To those new to the mobile world, some of the jargon and terminology used by a lot of tech journalists can tend to be just a touch overwhelming, can’t it? In a lot of cases, I’m sure many of you are left completely in the dark as to what a blogger’s on about when they spout lingo like “Bootloader” or “sideloading.”
Here’s a short list of terminology related to the Android ecosystem(operating system environment, basically) put into layman’s terms, so that next time, you’ll actually know what the techies are talking about.
API: API stands for Application Platform Interface. Basically, it’s what all developers are going to need to initially develop software for any platform. You’ll need the Android API to develop for Android, just as you’ll need the iOS API to develop an application for an iPhone. The best comparison I’ve seen involves the specifications of the electrical wiring in a house – that’s basically what the API is. As long as you know how to hook something up to this wiring, it can generally be used.
ADK: This stands for Android Development Kit. Basically, this is another term for “Software Developer’s Kit.” While the API is used to develop an application, the ADK/SDK is used to implement an application onto an operating system. Truth be told, you don’t really even need the ADK/SDK to implement files onto Android; it just makes the process a lot simpler to do. The ADK basically gives instructions on how to build custom devices to hook up to the wiring system.
App: Just stands for application. Basically, any software installed on your smartphone that isn’t part of the core operating system.
Sideloading: Sideloading involves uploading data to your smartphone via an avenue that’s separate from the creators. For example, loading music from your computer to your phone would technically be considered sideloading, as would installing an application from a source that isn’t the Android marketplace.
Bootloader: A bootloader is the software on a phone which loads the core operating system. Consequently, to ‘unlock’ a bootloader means you’re allowing users to modify what files the booatloader opens. That’ll allow you to sideload a different operating system onto your phone.
Bricked: Any time you root your phone, you risk doing this. Basically, a bricked phone, or “brick” is one that’s stopped working for whatever reason- usually because someone loaded something onto it that they weren’t supposed to; something that completely borked the phone’s operation.
Open-Source: Open-source means available to the community to edit and distribute as they see fit. Generally, open-source software is not only free, but put together through a collaborative effort. Some builds of Android are open source.
“Build”: A build of Android simply refers to one of the various Android version out there- for example, Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the latest build for Android smartphones.
APK: A common archive format in Android that’s used to install certain software elements onto a phone. If you’re wondering what an archive is, think .zip or .rar files. Most file archiving software can open and inspect .apk archives.
Overclocking/Underclocking: Overclocking means you’re putting more stress on your CPU than it was originally configured to receive in order to increase performance. Some mobile phone CPUs allow for overclocking, others do not. Consequently, to underclock a CPU is to reduce performance below factory settings in order to preserve battery life. Basically, you’re making your system either overperform or underperform.
Root: A term that means you’re breaking through the initial protections that your manufacturer put on your phone in order to give yourself “super user” privileges which include accessing the phone’s programming and changing various aspects related to its operation that would otherwise be impossible to modify. This term is synonymous with “jailbreaking” an iPhone. If you want to install a custom build of Android, you’re going to have to root your phone- though some phones feature an unlocked bootloader that allow you to do this. It’s like, say…using a ruled notebook as an artbook, I suppose.
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