Glossary of Mobile App Terms

The following is a glossary of some key terms, concepts and acronyms used in Mobile App Development:


  • A/B Testing: Testing two or more variations of app elements to see which one performs better. Examples: Buttons, Background Colors, Icons, Fonts, App Content, etc. (aka split testing and multivariate testing)

  • Ad Network: Allows app developers to create customized interstitial and video ads, promote new apps and swap traffic with other developers.

  • Airtime: Time spent communicating on a mobile phone. The time is tracked by wireless carriers (service providers) to determine billing charges.

  • Alerts: A type of communication, which converts instant and important information.

  • Analytics: The discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Developers use analytics to track users actions within an app.

  • Android: A smartphone operating system (OS) and software platform created by Google. Android is based on Linux.

  • API (Application Programming Interface): A set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API specifies how software components should interact and APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components.

  • APK (Android Application Package): A file format used to deliver mobile apps to Android devices for testing or distribution. The equivalent of APK in iOS is called IPA files.

  • APP or Native App: “App” is usually used to described a “native application”. Native means that the app has been designed to run on that kind of device, and that kind of device alone, and before it can run, it has to actually be installed.

  • App Builds: A packaged or compiled version of the finished mobile app software.

  • App Bundle (for iOS): The term used to describe the entirety of a single complete iOS app, containing both executable code as well as content such as image files, video files, documents, etc. An app bundle is the final output of the iOS app development process.

  • App Developer: An individual that creates apps for mobile devices

  • App Package: The term (defined here) to describe both iOS app bundles and Android APKs, the purpose of which is to discuss them in a platform-agnostic way. An app package is the final output of the app development process, regardless of platform. An app package is deployable to an app store.

  • App Store or Application Store: An online portal through which software programs are made available for procurement and download.

  • App User: A person that downloads and uses your mobile app.

  • Application Software Components: These are 2 major software components: client-side (front-end) and server-side (back-end).

  • Application Distribution: The method of submitting a developed app to any application store and sharing it with consumers as well as with certain enterprises is known as Application Distribution. Let’s say if you are a developer and wish to submit your app to Apple App store then there are certain guidelines that you must follow like as you must possess a Developer’s License in order to share your app with the users and if you wish to share your app with enterprises then Enterprise license is required.

  • Application Maintenance: Once the app is developed and delivered to consumer then the alteration of application in order to rectify any errors if found or to improve the performance or any other attribute is known as Application maintenance.

  • Application Portability: Developing applications for one platform and then using the same for any other platform is known as Application Portability. In short, if your application is customizable then it can be used for any other platform such as Android, Blackberry etc. It is similar to mobile number portability where one number can be used with many service providers.

  • ASO (App Store Optimization): The process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store's search results.

  • Asynchronous: A way to send information at non-regular intervals, as-needed. The alternative is Synchronous communication, where information is sent continuously and synchronized with a time signal.

  • Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality refers to any direct or indirect view of any natural world which is expanded by using any kind of computer generated input like sound, graphics etc. 3D games are an ideal example for augmented reality.

  • Authentication: It is a term used when user’s data is verified with the details like birth date, finger prints, secret question, password, smart card etc and lots more. It is one of the methods used to verify sensitive or we can say confidential data.

  • Avatar: A graphic image that represents a person. Animated avatars use far less bandwidth than streaming video, saving money on data charges.


  • Bluetooth: A short-range wireless technology used to create PANs (Personal Area Networks) among your devices, and with other nearby devices.

  • Browser: In wireless phones, built-in software that allows the user to access Internet sites using their phones. Nearly all browsers in phones can view sites made especially for phones.


  • CDN (Content Delivery Network): An application that helps you deliver your mobile app content.

  • Churn Rate: How frequently mobile app users abandon your app after a certain period

  • Cloud, SAAS: Cloud, SAAS is broadly known as Cloud Computing or Software as a Service that is used to compute hardware and software facilities provided over any network like as Internet.

