Android OS and Development Terms

Android is a powerful and flexible operating system that has been widely adopted by mobile device manufacturers. The Android ecosystem is so diverse, it can be difficult to keep track of all the terminology. That’s why we’ve put together this list of common terms you should know if you want to get started with Android development or have an interest in the platform!

Android OS terms

  • Android Auto – this is a system for car infotainment systems developed by Google that brings together safe, intuitive and contextual access to Maps; Messages
  • APK – this stands for Android Package Kit. It’s basically an archive used in the installation process of distributions from sources other than Google Play Store
  • Always-on Display – this refers to AMOLED screens that have an always-on feature that never turns off the display. It is also sometimes referred to as “Ambient Display”
  • App Drawer – this refers to Android’s system level user interface element for launching applications installed on a device.
  • Bootloop – this refers to when an app has caused itself or other apps (or even whole processes) in your phone/tablet to continually restart while it cannot be used
  • Bootloader – this refers to software which loads instructions from boot sector during startup process before passing control over computer hardware like CPU and memory subsystems
  • Bloatware – these are unwanted preinstalled/preloaded programs often found on mobile phones and tablets. They are often preinstalled by wireless carriers and manufacturers
  • Custom ROM – this refers to a version of Android OS that has been modified for specific devices so it can be installed
  • CyanogenMod – this is an open-source operating system based on the Android mobile platform. The Cyanogen Mod community developed software distribution, custom built upon the official releases from Google Mobile Services (GMS) with added original and third party features
  • Factory Reset – this process involves deleting all data stored within internal storage or external media, such as SD card(s). This includes any personal information like contacts, photos, videos etc. It also restores device settings back to factory defaults including UI layout configurations
  • Google Play Store – this app store provides free and paid content from Google, as well as other developers. It was originally known as Android Market
  • NFC – this stands for “Near Field Communication”. This is the technology that powers features like Android Beam which allow you to share files (songs, photos etc) with friends nearby by tapping your phone or tablet against theirs. The NFC chip emits a radio signal containing data. Many of our devices have an embedded NFC chipset
  • Rooting – this process involves gaining elevated privileges on a device so you can modify its system software and use it in ways not allowed by default restrictions set in place by manufacturers/developers
  • Vanilla Android-this refers to stock versions of OS developed directly from Google without any modifications or additions made either pre-installed or post-install. It is sometimes also called “Stock Android”.

Android Development terms

  • Android Studio – this is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) created entirely in JetBrains’ open source language Kotlin. It provides support for development with Gradle build files, MonoDroid project files (.aar), and more!
  • Android Virtual Device (AVD) – a software simulation of an Android device that can be used for testing or debugging purposes without the need to physically have access to such.
  • Application Programming Interface (API) – a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies which commands can be invoked with what parameters to do what function on a given platform or device.
  • Android Studio – this is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) created entirely in JetBrains’ open source language Kotlin. It provides support for development with Gradle build files, MonoDroid project files (.aar), and more!
  • Android Virtual Device (AVD) – a software simulation of an Android device that can be used for testing or debugging purposes without the need to physically have access to such.
  • Build Variants – these are one of two things: either different versions of your app built from one base source—e.g., debug versus production; or configuration settings for building/signing APKs with different configurations like target SDK version and branding colors
  • Dex file – this is a platform (.dex) containing compiled code which bundles together .class files, resources, native libraries, and manifest(s). It is executable on Dalvik VM in Java Bytecode format.
  • Gradle build files – these are build scripts that specify what needs to be done in order to assemble a final APK.
  • Gradle – this is an open source Java based build automation tool which can automate the building of software packages and downloads from remote repositories, among other things!
  • JNI (Java Native Interface) – this is a technology used in computer programming languages like Java for bridging between libraries written in different native codes such as C/C++ or Objective-C
  • Proguard – an open source development tool created by Google for shrinking and optimizing Android code without altering functionality. It optimizes your application’s bytecode and removes unused classes so it takes up less space on the device or emulator where they’re running.
  • SDK Tools – these are Eclipse plugins that provide various developer utilities including: ADB; DDMS; Logcat window; Hierarchy Viewer; Dump Java Heap tool among other things!

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