very unstable software (of any kind); not for daily use; usually followed by a beta stage.
  • AMOLED: Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. Basically, a very colorful, bright, display found in some smartphones.
  • Android: Google’s open-source mobile operating system. It’s used primarily in smartphones but also can be found on tablets, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) or even in kitchen appliances and automobile navigation.
  • Android Market: The original name for Google’s repository for Android applications. Rebranded in March 2012 to Google Play.
  • ANR: Application Not Responding; when Android provides a dialog to the user that has the option to wait or force close the application; usually caused by a developer doing time-consuming tasks in the UI thread rather than a background thread, service, or AsyncTask
  • AOKP: The Android Open Kang Project. A group that takes the open-source Android code and compiles it with other customizations for multiple devices.
  • AOSP: The Android Open Source Project. When you hear about Android being “open source,” this is what we’re talking about. It’s a repository of the code released by Google, which can be downloaded and compiled by anyone. (If you know how.)
  • .apk: The file extension of an Android application.
  • Apps: Short for “applications.” The programs you download and run on a smartphone. Can be free, or for sale.
  • Beta: not ideal for daily use, but relatively stable software; usually the last testing stage before release.
  • Bloat(ware): Applications — usually unwanted — that are preloaded onto a device. It’s a bit subjective as to what constitutes bloatware, and the flip side is that these applications are what allow carriers to sell phones and tablets at subsidized prices.
  • Bluetooth: A short-range radio build into smartphones that lets you connect headsets, speakerphones or even computers to your smartphone.
  • Bootloader: An internal mode on a phone that helps in the flashing of ROMs and other behind-the scenes actions.
  • Boot loop: when a device is unable to boot completely, and constantly reboots itself; usually caused by stale caches (wipe data partition) or init script errors.
  • Brick: when a device is rendered useless; sometimes referred to as "paperweight"; see also: "soft brick"
  • Bug: an error or flaw in software resulting in unintended behavior.
  • Busybox: a single multicall binary that packages the functionality of most widely used standard Unix tools.
  • 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.
  • CES: North America’s largest consumer electronics show, held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
  • ClockWorkMod Recovery (CWM): a modification of the standard Android recovery; see also: "Custom recovery"
  • Command line: In Windows, it’s a DOS prompt or Command Prompt. In Linux or Mac, it’s Terminal.
  • Cook: a developer who uses a kitchen to create their ROMs.
  • Cupcake: Android 1.5
  • Custom Recovery: a replacement for the stock Android recovery; provides the ability to perform nandroid backups and restores, flash ROMs, wipe partitions, partition SD cards, etc;
  • CyanogenMod (CM): an AOSP derivative that provides functionality, usability, security, and overall performance upgrades to the standard Android stack
  • Dalvik Cache: Writable cache that contains the optimized bytecode of all apk files (apps) on your Android device. Having the information in it’s own cache makes applications load faster and perform better.
  • De-odex: the removal of "odex" files in a ROM; this is usually done for theming you need to deodex everything.
  • Developer: An individual that creates, or alters a file in such a manner as to advance the program
  • DLNA: Dynamic Living Network Alliance. A method for wirelessly streaming photos and videos from your smartphone to your TV.
  • Donut: Android 1.6.
  • Early Termination Fee: Also known as an ETF, it’s what a carrier chargers you to break out of your contract. Usually are prorated.
  • Eclair: Android 2.0-2.1.
  • EOL: Stands for “End of Life.” Means a carrier or manufacturer is phasing out a particular product. It does not necessarily mean that phone or tablet is bad, nor will anyone come and take your EOL’d device away from you.
  • ETF: Stands for Early Termination Fee. What you have to pay to get out of your contract with a carrier.
  • Fastboot: Another mode akin to the bootloader, from which you can manually flash low-level components onto a phone. 
  • FC: Short for “force close,” meaning an app that has crashed.
  • Firmware: the software running on and operating a device.
  • Flash: writing data to disk; synonymous with install in most cases; ex: "flash this ROM", "flash the boot.img"
  • Froyo: Android 2.2.
  • Galaxy Nexus: The first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich device. Made by Samsung.
  • Geotagging: Wherein in your phone finds your location via GPS and attaches coordinates to pictures you’re taking. Can be a privacy/security concern.
  • Gingerbread: Android 2.3. Mostly a behind-the-scenes update, though there are some UI tweaks.
  • Gmail: Google’s web-based e-mail service.
  • Google: Leading Internet search engine, founded in 1998. Owners of Android.
  • Google Keep: A note taking services by Google that helps you make simple notes, photographic notes, and lists.
  • Google Now: An enhanced, location-aware section within the Jelly Bean Google search app. Offers timely info, such as weather updates, transit times and locations, photo spots and travel times when out and about.
