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Android A to Z: A glossary of Android jargon and technical terms

Nick Mediati | Dec. 11, 2015
Do you know your ARM from your API from your ADB? We clear up the sometimes confusing terminology in the world of Android.

Milliampre-hourabbreviated mAh—is a unit for measuring electrical charge. It’s often used to describe the capacity of a battery, and you’ll often find it in marketing materials for smartphones and tablets. The higher the mAh rating for a battery, the larger its capacity. However, since the tech specs and power management systems can vary wildly from one device and another, a battery’s charge capacity isn’t the only factor that determines battery life. A phone with a smaller mAh rating on its battery might last longer if the display and processor and radios are more energy-efficient, for instance.

Miracast is an industry standard technology that lets you stream what’s on your phone to or tablet onto your TV or other display. Miracast-compatible devices work together on a peer-to-peer basis—you don’t need a router to act as a middleman between your phone and TV. In order to use Miracast, you need to be running an OS that supports it, and you need a Miracast-compatible TV or receiver dongle. Check out PCWorld’s Miracast setup tutorial to learn more. 

Nearby: As its name suggests, Nearby lets you connect to and share data with other devices that are, well, nearby. According to Google, Nearby “uses a combination of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and inaudible sound” to identify other nearby devices. Nearby isn’t a standalone feature in Android; instead, it’s a set of technologies that developers can incorporate into their apps. For example, Google Play Games uses Nearby to find others near you who you can play a game with—a handy feature if you want to play with a family member or roommate without going through a network or server.

nexus phones rear
A Nexus 5 and Nexus 5x.

Nexus: This is Google’s brand name for a line of phones and tablets that run pure, unadulterated “stock” Android, sold direct to consumers by Google, and with Google providing software updates with no carrier interference. Nexus devices don’t come bundled with carrier-specific apps, nor do they include the customized interfaces and branded features that so many Android phones ship with. As an added bonus, Nexus devices get new releases of Android first, often weeks or months before other phones.

It’s important to note that Google doesn’t actually manufacture Nexus devices: Instead, it partners with other hardware manufactures, like Samsung, LG, and Huawei, which design and build a phone or tablet that meets Google’s specifications.

Nexus phones started as a necessity—Google says it can’t really develop Android as a competitive operating system without simultaneously developing phone hardware to test the latest features before release. And developers need a “baseline” phone that runs unaltered Android to test their applications on. Today, Nexus devices appeal to the mass market, with prominent TV ads and such.


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