Things move fast in the tech world.  In a general sense all things tech will continue to run faster, get smaller and cost less.  Along the way, the latest technology becomes increasingly accessible.  Especially from a price perspective.  But as also seems that as costs come down, tech jargon increases.

Wikipedia defines jargon as the language used by people who work in a particular area or who have a common interest and much like slang, it can develop as a kind of short-hand, to express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group.

All trades, professions, special interest groups, and even communities and families have their own jargon or special language to describe specific things or events that are very well known to their members.

Unfortunately for those of us outside “the club”, jargon poses a significant barrier to communication, potentially dimishing our willingness and desire to invest in and enjoy the many tech gadgets available.

I’m not really part of the IT or tech club.  I’m a bit of an outsider, more of a gadet enthusiast who understands how to use the tech and gadets more than the mechanics of their inner workings.  So I’ve had to come up the learning curve somewhat to better understand how to get the most out of tech and gadets I choose to ride with.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time or become an expert.  Knowing some basic terminology (together with this website) will go a long way in helping you choose which gadgets and tech are right for you.  So in an effort to demystify some the tech jargon out there, here are some definitions and explanations that may be useful, starting with tech jargon typically associated with smartphones, operating systems and apps.


The iPhone from Apple is the best known Smartphone in the market today but there are many other manufacturers and models.  Smartphones have been around since the 1990’s but Apple really created the benchmark with the release of the iPhone in 2007.  Originally a hybrid of mobile/cell phone, PDA (personal digital assistant eg Palm Pilot) and digital camera, todays Smartphones also incorporate media players (eg iPod’s, MP3 players), video camers, GPS navigation units (Satnav’s) and high resultion touch screens that facilitate browsing of standard web pages via Wi-Fi and mobile broadband (3G).

Operating System

The operating system controls the Smartphone just as Windows (Microsoft), Mac OS X (Apple), or Linux (open source or free) controls a desktop computer or laptop.  Smartphone operating systems at present are somewhat simpler, dealing more with the wireless versions of broadband and local connectivity, mobile multimedia formats, and different input methods.

The most comon smartphone operating systems are:

  • Android from Google (over 50% share of the global smartphone market), open source and available on  smartphones from Samsung and HTC
  • iOS from Apple, closed source, only available on iPhone
  • BlackBerry OS from RIM, closed source, only available on BlackBerry handsets
  • Windows Phone from Microsoft, closed source, available on several manufacturers smartphones eg Nokia, Samsung and HTC
  • Symbian maintained by Accenture, formerly open source but more recently proprietary shared-source (the former giant is possibly in decline following Nokia’s decision in 2011 to migrate to Windows Mobile), available on handsets from Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola and LG.


Known as software or programs when on a desktop computer or laptop, but on smartphones or tablets (ie iPad) they are called mobile applications or simply apps.  Apps are a product of the smartphone’s PDA (personal digital assistant) heritage and  originally focused on business productivity such as  email, calendar and contact databases.  Public demand led to apps being developed for other purposes including games, location-based services (GPS navigation) , banking and electronic commerce.

Apps are mostlydownloaded directly to the smartphone from an electronic marketplace, typically operated by the owner of the operating system (the distributor).  Many apps are free but often the developer will charge a small fee with 20%-30% of the price going to the the distributor.  The most common app distributors are:

  • Android Market from Google for Android smartphones
  • Apple App Store (a department of the iTunes store ) for iOS only devices (ie iPhones and iPads)
  • BlackBerry App World from RIM
  • Windows Phone Marketplace from Microsoft
  • Amazon Appstore for Android
  • Ovi Store from Nokia for Symbian devices

Some apps are operating system dependent (ie only available for iOS or Android) but the most popular apps are available on multiple platforms (eg iOS, Andorid and BlackBerry).

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