• 2G – Refers to the second-generation of cellular telephone technology. 2G networks offer digitally encrypted phone conversations, while being the first to offer SMS messaging. The Internet speed one would receive on 2G has since been surpassed by its predecessors.
  • 3G – Refers to the third-generation of cellular telephone technology. 3G surpasses 2G in speed, while offering high data speeds and video calling.
  • 4G – Refers to the fourth-generation of cellular telephone technology. 4G provides ultra-broadband Internet access to mobile devices.


  • Airplane mode – When this mode is enabled, it turns off all radio connectivity off in your phone. It’s pretty common that airlines will make you turn off your phone, but just switching Airplane Mode on will usually suffice.
  • AMOLED – (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) (see OLED) Display technology that consumes much less power than OLED.
  • Android – An operating system that is based on Linux, designed mostly for touchscreen devices. Google bought this OS from Android, Inc. in 2005, and has since developed it into phones, tablets, glasses, and smartwatches.
  • Android version – A notable upgrade to the Android operating system.The releases follow alphabetical order and are named after confectionary treats.
  • Android Wear – A version of Android built specifically for wearable technology.
  • API – (Application Programming Interface) A set of rules and routines for building software applications.
  • Application – (App) A piece of software that is designed to run of mobile devices.
  • App Drawer – (App tray) The designated screen for all applications that are installed on your Android device.


  • Bloatware – Software that comes pre-installed on a mobile device, usually taking up a large amount of memory. Much of the time, these applications cannot be deleted from the device.
  • Bluetooth – Short-distance, wireless technology that connects electronic devices.


  • CDMA – (Code-Division Multiple Access) One of the two major radio systems in the US. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular are the most notable CDMA carriers.
  • CPU – (Central Processing Unit) Most commonly referred to as the processor, think of the CPU as the brains of the device.
  • Cupcake (Android 1.5) – The Android version that brought support for widgets and folders on homescreens, stereo Bluetooth, video recording/playback, and copy/paste in web browser. Most notably remembered for debuting on the T-Mobile G1, the very first Android handset.


  • Developers – A person who creates software, hardware, and everything in between.
  • Donut (Android 1.6) – The Android version that brought an updated camera interface, a quick search box, updated camcorder and gallery, a battery usage indicator, text-to-speech, and a new version of the Android Market (now Google Play Store).


  • Eclair (Android 2.0) – The Android version that brought support for multiple accounts, Google Maps Navigator (beta), updated browser, improved keyboard, and support for Exchange accounts.
  • EDGE – (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) A data system used with GSM networks. It is considered fast enough to market as 3G, but it is technically 2.75G.


  • Factory data reset – (hard reset) A complete information wipe of the device. This is usually used if a device is acting particularly buggy. Take note: If the data on the device is not backed up, all of the information will be lost.
  • Firmware – Software that is embedded into hardware. The easiest way to think of it is the software that is specific to your device.
  • Froyo (Android 2.2) – The Android version that brought support for push notifications, Adobe Flash, multiple keyboard languages, portable hotspots, Exchange and Android Market improvements, and performance improvements.


  • Gigabyte (GB) – Unit of information storage. 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes, or more commonly, 1024MB (megabytes)
  • Gingerbread (Android 2.3) – The Android version that brought an updated UI, NFC, faster text input, enhanced copy/paste, and native support for SIP VOIP.
  • Google Now – A personal assistant developed by Google, available through the Google Search app.
  • Google Play Store – (formerly Android Market) The official marketplace for downloading apps, movies, music, games, books, and magazines on Android devices.
  • GSM – (Global System for Mobile communication) One of the two major radio systems in the US. T-Mobile and AT&T are the most notable GSM carriers.


  • Hardware – The physical components of the device.
  • Honeycomb (Android 3.0) – The Android version that brought a new holographic (holo) UI designed for tablets, redesigned keyboard, improved multitasking, addition of a navigation bar, and better copy/paste functionality.


  • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) – The Android version that brought face unlock, improved multitasking, Android Beam, resizable widgets, improved text and speech input, and the ability for soft keys to replace hardware keys. This is the biggest and most notable UI update on an Android handset to date.
  • IMEI – A 14-16 serial number that identifies your device.
  • Internal storage – (on-board storage) Storage that comes on the device.