  • Content (in mobile app terms): Anything that is not a design or programming element in your mobile app is content. any text, images, audio, video, HTML, etc. that the mobile app users can see in your app would be considered content.

  • CMS (Content Management System): An application that helps you publish, deliver, and update mobile app content sent to mobile app users from one central place.

  • Cross-Platform: It refers to developing software for or running software on more than one type of platform while maintaing similar results of design and functionalities.

  • CSR (Certificate Signing Request): This is a required digital asset that includes personal information mostly used to prepare developer certificates especially for preparing a device for development on iOS platform.


  • Dedicated Number: An unique mobile number which is used for all your inbound and outbound messages.

  • Delivery Report: A report provided by the network used to send the message to inform of its delivery status.

  • Deep Linking: A methodology for launching a native mobile application via a link. Deep linking connects a unique URL to a defined action in a mobile app, seamlessly linking users to relevant content.

  • Developer Certificate: As discussed in the Application distribution process, Developer certificate is a must have digital asset for any developer if he/she wishes to submit any of its app on the Apple App store and share it with consumers. This certificate provides the identification of an iOS application developer. Any developer can opt for this certificate once this is approved by CSR and then this can be downloaded from iOS portal and then added to developer’s keychain.

  • Development Life Cycle: This is a term used for the entire chain of processes and procedures that are involved during the creation of any program, system or product. Generally, a term used while developing software or IT products.

  • Device or Mobile Device: A portable computing device such as a smartphone or tablet computer.

  • Device Orientation: We usually see an option of Auto Rotate in our mobile or tablet devices may be of Apple, Android or Windows. This is known as Device orientation whereby a screen can be visible in portrait as well as landscape views.

  • Direct Manipulation: This describes such interactive systems where users can directly interact with the operating system through “user control”. Here, there’s no need to type text commands as the user can directly interact with directories and files and can get the visual representation of the progress as well as the completion of the task. A simple example that describes direct manipulation is reshaping any graphical shape like as square, rectangle etc.

  • Download Velocity: How often a mobile app is downloaded in a certain time frame.


  • Emulator: This is a testing tool used along with the device testing or at such places where fewer devices are available. Emulators imitate the software environment and resemble most of the parts of hardware peripherals.

  • Encrypting: This is the term used when data is to be protected from being read by unauthorized identities in such a way that it can be restored easily in its original way.

  • End-User(s): Certain softwares or programmes are designed for specific type of users who are the final operators of that device or software once it is completely developed, marketed and then installed. These are known as End Users quite different from developers or programmers.

  • Enterprise License: This refers to Apple’s developer programs where Enterprise License is needed if a developer wants to share its apps among the enterprises. Let’s say you developed any App for iOS platform and if you possess this Enterprise License then you can easily update, share or host in-house proprietary apps to employees working in your company. This license is available for $299/year and gives you various facilities like as access to iOS SDK, Developer centre resources as well as Apple Developer Forums.

  • Enterprise Mobile Apps: A mobile app that provides functionality primarily to enterprise business and organizations. Typically the app solves user control, role based access, and caters toward the scale of enterprise workplaces.

  • ETL (Extract, Transform, Load): 3 database functions that are combined into one tool to pull data out of one database and place it into another database. Extract is the process of reading data from a database. Transform is the process of converting the extracted data from its previous form into the form it needs to be in so that it can be placed into another database. Transformation occurs by using rules or lookup tables or by combining the data with other data. Load is the process of writing the data into the target database.

  • Expedited App Review: A review process performed by Apple that gets your iOS app approved for the app store quicker. this review process is reserved for updates with major bugs or releases that are time sensitive. Apple only allows a couple per account and in rare cases.


  • Fingerprint: (aka Device Fingerprint, Machine Fingerprint, Browser Fingerprint) Information collected about a remote computer device for the purpose of identification. Fingerprints can be used to fully or partially identify individual users or devices even when cookies are turned off. Commonly, it is used to prevent online fraud.