  • Google Play: Google’s one-stop online shop for movies, music, apps, games and books. At the time of its launch on March 6, 2012, it basically was a rebranded Android Market.
  • Google TV: Announced at the Google IO conference in May 2010, it’s a combination of hardware and Android that features a full web browser, Android applications, and combines it with video that’s available online — Youtube, television, etc.
  • Google Wallet: Google’s attempt at a mobile payment system based on NFC. Wallet has also come to encompass Google’s online payment system used in Google Play.
  • Gorilla Glass: A scratch-resistant glass product from Corning used on a number of smartphones and tablets.
  • GPS: Stands for Global Positioning System. Uses a constellation of satellites in space to find your location on the ground.
  • GSM: One of two major standard for cell phone communications. Is used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States, and by the majority of carriers worldwide.
  • Hack (Hacking): Modifying the Android system to add customization, features, or bypass carrier and manufacturer restrictions.
  • 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. The first version of Android designed with tablets specifically in mind. Allows apps to “fragment” or split over a single screen. Is the first Android version to fully support dual-core processors.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: Android 4.0
  • IMEI: Stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. Basically a unique identification number assigned to every phone.
  • IPS: Stands for “in-plane switching.” Gives better viewing angles and better color reproduction. First gained popularity in Apple displays, then made its way to mobile devices.
  • Jelly Bean: The dessert name given to Android 4.1-4.2. Includes new features like Google Now and Project Butter.
  • JIT: The Just-in-Time Compiler. Released with Android 2.2, it's a method of greatly speeding up apps in Android on the software side.
  • Kang: the re-branding of another developer's work without their permission; such a person can be described as a "kanger"
  • Kernel: The essential component to any CPU. This is the program that has total control of how the system operates. It is what controls the timing and order of when the commands are executed, and also to make sure they do not interfere with each other. It also controls managing memory, process and file execution.
  • Keyboard: Either “physical” or “on-screen,” depending on the phone.
  • Kitchen: an application that provides a ROM "cook" with a user friendly interface for "cooking" their ROMs.
  • Launcher: Collectively, the part of the Android user interface on home screens that lets you launch apps, make phone calls, etc. Is built in to Android, or can be purchased in the Android Market.
  • Linux: An open source variant of Unix that is used as the underlying system on Android devices.
  • Live wallpapers: Animated wallpapers introduced in Android 2.1.
  • LTE: Stands for “Long-Term Evolution.” Is considered to be one of the “true” methods of 4G data.
  • Lock Screen: The first screen you’ll see when opening up your Android phone or tablet that has some sort of lock before you can enter your home screens. You can either set up a slide, face, pin, pattern or password unlock.
  • Manufacturer: A company that physically builds cell phones.
  • Mobile World Congress (MWC): A European wireless industry trade show, held in Barcelona, Spain.
  • Mod: to modify or to make modifications to; someone can mod a stock firmware and turn it into a custom one, or someone can mod another developer's work
  • Motorola: Manufacturer of smartphones and other hand-held wireless devices.
  • MTP: Stands for Media Transfer Protocol. Designed by Microsoft, and used by devices that have a single, unpartitioned storage structure to transfer files to and from a computer.
  • Nand: 'Nandroid or Nandroid Backup:' A file typically created in the custom recovery program, such as SPRecovery, that is a carbon copy of whatever state your phone is in before a drastic change is made. the file then can be moved onto or off of the SD card for later use in case something should go wrong in the ROM or Update, or a Boot Loop occurs.
  • Nexus: A line of smartphones created in conjunction with Google. Also known as “Pure Google” devices. Generally are the first to launch with major updates to Android, as well as the first to receive updates.
  • NFC: Near-field communication. Short-range communication between your phone and something else — another phone, a cash register, etc. Used by some credit cards as a method of quick payment.
  • OEM: Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Usually a company that produces a component or entire device for another company.
  • Odex: APKs contain certain .odex files whose supposed function is to save space.
  • Open GL: An open source 3D graphics library used in many devices, including Android devices
  • Open Source: Software which is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.
  • OS: Operating system, I.E. Windows Vista or MAC or ANDROID
  • OTA: Stands for Over the Air. The act of moving data to your phone — downloading, really — without having to plug it in. Most Android system updates are OTA, as are application downloads.
  • Overclock: the ability to override the factory cpu speed. In essence, it will make the device run faster, but has several drawbacks if not used correctly. IE...overheating, permanent damage to cpu, etc...
  • Overlay: a manufacturer's custom skin for Android (usually includes alternate versions of regular apps as well); ex: HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, Motorola MotoBlur
  • PenTile: A subpixel layout scheme, patented by Samsung, that allows greater luminance at a lower power draw. 
