30+ Mobile Development Terms

The mobile industry is booming; as a result, the need for qualified developers has never been greater. In order to make sure that you are getting what you pay for with your developer, it’s important to know some key vocabulary words. This blog post will provide succinct definitions of common development terms in the field of mobile app development and software engineering.

  • Accelerometer: A device that measures the speed and direction of a moving object.
  • Adaptive layout: A UI design technique for responsive designs, which changes how content is displayed based on certain parameters such as screen size.
  • Application programming interface (API): A set of protocols or routines to be used in software programs. It provides a way to access data from an application and enables communication between software applications.
  • Appcache: A storing system for webpages which allows a user to load pages without an internet connection. This is typically done by creating copies of webpages and then loading them from local storage when the device needs it.
  • Bluetooth: A wireless technology that provides a way for devices to talk to each other over short distances without using cables or Wi-Fi connections (usually).
  • Business-to-customer (BAC): The process where organizations interact with customers, promoting their products and services through various channels, such as websites, social media networks etc. BAC also refers to businesses who sell directly to consumers on their own website instead of going through retailers.
  • Business-to-business (BBE): The process where organizations interact with other businesses, namely trading partners and suppliers.
  • Business-to-employee (BEE): Employees who are able to work from home. They may be given a computer or mobile device for this purpose.
  • Data animation: Changing the way data is displayed in order to make it more interesting e.g., changing static graphs into an interactive diagram that can change over time.
  • Device API: A set of protocols or routines which enables programs on your phone to communicate with different functions/features built within your device e.g., Accelerometer, GPS etc…
  • Emulator: Software application designed for use by developers wishing to test various aspects of their software without having access to multiple devices simultaneously; often used when testing mobile apps.
  • Feature phone: A simple, basic cell-phone that has limited features.
  • Gryoscope: An app for detecting how fast your device is rotating in three dimensions (x, y and z) by working out the angle of rotation from a gyroscope sensor built within it. This enables you to interact with games using gestures etc..
  • HTML – HyperText Markup Language: The language used on webpages which lets developers create content for websites or other online resources Hybrid app – “A single codebase application capable of running both natively as well as in a Web browser” (Techopedia). It’s usually coded so that parts can be shared between multiple platforms e.g., Android and iOS applications are usually built using Java, Objective-C or Swift.
  • Internet of things: A term that refers to the idea that everyday objects contain embedded technology which enables them to communicate with each other and exchange data over a network. It’s predicted by 2020 there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices in operation globally.
  • Mobile app – A computer program designed for use on mobile devices rather than desktop computers. Mobile apps are usually created so they can only run on specific operating systems e.g., Android apps cannot be used on iOS but vice versa.
  • Mobile application development platform (MADP): Software packages such as PhoneGap which allow developers to create applications cross-platforms i.e., the same code can be usable on iOS and Android.
  • Mobile app developer: A person who develops, or is part of a team that develops, mobile phone applications.
  • Mobile OS: The operating system on your handset e.g., Android, iOS or Windows Phone.
  • mBaaS: A cloud-based mobile backend as a service.
  • MCAP: A Mobile Consumer Application Platform used by business to convert their desktop application into one for the iPhone and other devices. It’s an easier way of coding, faster and cheaper.
  • MEAP: A Mobile Enterprise Application Platform that enables companies to develop web applications which can be accessed from any device. It’s often used for enterprise apps which require security.
  • MVP: A Minimum Viable Product or a basic version of an app with the core features. This is not complete but can be tested to see if it has potential.
  • Native App: Software developed using programming languages specific to each mobile platform, e.g., Objective-C and Swift for iOS applications.
  • NFC: Near Field Communication – The transmission between two devices that are close together (usually within four inches) such as your phone connecting wirelessly with payment terminals at supermarkets etc.
  • OAuth: An open protocol standard in authorization over the web allowing users to grant third party access without having passwords revealed across servers, similar to Facebook Connect providing automatic connection when logging into other services. It’s a more secure process for signing in.
  • SAML: A Security Assertion Markup Language that enables single sign-on to web services without the need of passwords.
  • SMS: Short Message Service – Allows text messages up to 160 characters between mobile phones, but can also be used on websites and social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook etc.
  • SOA: Software architecture where software components are accessed remotely through service interfaces rather than local procedure calls. This is based around the idea of separation of concerns so it’s easier to keep track when things go wrong.
  • SSO: Single Sign On (or Single Login) – The ability for someone with one login ID (such as your email address) to gain access automatically to all other services without needing to log in twice.
  • STA: Software development kit or a set of tools for the building and testing of an application. For example, Xcode is Apple’s primary software developer package (SDK) which includes compilers, libraries and programming languages such as Objective-C.
  • TDD: Test Driven Development – This involves writing tests before writing code so that errors can be caught earlier. It also makes it easier to make changes later on if needed.
  • UX: User Experience – The process by which people interact with your app from installation through use. People will want clear instructions about how things work at every stage; they need apps to respond quickly etc
  • UI: User Interface – What you see when you access a mobile device such as icons, menus and buttons. The UI has to be simple and intuitive so that people can use it without needing instructions.
  • Web View: A web browser or web page within an app (as opposed to native app) which provides the user with basic browsing facilities in addition to your application content.
  • Web App: Software designed for accessing over the internet – either on desktop computers, tablets or smartphones via browsers like Chrome etc…
  • Wi-fi: Wireless Fidelity aka Wi-Fi is a technology for wireless local area networking based on IEEE 802.11 standards. It’s usually used where there are only two devices nearby each other because of its short range but transferring large amounts of data quickly between laptops/phones etc…

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