Official AndroidGuys Glossary

We’re well aware that many of our visitors will not be up to speed on all of the jargon being thrown around in articles, opinions, and comments. We’ve take the time to put together a glossary of terms we feel are essential to know when it comes to Android and the Open Handset Alliance. While nowhere near complete, this is a perfect jumping off point. If you feel there is a vital omission, please fee free to contact us!

2G – 2nd generation wireless technology standards that are digital instead of analog. Offers both data and voice.

3G – 3rd generation wireless technology which includes high data speeds, an always-on data access stream, and voice capacity superior to the first two generations (1G & 2G).

4G – 4th generation technology which ultimately will be able to provide voice, data and streamed multimedia to users on an “Anytime, Anywhere” basis, and at higher data rates than current generations are allowing. Objectives for 4G include wired and wireless technologies capable of providing 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s speeds both indoors and outdoors.Android – Open source mobile phone platform based on the Linux operating system, developed by the Open Handset Alliance Announced November 5th, 2007

API – Acronym for Application Programming Interface. A source code interface that an operating system provides to support requests for services to be made of it by computer programs.

EV-DO – CDMA standard for 3G. EV-DO is an acronym for “EVolution, Data-Only”, but can also be referred to as “EVolution, Data-Optimized”. Provides data rates over 10 times faster than previous technology for CDMA networks.

EDGE – GSM/GPRS service that triples data rates over standard GPRS. EDGE phones will automatically switch between EDGE and the slower GPRS depending on whether or not the faster service is available.

GMail – Google Mail is a free Web-based email service provided by GoogleReleased on April 1, 2004 as a private beta release by invitation only and was opened to all as a public beta on February 7, 2007. Although the initial storage capacity was only 1 GB, it drastically increased the standard for free storage as it currently offers over 6GB as of January 1, 2008.

Google Maps – Free web mapping service application and technology provided by Google. Offers street maps, a route planner, and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the world. Can generate driving directions between any pair of locations. It shows turn-by-turn instructions, an estimate of the trip time, and the distance between the two locations.

GPRS – General Packet Radio Service. Service available to users of GSM mobile phones. Data transfer is typically charged on a ‘per kilobyte’ basis. GPRS can be used for services such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) access, text messaging (SMS), picture messaging (MMS), and email and internet access.

GPS – Global Positioning System utilizes a constellation of at least 24 medium Earth orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals. A GPS receiver can determine its location, speed, direction, and time. Managed by the US Air Force, GPS has become an aid for navigation and a tool for map-making, land surveying, and other scientific uses.

GSM – Most popular standard used by mobile phones in the world. It is estimated that 82% of the global mobile market uses GSM. The primary advantage of GSM systems over other mobile technologies is that it has better voice quality and low-cost alternatives to making calls. Network providers are able to offer worldwide roaming as it is practically a standard in Europe.

LTE – Long-Term Evolution is the current effort to develop advanced wireless mobile radio technology that will succeed current 3G WCDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA technology. Considered by many to be “4G” technology.

Linux – One of the most prominent examples of free software and open source development. The source code can be freely modified, used, and redistributed by virtually anyone.

Open Handset Alliance (OHA) – Comprised of 34 members and led by Google. Includes mobile handset makers, application developers, mobile carriers as well as chip makers.

Open Source – Set of principles and practices promoting access to the source code of software that is available to the general public. Typically having relaxed or non-existent intellectual restrictions on property. Allows users to create software through individual effort or through collaboration.

SDK – Acronym for Software Developer Kit. Typically a set of development tools that allows a software engineer to create applications (API’s) for a software framework, hardware platform, computer system, or operating system. In this case, the framework is Android.

Smartphone – Mobile phone offering advanced capabilities beyond a typical mobile phone. Typically will have PC-like functionality. Although there is not an industry standard definition of a smartphone, for some, it is a phone that runs complete operating system software providing a standardized interface and/or a platform for software developers. For other people, a smartphone could simply be a phone with advanced features.

UI – Acronym for User Interface. The means by which people interact with a particular machine, device, or computer. The user interface provides means of input and output.

UMA – Unlicensed Mobile Access Provides access to voice and data services over unlicensed spectrum technologies like Wi-Fi or BlueTooth. UMA phones automatically switch between cellular networks and local networks when in range. VOIP – Voice over Internet Protocol is a protocol optimized for the transmission of voice through the Internet or other packet switched networks. Also known as IP Telephony, Internet telephony, Broadband telephony, Broadband Phone and Voice over Broadband.

WiMax– WiMax is the trade name for a family of new technologies related to the IEEE 802.16 wireless standards. Has the potential for very long range (up to 30 miles) and high speeds. The first versions were based on 802.16a wireless technology and designed for fixed applications only. Newer versions designed around mobility could make this a potential competitor for some 3G or 4G technologies.


China Mobile (CMCC) is the largest mobile phone operator in China. Based on subscribers, it is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with nearly 350 million customers.

KDDI Corporation – Japanese telecommunication operator. They prove mobile cellular services, ISP network and solution services, long-distance and international voice and data communications services, optical fiber, and ADSL broadband services.

NTT DoCoMo, Inc. – The largest mobile phone operator in Japan. They provide 2G cellular services in 800 MHz and 1.5 GHz bands as well as 3G W-CDMA services in the 2 GHz band. They also offer paging, satellite services, video phone, internet), mail, and SMS services.

Sprint Nextel – The third largest telecommunications company in the US with 55 million subscribers. They also operate the second largest wireless broadband network and the third largest long distance provider in the United States. The Sprint PCS network operates a combination 2G & 3G wireless network.

T-Mobile USA – The US subsidiary of T-Mobile International AG. Previously known as VoiceStream Wireless and Powertel, it was acquired by Deutsche Telekom for US$24 billion. Currently the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with approximately 27 million subscribers. Their network predominately uses the GSM/GPRS 1900 MHz frequency-band, making it the largest 1900 MHz network in the US. Service is available in 46 of the top 50 US markets, reaching 244 million potential customers. Forecasts call for reaching 98 of 100 largest markets and 259 million potential customers in 2008.

Telecom Italia – A privately owned telecommunication company with the largest user base in Italy. They operate landline telephone services, GSM phone services (as TIM, present in Italy and Brazil) and ADSL services.

Telefónica – One of the largest fixed-line and mobile telecommunications companies in the world. They are 2nd in terms of number of clients and in the top five in terms of market value.


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