  • Fingerprinting: The capability of a site to identify or re-identify a visiting user, user agent or device via configuration settings or other observable characteristics.

  • Fragmentation (in mobile): This shows the current confusion going on inside the mobile landscape. Fragmentation is the term used where it is impossible to create a single application that can function properly on all devices.

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): This is one of the most commonly used protocols that is used to transfer data from one server to another over the internet.

  • Functionality: This refers to the efficiency of any software program or application.


  • Gateway: The entrance to the messenger platform.

  • Geofence: A virtual geographic boundary, defined by GPS or RFID technology, that enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.

  • GeoRSS: These are location wise encoded feed formats that are used to produce and deliver regularly updated web content like as audio, video, news headlines, blog posts etc.

  • GPS (Global Positioning System): Now days, most of the devices have GPS system inbuilt which is used to know the information such as Latitude and Longitude, location time (when enabled).

  • GUI (Graphical User Interface): This is a user interface that allows quick interaction through images instead of text commands between a user and any electronic device. Some of the examples are menus, pointer and icons.


  • Hit Target: These are the touch points of any device.

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): A standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic and hyperlink effects on a web page.

  • Hybrid App: Apps that wrap a mobile webs interface inside a native container.


  • In-App Ads: Advertisements that display within your mobile app to your mobile app users

  • IAP (In-App Purchases): Purchases of items and functionality within your mobile devices.

  • In-App Messages: Any message that originates from inside the app through means other than push notifications.

  • Internal Mobile Apps: Mobile apps that are typically built for internal use at companies. Internal apps

  • Internationalization: (See Localization).

  • iOS (originally iPhone OS): A mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. and distributed exclusively for Apple hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers many of the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

  • Iterations: A different or updated version of your mobile app.


  • Jailbreak: This is a term that refers to a process of eliminating all the drawbacks set by Apple on iOS devices. This process is actually considered illegal however the final result is maximum control over the behaviour and environment of the device, changes to the operating system as well as home screen display.

  • JSON (JavaScript Object Notation): An alternate to XML data format. It is very simple and efficient as compared to XML but is incapable to define data rules and complex data.


  • Keychain: This is mostly used for iOS platforms. It is a type of storage that consists of coded information used for various services and applications.

  • Keyword or Mobile Keywords: In text message marketing is a new marketing tool beneficial for businesses. Its a single word sent via text message to short code number.


  • LBS (Location-Based Services): This is one of the services based on GPS feature using which the user can get the benefit of all the information or entertainment services available in the location where he/she is present.

  • LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) App: An app that is developed with a cross-platform toolset that uses a strategy of lowest common denominator (LCD) for creating the app screens. Different platforms provide different functionality, especially in terms of how user interface (UI) items are displayed on the screens. An LCD development toolset constrains the developer to a subset of UI items that all of the target platforms can display, and none of the items that at least one platform can't display. The advantage is that the developer need only create one set of screens for multiple platforms. Thedisadvantage is that the design of the app cannot be as expressive as a non-LCD app.


  • Messenger: The online Text local service that can be logged into from any internet enabled PC, laptop, Mac or tablet.

  • Metaphors: These are objects or actions that relate to real world. For example, a file contains important data even in real world as well as virtual world. When any user sees the word ‘file” on a computer screen, they automatically understand that it is a document which includes important data. Some of the most often used Metaphors are dragging, flicking, sliding on/off etc and much more.

  • MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service): It is a broad version of SMS (short message service) through which we can send and receive pictures, greetings on our mobile devices.

  • Mobile App: A computer program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Most such devices are sold with several apps bundled as pre-installed software, such as a web browser, email client, calendar, mapping program, and an app for buying music or other media or more apps.

  • MADP (Mobile Application Development Platform ): A type of software that allows a business to rapidly build, test and perhaps deploy mobile apps for smartphone or tablets.

  • MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform): It is a entire set of products and services used for developing mobile applications for various networks, devices as well as user groups during the complete development process.

