The Android Dictionary


from AndroidCentral
A glossary of Android terms

If you’re new to Android, you might find yourself wondering exactly what we’re talking about from time to time. As such, here’s a glossary of terms you’re likely to run across. (Are we missing something? Let us know here!)



  • Acclaim: A mid-range Samsung phone on U.S. Cellular.
  • ADB: Android Debug Bridge. A tool used to connect and sends commands to your Android phone from a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Ally: A mid-range Android phone made by LG for Verizon.
  • Amon Ra: Developer of a custom recovery mode for Android.
  • 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: Google’s repository for Android applications. Features more than 70,000 apps (as of July 2010). Many of the apps are free.
  • Android Sideload Wonder Machine: A simple program for Windows or Linux and Mac that lets you easily sideload applications.
  • Andy Rubin: Vice President of Engineering at Google, overseeing project strategy and development of Android. Founder of Danger, which created the Sidekick and was later bought by Microsoft.
  • .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.
  • App Inventor: Google’s web-based system by which Android applications can be made without having to know how to code.
  • Apps2SD: An unapproved method of storing applications on the device’s microSD card. An official method is included in Android 2.2.
  • AT&T: One of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • Aria: A 3.2-inch touchscreen phone made by HTC, with Android 2.1 and HTC Sense.

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  • Backflip: An odd little phone from Motorola that featured a backward-flipping camera. Has the distinction of being the first U.S. smartphone with a front-facing camera. Was the first Android phone on AT&T.
  • Bootloader: An internal mode on a phone that helps in the flashing of ROMs and other behind-the scenes actions.

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  • Captivate: AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S.
  • 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)
  • CES: North America’s largest consumer electronics show, held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
  • Clockwork: Developer of the ClockworkMod custom recovery mode for Android.
  • CTIA: A bi-annual U.S. convention of the wireless industry.
  • Cupcake: Android 1.5.
  • Cyanogen: The online handle of one Steve Kondik, relatively famous in the hacking and modding community and the creator of the CyanogenMod series of ROMs.

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  • Desire: An HTC phone announced in February 2010; basically the Nexus One with the Sense user interface.
  • Devour: A mid-range Motorola phone for Verizon with a sliding keyboard and Motoblur.
  • Donut: Android 1.6
  • Dream: See G1.
  • Droid: An extremely popular horizontal slider made by Motorola on the Verizon network. The first to run Android 2.0 (and Android 2.0.1). Is currently running Android 2.1. Also the name for a line of Verizon Android phones.
  • Droid Eris: Manufactured by HTC for Verizon, was one of the first phones to run the HTC "Sense" user interface. Currently is end-of-life. U.S. version of the Hero.
  • Droid Incredible: Manufactured by HTC for Verizon. Featured an AMOLED screen, which later led to shortages.
  • Droid X: Motorola’s 4.3-inch touchscreen only phone, announced in June 2010 for a July launch on Verizon.

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  • Early Termination Fee: Also known as an ETF, it’s what a carrier chargers you to break out of your contract. Usually are prorated.
  • Earth: Mostly harmless.
  • Eclair: Android 2.0-2.1.
  • Epic 4G: Sprint’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S. Has 4G data and a horizontal sliding keyboard.
  • Evo 4G: Sprint’s 4.3-inch Android phone manufactured by HTC with the Sense interface and 4G capability.

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  • Fascinate: Verizon’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S.
  • Fastboot: Another mode akin to the bootloader, from which you can manually flash low-level components onto a phone.
  • Froyo: Android 2.2. Announced at Google IO in May 2010, first released onto the Nexus One.

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  • G1: The very first Android smartphone. Manufactured by HTC for T-Mobile. Released elsewhere as the HTC Dream.
  • Galaxy S: A high-end series of smartphones from Samsung. Announced in March 2010 at CTIA, they include the T-Mobile Vibrant, Verizon Fascinate, AT&T Captivate and Sprint Epic 4G.
  • Gingerbread: The rumored name for Android 3.0.
  • Google: Our benevolent overlord, and owner of Android.
  • 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. (See also CDMA)

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  • Hack (Hacking): Modifying the Android system to add customization, features, or bypass carrier and manufacturer restrictions. See root.
  • Hero: An HTC phone released as the Droid Eris on Verizon. Also known as the G2.
  • HTC: A Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer. And a darn good one.

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  • i1: A mid-range Motorola smartphone with Android 1.6 and the push-to-talk system.
  • Incredible: See Droid Incredible.

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  • 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.

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  • Kernel: The basic Linux building block of Android. It’s what lets your phone do its thing.
  • Keyboard: Either "physical" or "on-screen," depending on the phone.

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  • Legend: HTC’s aluminum unibody phone with Android 2.1 and Sense.
  • LG: A Korean electronics and smartphone manufacturer.
  • Linux: An open source variant of Unix that is used as the underlying system on Android devices

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  • Magic: See myTouch 3G.
  • Manufacturer: A company that physically builds cell phones.
  • Mobile World Congress (MWC): A European wireless industry trade show, held in Barcelona, Spain, the past few years.
  • Moment: A mid-range Samsung phone that has data lock-up and is forgotten about by everyone except sdx-developers. (definition via @chibucks)
  • Motorola: Manufacturer of smartphones and other hand-held wireless devices.
  • Motoblur: Motorola’s custom Android interface. Heavy on widgets and social networking, low on sophistication.
  • myTouch 3G: The U.S. version of the HTC Magic. Specifically, the T-Mobile branded version. Also came in a limited edition branded by the Fender guitar company.
  • myTouch 3G Slide: A followup to the myTouch 3G, featuring a horizontal sliding keyboard and an updated version of the HTC Sense user interface.

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  • Nexus One: The "Google phone." Initially sold only at Was the first Android phone with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and Android 2.1.

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  • OEM: Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Usually a company that produces a component or entire device for another company. (Example: HTC was the OEM for the Google Nexus One.)
  • 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.
  • 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.

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  • PRL: The Preferred Roaming List, basically a way of telling your phone which towers to connect to first.

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  • Q:uit asking us when your phone will be updated.
  • 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.

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  • Recovery Mode: A small separate operating mode you can boot your device into, used for device administration. Two popular custom recovery modes are Amon Ra and Clockwork.
  • Root: A method of unlocking the Android operating system to allow deeper programs deeper access than is allowed out of the box. (For more on root, click here.)
  • Root (SD card): The base folder (or top level) of the card. Often referred to as /sdcard in a file structure.
  • RTFM: Read the (ahem) friggin’ manual.

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  • 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.
  • 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 Android Market. AT&T (tries to) prohibit its phones from doing this.
  • Sideload Wonder Machine: A simple open-source program that lets you sideload apps via computer, bypassing any restrictions a carrier might have put in place.
  • Sony Ericsson: A joint wireless venture from Sony and Ericsson.
  • Sprint: One of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • Streak: Dell’s 5-inch tablet/MID device. Launching with Android 1.6.

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  • T-Mobile: One of the four major U.S. carriers. Had the very first Android phone, the G1.
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Verizon: One of the four major U.S. carriers. Launched the "Droid" line of phones.
  • Vibrant: T-Mobile’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S.

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

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  • Xperia: A line of phones by Sony Ericsson, including the X10, X10 Mini, X10 Mini Pro and X8.
  • YouTube: Google’s web-based streaming video service. Accessible from an Android phone.

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Permanant Link for Updated Dictionary


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