  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) – The Android version that brought expandable notifications, Google Now, performance improvements via Project Butter, multiple profiles for tablets, smart widget placement, lock screen widgets, daydream mode, Bluetooth Smart Ready, and restricted profiles on tablets.


  • Kit Kat (Android 4.4) – The Android version that brought improved instant messaging, Immersive Mode, improved photo editing, updated UI, and support for older phones with less than 1GB RAM.


  • Launcher – The interface of your device – apps, homescreens, app drawers – everything. There are hundreds of launchers available to download for your Android device if you aren’t happy with the one on your phone.
  • Li-Ion – (Lithium Ion) A type of rechargeable battery, most commonly used in Android devices.
  • Lock screen – The screen that is shown when the user unlocks the device. Usually there is a password or some other type of security feature on this screen.
  • Lock screen widget – A widget that is shown on the devices lock screen. see also: widget
  • LTE – (Long-Term Evolution) True 4G connectivity. Many companies market their data speeds as 4G, but LTE is truly 4G.


  • Megabyte (MB) – A unit of information storage. 1MB = 1,048,576 bytes, or 1024KB (kilobytes)
  • Megapixel – A unit for measuring image resolution. 1MP = 1 million pixels
  • Memory card slot – A space on the phones hardware to insert a memory card to provide external memory.
  • Micro USB – A type of USB connector that is used to connect the device to a computer, charge the device, etc. Micro USB is the most commonly used USB type on Android devices.
  • microSD – A very small form of a memory card. Many Android devices have memory card slots, where users can insert microSD cards.
  • Model – Refers to the specific name of the device. Ex.- Galaxy S4, Nexus 5, Moto X, etc.


  • Nexus – Google’s own line of Android devices, created to show what a stock version of Android is. These are usually aimed at developers, offering low price points and are the first phones to receive updates to the operating system.
  • NFC – (Near Field Communication) Short-range data transfer communication between devices.


  • OEM – (Original Equipment Manufacturer) The company that originally manufactured the device. Popular OEMs are Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and LG.
  • OLED – (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) This has to do with the display on your phone. This technology consists of small dots of organic polymer that are lit when charged with electricity.
  • OTA – (Over-The-Air) A method of transferring data through cellular connectivity. The term is most commonly used with Android updates that send to your phone OTA.


  • Physical buttons – Hardware buttons that are used to navigate around the device. Physical buttons usually come in the form of back, home, menu, and recent apps buttons.
  • Phablet – A phone that could be considered to be a tablet. Don’t use this word.
  • Pixel – The smallest unit for measuring image resolution.



  • RAM – (Random-Access Memory) A common form of system memory occupied by the software.
  • Resolution – The number of pixels in a camera sensor or on a display.
  • Roaming – The usage of a mobile device outside the carriers coverage area.
  • ROM – (Read-Only Memory) Data storage that keeps its contents even if the device is powered off. ROM is usually used to distribute firmware.
  • Root – Gaining access to administrative commands of the operating system. Root access is a group of processes and abilities that the manufacturers don’t necessarily advise users to obtain. The outcome of some rooting procedures can make drastic differences in the devices performance.


  • SDK – (Software Development Kit) Software development tools that are used for creating applications for software packages and operating systems.
  • SIM card – A chip inside a mobile device, carrying identification numbers and information specific to the owner.
  • Skin – Software customizations for Android, created by the manufacturing company. Samsung’s Touchwiz and HTC’s Sense are two of the most popular Android skins.
  • Smartwatch – A watch that has computing functionality.
  • Software – The digital components and operating information of the device.
  • Soft keys – (on-screen buttons) Buttons that are on the devices display, usually on the bottom portion. Most of the time they are used to navigate around the device.
  • Soft reset – Restarting the device.
  • Stand-by time – The amount of time the phone is connected to a cellular network, but is not in use.



  • Unlocked – A phone that has the ability to activate on any cellular carrier.
  • User Experience (UX) – The experience that the person has while using the device.
  • User Interface (UI) – The interactive software portion of the device.



  • Wearables – Any device that has computing functionality that a user can wear.
  • Widget – An “at-a-glance” view of applications, accessible from the user’s homescreen without having to open an app.




Did we miss anything that could be helpful to a future Android user? Let us know in the comments!

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