  • Mobile App Feature Switching: aka feature toggle. Feature Flag, Feature Flipper, Conditional Feature, etc the capability to turn on and off specific functionality in your mobile app remotely, without coding and breaking other parts of your mobile app.

  • Mobile App SDK: A self-contained library or framework which allows developers to extend the functionality of the library into their mobile application. for instance, the Facebook SDK allows you to add Facebook features right into your app.

  • Mobile App User Retention: How many users have your mobile app and consistently use it.

  • Mobile Browser: Mobile browser is a web browser designed to be accessed by mobile devices and optimized to display web content effectively for small screens.

  • Mobile Development: Mobile development is the process by which application software is developed for small low-power handheld devices such as personal digital assistants, enterprise digital assistants or mobile phones.

  • Mobile Fragmentation: This is the term used to reflect differences in mobile devices and platforms as well as the inefficiency to develop an application which is suitable and can be used with all platforms and devices.

  • Mobile Subscriptions: Purchasing a mobile phone contract from any mobile subscriber is termed as mobile subscriptions.

  • Mobile Surveys: Surveys or Forms that are optimized for the smaller screens of mobile devices, but still contain a rich set of features.

  • Mobile Web Page/Site: An online page or website that is optimized for mobile browsing. They don’t really do anything different. There is no special functionality. It’s just a scaled down website, optimized for viewing on mobile devices.

  • MOW (Mobile Optimized Websites): A website that is optimized for mobile devices. It has been designed and formatted to read and navigate easily on the small screens of mobile devices.

  • Multi-Platform App: An app that is developed to target more than one platform, using multiple programming languages to do so, typically the native programming languages of each platform.

  • MVP (Minimum Viable Product): A product which has just enough features to gather validated learning about the product. A version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

  • MVT (Multivariate Testing): is a technique for testing a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified. The goal of multivariate testing is to determine which combination of variations performs the best out of all of the possible combinations. Websites and mobile apps are made of combinations of changeable elements.


  • Native App: An application written for a certain mobile operating system.

  • NFC (Near Field Communication): Some mobiles can now be placed near to chip and pin machines to make a payment.

  • Network Operator: The company to which your mobile device connects to, such as Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile.

  • Non-Native App (with app package output): Any app that has been developed in such a way that the full extent of a given platform is not available for the the developer to use.

  • NPL (Native Programming Language): Refers to the computer programming language that the platform designer/maintainer designed to be used with the given platform. For the iOS platform, the native programming language is Objective-C. For the Android platform, the native programming language is Java.

  • NNPL (Non-Native Programming Language): Any computer programming language that was not specifically intended by the platform designer/maintainer to be used with a given platform, but can be. Examples of non-native languages that can be used (along with special tools) to develop apps are C#, Javascript, Ruby, etc.


  • OpenGL (Open Graphics Library): It is API software for graphics hardware which is used on all platforms. It is a principle specification used to write applications that create 2D and 3D computer graphics. The network includes more than 250 different commands which are used to specify objects and operations required to develop a communicative 3D and 2D graphics. This open graphics library is used for flight simulation, virtual reality, video games and information visualization.

  • Open source: It defines production and development practices that endorse the access to the end product’s source materials. It also allows to access any code enabled self advancing variety of production models, communication paths and interactive communities. This led to the origin of a word known as “Open Source Software” which is used to describe the environment with new copyright, licensing, domain and consumer issues created.

  • OTA (Over-The-Air): A download that initiates over a wireless broadband connection from a mobile device.


  • Packet Data: A method of transferring data by breaking it up into small chunks called packets.

  • Platform: Refers to the hardware and software specifications set forth by a particular organization. The iOS platform is specified and maintained by Apple Inc. The Android platform is specified and maintained by Google Inc.

  • Prototyping: It is one of the systems that develop a scale model which renders the detailed information about a system’s interaction with the required environment. Prototyping is used to identify if the system design meets the real user needs and also to bring ahead the learning process. This can be worth only when it is fast, inexpensive and flexible.

