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A Glossary Of Essential Mobile Terms

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Posted 24th March 2014 at 06:37 AM by MobiDev

Mobile development, like any other sub-field of IT, has lots of terms, which may be still obscure to you. Here we tried to select a number of terms, add our explanations to make a fun and informative read for you. Check the list so that nothing is missed.

An integrated part of a mobile device, which is used for motion sensing. It's done through measuring the force of acceleration, when the position of the device in space is being changed. Therefore it allows to implement the corresponding functionality. The examples everyone is acquainted with, is automatic switching between portrait and landscape modes on a mobile device, or measuring the speed of movement.

Augmented Reality
Augmented reality = real-world/real-time environment, where computer-generated elements (such as image, video, sound and GPS data) are added to real-life objects. This concept is yet to see its finest hour, since lots of industries and spheres can benefit from AR, from commerce, navigation and medical industry to games and entertainment.


Back-end is a very broad term, which is used to describe the part of the software that's invisible for the end user. For example, the admin panel of a website can be described as back-end, since the access is limited and out of reach for a common user. The server side of software, the logic, also belong to back-end.

Cloud Storage
For a user, cloud storage is a service that offers unlimited amounts of memory, which can be accessed from any computer or mobile device. Users pay for certain amounts of storage they utilize, which are usually offered for monthly fees. All the problems that concern hosting, scaling and maintenance of servers, are left to the provider.

Content Management System ( CMS)

Basically it's a piece of software which allows to manage the content of a website without having to spend lots of time writing HTML-code. There is an interface with an implemented workflow, which allows to configure web pages, and does not require programming skills from users. For example, it allows to run a blog, post articles, news, and manage comments.

The client part of the software, seen by the user and represented as an interface: an example can be any web page we look at, when browsing.

Expanding the functional possibilities of an iDevice in the way that's actively disliked by Apple (a jailbroken device immediately runs out of warranty). Jailbreak enables root access to the file system (instead of dealing with bundles). For users the main benefits are enabled customizability of iDevices, as well as access to the software not authorized by Apple (for example, from Cydia).

In-App Purchase / In-App Billing
In-app purchase is a means of iOS monetization, which can be implemented in apps in several ways. #1 - a user pays just once (for example, to buy the pro version of an app, to remove ads or unlock additional features). In case an app is reinstalled, the pro features can be redeemed for free. #2 - consumable purchases, when you can conduct them as many times as you wish (for example, used for selling in-game items in freemium games). #3 - subscriptions. Same goes for in-app billing, which does the same for Android.

Learn more about means of app monetization.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
A contract signed by at least two parties (for example, you and your software contractor), which describes the confidential information that the two parties agree to share with each other. For any third party this information must be kept closed. The safety of your ideas, confidential business data, and trade secrets is protected with this document.

Near Field Communication (NFC)
A technology that establishes wireless connection between gadgets and allows to exchange data without the Internet. From a user's perspective it's simply done by bringing devices close to each other. Although it is yet to have its time in the mobile world (for example, Apple hasn't bothered about it yet), NFC is already seen and used as a means of implementing contactless mobile payments.

PhoneGap is basically a wrapper of JavaScript/HTML-written apps, which gain access to native device capabilities: accelerometer, camera, contacts etc. PhoneGap apps can be adjusted to run on such platforms as iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, webOS, Symbian, and Tizen.

Learn more about making fast and responsive PhoneGap apps.

Quality Assurance (QA)
Everybody needs and expects to receive bug-free software. For the owner the purpose is the software that is loved by users. It needs to be checked throughout numerous usage scenarios, which can be a hard labor even for an app that consists of a couple of screens. Developers physically cannot do it, so there must be specialists (QA engineers), who test the software before sending it to the owner. QA is a part of software development that takes care of quality by preventing bugs; testing aims at finding bugs before users do.

Responsive Web Design
A responsive web page changes the position of its content depending on the width of the screen it's viewed with. It can be done through content adaptation, fluid grids, and flexible images. On a laptop screen we see a great big website with all the menus and controls. On smaller screen widths (on mobile devices) elements can rearrange their position or be left out for better visual representation for users. The most crucial elements must be shown in the first place.

Learn more about responsive websites for your business.

Software Development Kit (SDK)
A toolkit for building apps, which offers specialized tools to maximize the efficiency of development for a special platform. An SDK is usually written for a certain programming language. For example, there is iOS SDK, which streamlines implementing native features of mobile devices in apps, so that the developer doesn't have to spend time writing the code that's ready inside. There are also SDKs for major social networks (Facebook, Twitter), which allows to integrate them into an app.

User Interface (UI)
The client part of an app, which allows the user to interact with the server part, basically control elements that allow to interact with the system. UI can be described as a system of interaction, presented in text, graphic, and sound. Creating UI design is the best way to start software development with. Visual presentation of an app interface can be created as a mockup, a wireframe, or a prototype.

User Experience (UX)
Do not confuse with UI; the interface itself just goes side by side with a broader term 'user experience', which encompasses users' behaviors and perceptions of a product or a service in the process of usage. The user forms a behavior model towards the use of a system (an app, for example), and the acquired experience will be expected in the use of other systems.

We hope these explanations will come in handy and clarify anything you might not have known before. And if you like it, we'll be glad to pick more mobile terms for the next issue of our glossary.
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  1. New Comment
    Nile Vincent's Avatar
    Now here is something that's seriously useful these days...understanding the mobile terms...

    Hell, if you can't can't buy intelligently
    and save at the same time...this is a very timely post...Thanks!
    Posted 24th March 2014 at 07:31 AM by Nile Vincent Nile Vincent is offline
  2. New Comment
    MobiDev's Avatar
    Thanks for your feedback Nile!
    Posted 26th March 2014 at 07:18 AM by MobiDev MobiDev is offline

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