  • PIN: Stands for Personal Identification Number. Often four digits.
  • Pixel: An individual dot on the display. Also a way to measure the resolution of a camera (usually in millions of pixels). Pixels usually are made up of sub-pixels. The arrangement of those sub-pixels affects the way you see images and text.
  • PPI: Pixels per inch. How we determine a display’s “pixel density.” The more pixels in a display, the better graphics and text look.
  • PRL: The Preferred Roaming List, basically a way of telling your phone which towers to connect to first.
  • Project Butter: Software enhancements introduced in Android 4.1 to improve the smoothness of on-screen transitions and animations. Project Butter uses software tricks like vertical sync (vsync) and triple-buffering to display a smooth, consistent frame rate throughout the UI.
  • QR code: A black-and-white barcode that, when scanned by your phone, can open a web link, point to an application in the Market, etc.
  • Radio: the GSM/CDMA radio of the phone, responsible for sending and receiving calls and text messages; also related to 4G/3G/2G data transmission.
  • Reset: The rebooting of the phone. A soft reset is turning your phone off and on, or pulling the battery. A hard reset also is referred to as a factory reset, and wipes your personal information from the device.
  • Resolution: The term used to describe how many individual pixels are in a display. A common phone resolution is 720×1280, or 720 pixels in the short dimension, with 1280 in the long dimension. The more pixels you have in a display, the better the pixels per inch (ppi), making text and images more crisp.
  • RIL: acronym for Radio Interface Layer; the layer of the Android OS that handles communications with the radio.
  • ROM: Literally, “Read Only Memory.” In Android, it’s what you load for a major software update. “Custom ROMs” are just that — developed outside control of a manufacturer or carrier.
  • Recovery Mode: A small separate operating mode you can boot your device into, used for device administration.
  • Root: A method of unlocking the Android operating system to allow deeper programs deeper access than is allowed out of the box.
  • Samsung: A Korean electronics company. Manufacturer of the Galaxy S series of Android phones, among others.
  • SD card (or microSD card): A small plastic “card” that expands the available storage memory on your phone. Used by applications to store data, and you can store ringtones, pictures, etc., on it.
  • SDK: Stands for Software Development Kit. Generally, a set of tools used to create software for a certain platform following guidelines provided in the kit. For Android, the SDK provides tools to create applications that run on Android devices.
  • Sense: A custom user interface (or skin) on top of Android. Exclusive to HTC smartphones.
  • Services: Portions of code that run in the background to provide content and services to applications.
  • Sideload: The act of installing an app outside of the The Play Store.
  • Shell or SSH: secure shell or ssh is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices.
  • SIM card: The little card used in GSM phones that connects the phone to the network.
  • Soft reset: The act of rebooting your phone, whether intentionally or otherwise. Same effect as when you remove and replace the battery.
  • S-OFF/S-ON: This refers to an unlocked/locked NAND drive. HTC lock the NAND on some phones to prevent writing to the /system. S-OFF can generally be obtained by an exploit, by flashing an engineering SPL, or by using an XTC Clip. 
  • Sprint: One of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • Stock: Simply means an unaltered state, such as when you first purchase your phone, or when you do a factory reset.
  • Super AMOLED: A generation ahead of AMOLED displays. Lighter, more power-efficient and less reflective than AMOLED. 
  • Super AMOLED Plus: Instead of eight subpixels per pixel, there are 12.
  • Superuser: On many computer operating systems, the superuser, or root, is a special user account used for system administration.
  • T-Mobile: One of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • 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 cable.
  • Theme: A set of icons, backgrounds and app trays that change the ascthetics of the overall look of the device and its applications.
  • TouchWiz: Samsung’s custom user interface. Born from Windows Mobile and made much better with the Galaxy S line.
  • Underclocking: Slowing down the CPU mainly to limit battery usage
  • USB: Stands for Universal Serial Bus. Is a method of connecting devices to a computer. Most smartphones now use microUSB cables to charge and sync.
  • USB OTG: USB On The GO is a specification that allows USB devices such as digital audio players or mobile phones to act as a host, allowing other USB devices like a USB flash drive, mouse, or keyboard to be attached to them.
  • Vanilla: A term used to describe stock Android.
  • Verizon: One of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • 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.
  • World phone: A phone that works on CDMA networks as well as GSM networks outside of the home country.
  • YouTube: Google’s web-based streaming video service. Accessible from an Android phone.
  • Zipalign: an archive alignment tool that provides important optimization to Android application (.apk) files. The purpose is to ensure that all uncompressed data starts with a particular alignment relative to the start of the file. Specifically, it causes all uncompressed data within the .apk, such as images or raw files, to be aligned on 4-byte boundaries. The benefit is a reduction in the amount of RAM consumed when running the application.


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