  • Provisioning Profile: This is related to iOS platform. It combines several developer certificates, devices as well as an App Id.

  • Push: "Push" is a general term that refers to technologies that allow a central system (such as the mobile phone network) to send ("push") information spontaneously and quickly to an end-user (perhaps via their mobile device), without action on the part of the user or mobile device.

  • Push Fatigue (aka push notification fatigue): A decline in mobile app user interest in push notifications from the overuse and that has lead to lower user engagement gains.


  • QR Code: A quick response code that is a square patterned representation of data, which is readable by any Smart phone with the right software downloaded.

  • Quality Assurance Testing (QA): The systematic monitoring and examination of several aspects of projects truly making sure that the task is completed as per the agreed specifications’, standard and functionality requirement is known as Quality Assurance testing.


  • Retina icon: An app icon that is saved at double it’s size for optimal viewing on retina-enabled mobile devices. creating a retina version of your mobile icon will deliver a crisp version of your mobile icon to users that view your icon on retina devices.

  • Really Simple Syndication Feeds (RSS Feeds): These are Rich Site Summary feeds arranged and used to produce and provide regularly updated web content like as blogs, audio, video, news etc.

  • Rich Internet Application : It is a web application possessing many features of a desktop application software that are delivered by a site specific browser, browser plug in and individual sand box or virtual machines.

  • Rich media: Also known as multimedia that replies to the user’s input. It is known widely for motion flexibility like most of the digital media details including text images, videos, audio, animation etc. It can be easily embedded and downloaded.

  • ROI (Return on Investment): A way to measure the results of a campaign.

  • Root (device): This term is mostly used for android devices. Rooting means deleting all the limitations applied by Google on various android devices. Even though it is illegal, the overall result is the complete control over the response and environment of the device as well as modifications of operating system and the appearance of main screen.


  • Screenshot: Another name for Screen capture, Print screen etc is known as Screen shot. It is an image taken from the computer or mobile device showing the visual representation of what is being displayed. When you face any system issue and wish to show the issue to the system admin then screenshot is the option that will help you to capture the screen revealing the problem that occurs.

  • Scripting or Scripting Language: A high-level programming language that is interpreted by another program at run-time rather than compiled by the computer's processor as other programming languages (such as C and C++) are. Scripting languages, which can be embedded within HTML, commonly are used to add functionality to a Web page, such as different menu styles or graphic displays or to serve dynamic advertisements.

  • SDK (Software Development Kit or "devkit"): Typically a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform. The purpose of an SDK is to provide developers with a basic starting point where they can go to lay the foundations of their projects. It can include simulators for testing things, programs for actually building things and anything else that a developer might need.

  • Short Links: A tool in Messenger that creates shorter web links to use up less character.

  • Simulator: Similar to Emulator, simulator is also a testing tool that is used for device testing at places where devices are limited. These are used to imitate the software environment without affecting the hardware.

  • Smart Phone: Internet ready mobile phones that can do a lot more than call and send SMS.

  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): is the most frequently used message protocol in Web services. It contains all the information about message such as error details or data used to ensure message reliability.

  • Social Connect: A function built into Messenger that pushes outbound SMS to your social networks.

  • Software Defects: These are known as bugs or errors that are caused while installing an application for any particular software or framework.

  • Spam: Unsolicited communications.

  • Streaming: A process of providing a non-stop steady data stream across various telecommunication networks that is presented and obtained by end user is known as Streaming. Generally, streaming is associated with online audio and video.

  • SRS (Systems Requirement Specification): It is also known as required document (RD). It is a document that outlines the complete development process of any mobile project as per the needs of the client including targeted platforms and present data architecture.

  • Subscription: Agreeing to receive on-going mobile communications from one certain company.

  • Synchronous: A method to transmit information continuously and is synchronized with a time signal.


