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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.

Stock Android (Also vanilla Android): “Stock Android” is a term often used to describe pure, unadulterated Android—that is, versions of Android that phone vendors and carriers haven’t customized. It’s Google’s interface, features, and apps, and nothing else. Relatively few phones run unmodified versions of Android; if you want a phone running stock Android, your best bet is to go with one of the Nexus phones. Some manufacturers have their own versions of Android that look and feel very much like Stock Android, with precious few modifications only to enable exclusive features. Motorola, OnePlus, and Nvidia are good examples.

usb types compared
USB Type C (left) compared to the more common USB Type A (right).

USB Type-C: You’re probably familiar with a good many of the USB connectors out there: There’s USB Type A (the port most likely to be on your computer), USB Type B (often found on printers), Mini USB, and Micro USB (commonly found on phones and tablets).

USB Type C is a brand new USB connector that’s only a tiny bit larger than Micro USB and more versatile than other kinds of USB ports. For one, USB C connectors are reversible: You don’t need to figure out which way is the right side up as you do with other USB connectors. It also has a higher theoretical data rate, but your devices will need to use the USB 3.1 standard in order to take advantage of it. Perhaps most importantly, it makes possible much higher power transmission; enough to serve as the power cord for lightweight laptops.

For now, only a few Android devices, such as the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, make use of USB C, but you can expect to see it on more phones and tablets as time goes by.

WakeLock: Typically, you aren’t going to want your phone to stay awake indefinitely—you’ll want it to go to sleep after a set amount of time to prevent its battery from running out at an inopportune time. But once in a while, an app will need to keep the phone awake: For example, you probably don’t want your phone’s screen shutting off if you’re in the middle of a video chat, or while following step-by-step directions in your car.

This is where WakeLock comes into play: It’s a developer feature built into Android that lets an app force your phone to stay awake so it can carry out some sort of tasks. An app developer can choose to keep the screen awake or switch the screen off but keep the CPU running. (Technically, only the CPU-wake feature is known as a “wake lock,” but in casual use, the name is used to describe both functions.) 


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