  • Tech Stack (aka Technology Stack): A combination of software products and programming language used to create a web or mobile application.

  • Test Provisioning Profile: These are special provisioning profiles allotted to non developers or to those who are not the members of iOS developer team. Through these profiles, they can easily install and test unpublished applications of an App store.

  • Touch User Interface Gestures (pinch, scrolling, zooming, swipe): All are the expressions that reveal the user’s interaction with any of the mobile devices such as Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Every mobile device platform has its own pre- determined gestures.

  • Touchscreen: We all are aware about this term and also use it on regular basis. Technically, it is known as an electronic visual display that identifies the location of touch in the display area. These allow users to directly interact with devices without using any other means such as touch pad or mouse.


  • UDID (Unique Device Identifier): A unique alphanumeric that identifies a specific mobile device. Typically is a number assigned by the mobile device manufacturer. UDID is a feature of Apple iDevices and is created from 40 letters and numbers. It was depricated in 2013 for privacy reason.

  • UI (User Interface): User Interface is the software front for interacting with the technical features of a mobile phone, websites.

  • Universal App: a mobile app that can run on multiple devices using the same platform. for example, a mobile app that can run on any device (the iPod, iPad, and iPhone) on the iOS platform.

  • Upload: Inputting your mobile phone data into your contact base on Messenger via an excel sheet.

  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator): A location or address identifying where documents can be found on the Internet.

  • Use Case: It is a technique adopted by developers to explain the interaction between the operator and the software. These describe the actions that can help developers to define the necessary features in order to enforce and forecast all the problems that can occur in future.

  • User engagement: How frequently your mobile apps open and interact with your mobile app. important metric that correlates with user retention.

  • UX (User Experience): This shows how the user felt and how did he/she feel about the device, system or an app after using it. The user experience helps to judge the ease of use, response given by the device as well as the product efficient. This then helps to make necessary improvements in the product based on the experience shared by the users.


  • Vertical Video: is video shot on a mobile phone in portrait mode - i.e. skinny and tall video, rather than the widescreen format normalized by movies and television.

  • Voice Activation: Ability of an electronic security device to recognize the voice (which is unique as a fingerprint) of a particular person.

  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): Any technology for transmitting voice, such as ordinary telephone calls, over packet-switched data networks, such as the Internet.

  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): is used to connect to any local network connection with a view to access internet. This VPN can be used by encrypting the code. This is used to send any type of data like as audio, video, images where internet is used as a means to send such data types.


  • Web App (Web / Mobile Web / Responsive Web): An app whose code does not typically exist on a mobile device and whose functionality is accessed by the user through a web browser on the device. This type of app can be accessed either by the user going to a public URL (web address), or by accessing web pages that may be directly on the device. The latter requires a hybrid app.

  • Whales: The bigger spenders in mobile apps. These users tend to spend a lot on in-app purchases in mobile apps. They also generate the most revenue for app developers.

  • Wi-Fi: Wireless local area network allow wireless access to the internet. Needed to send/receive MMS or view Mobile Web Pages.

  • Wireframes: A design draft or prototype of the functionality and navigation of a mobile app. Typically created when developing a new mobile app or add a feature to an existing app.

  • WAP (Wireless Application Protocol): This is an application available in mobile devices. It is used to access any necessary information via internet. It is supported by most of the operating systems as well as wireless networks.

  • Wireless Network: In simple terms, it is known as Wi-Fi. The Wi- Fi connections use radio frequency waves for communication. The wireless adapter of the device interprets the data and then transmits it to any wireless router which then decodes the data.

  • Wireless Services: This refers to the high speed data transmission services 3G and 4G wireless services. The speed of these data transmission services is measured in mbps. Using these high speed data services, one can smoothly surf the internet as well as watch the videos without any disturbance.

  • WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network): A mobile user connects to a local area network via a wireless connection.


  • xHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language): A newer version of the HTML markup language (code) used to create Internet web pages.

  • XML (Extensible Markup Language): A markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable.

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