5 Terms You Must Know When Using a Smart Phone

Posted on Posted in Android, App, Hotspot, iPhone, NFC, Smart Phones, Tethering, Toggle, Widget, Windows Phone


It seems as though everyone has a smartphone these days. Even your grandparents or great grandparents seem to own a smartphone. A smartphone gives you the world at your fingertips.

Smartphones also come with a brand new language. Terms that we may be familiar with, and others that will appear quite foreign to a user. Some of the words sound made up. Who even knows what toggling means? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide, or at least have something to help us familiarize ourselves with these new terms?

Specialized dictionaries are nonexistent, but luckily I’ve picked out the top 15 most common words used, related to using your smartphone. If you can think of other terms that you are unfamiliar with, I would love to hear from you!

# 1 Widgets 

Some of you may have heard of a widget, and others are probably scratching their heads wondering what I’m talking about.

Widgets are small applications with limited functionality, often installed within a webpage or on a desktop device. In a webpage, a widget will be some form of displayed image that can lead you to more information or links to click on. An example would b a badge, snippet of some info, or a follow button on a blog site.

On a computer, widgets will take the form of different tools for you to use, such as clocks, daily weather, travel information, event countdowns, and so forth. The first appearance of widgets on the Windows Operating System was on Windows Vista which included that big clock, a CPU meter, and image slide show. Early forms of web widgets provided functions such as link counters or those annoying advertising banners on webpages.

In 2012, Microsoft changed this policy to advise widget users to disable these from their PCs out of security concerns.

For your mobile device, a widget has the exact same purpose and function. It is simply made for a phone or tablet. Widgets are downloadable applications that act like traditional apps with implemented web technologies using various computer coding languages. They are just limited versions of the app, and can be used on the Android Phone, Windows Phone, and iPhone.

# 2 App

App is probably the most common term you will hear when using a smartphone. Especially with iPhone’s original commercial coining the phrase, “there’s an app for that”. Well what in the world is an app anyhow?

The mobile app is a computer “application” created specifically to run on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. It’s just a shortened version of the term, Application Software. In 2010, it was listed as word of the year by the American Dialect Society. App is now a common and trending word in our regular dialogue.

Technology columnist, David Pogue said that smartphones could be named “app phones” to distinguish them from the basic feature phones.

Most smartphones are sold with several pre-installed apps, which include a web browser, email client, calendar, calculator, or some form of media app which you can purchase music, videos, or e-books. While some pre-installed apps can be removed by your devices uninstalling process to leave more storage space, many do not due to carriers or manufacturers desire to use their software. When this is the case, some devices can be jailbroken, or rooted to remove these undesired apps.

Other apps that do not come pre-installed with your smartphone are most often available through your devices application platform. These mobile application platforms are usually distributed through the phone’s operating system such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, Blackberry World, Amazon App Store, and Samsung Galaxy Apps.

Some apps are free and others can be bought, and can also be downloaded directly to your laptop or computer. Because apps that cost money only have about 20-30% of the profits go to the distributing platform such as iTunes or Windows for instance, the same app can cost different amounts on different operating systems.

A user can even “sideload” apps to their phone and get apps from other alternative marketplaces. Apps can help you organize your life, help run a business, entertain you for hours.

# 3 Tethering or Hostspot

Often times you will see these two used interchangeably. There are slight differences between tethering and creating a mobile hotspot.

These terms refer to the ability to apply your mobile data (cellular internet) to your computer. In other words, you are able to use your smartphone’s cellular carriers internet for your computer tablet when Wi-Fi is not accessible.

Let’s begin with tethering. Every smartphone is made to tether, utilizing your personal cellular data by connecting a USB cable from your phone to your computer.

First off, you can’t just plug your phone in and expect the internet to immediately work. Tethering is built natively into an Android device. Almost every US cellular carrier makes this feature difficult to use, making it a separate feature on your phone plan you have to pay to use. Personally I find this absurd as a customer who is already paying for this carriers data, I feel I should be able to use this data in any way I want.

Apple doesn’t approve of tethering at all, as it has zero tethering apps in their App Store. If you jailbreak your iPhone, you can download a tethering app from an alternative app store such as Cydia.

While tethering can be used by connecting your USB cord from your phone to your computer, you can also use your devices bluetooth to tether your phone to both a computer as well as tablet. This way no matter which form of tethering you use, you are able to connect your device to internet when Wi-Fi or internet is not available.

Creating a hotspot out of your smartphone is only slightly different from tethering.

Not all smartphones are created equal. What does this mean? Well, some were made to tether and others were not. That’s why there are apps to turn your smartphone into a hotspot. Well, what’s a hotspot?

A hotspot allows one mobile device with data to connect to many others devices and use that devices internet connection. This gives you the ability to connect to multiple devices to your mobile devices data. Often times carriers do not want you to use this feature without paying an extra fee for it.

The reason why carriers don’t want you to use this already built-in feature is because you could technically run a home office if you had an unlimited data plan, utilizing over 100 GB of data or internet usage! I know, I use to do it and would receive warning messages saying I am in the top 5% of users who have a higher than average data usage and will have my data slowed down.

There are apps to block carriers from seeing use for this, just as there are apps to help you tether or hotspot without your carriers extra fee. Sometimes you may need to root or jailbreak your smartphone. Apps such as FoxFi or TetherMe can help you utilize these features, but only for certain phones firmware.

Being able to use your smartphones internet for other devices is a great feature and very convenient if you are not near any other source of internet. Just be aware that the more devices connected, the slower the internet connection may be.

# 4 NFC & Bluetooth

Bluetooth isn’t some form of a disease you get discoloring your tooth. Bluetooth also has nothing to do with Harald Bluetooth, the medieval King of Denmark.

Well, almost nothing.

The term bluetooth refers to a wireless technology connecting your mobile device to a personal computer or gaming console. It exchanges data from short distances, using short wavelength radio waves to communicate with one device to the other.

So what does a radio wavelength have to do with Harald Bluetooth, the King of Denmark? When this technology was being invented in 1997, a fellow by the name of Jim Kardach was reading a historical novel entitled, The Long Ships. This book was about the vikings and King Harold Bluetooth, who was recorded to be the one responsible for uniting Danish tribes into one kingdom.

Inspired by this novel, Kardach developed a system that would allow mobile phones to communicate with computers, and proposed the name Bluetooth.

It was originally intended solely as a replacement for cables to wirelessly connect phones to headsets, computers, keyboards and mice. Over the past decade however, Bluetooth technology has increased to include over 9  billion Bluetooth devices in the world today!

It has allowed devices in close proximity to connect with minimal battery power. While we most often see Bluetooth headsets, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) they are just one of the many products that can provide this wireless technology. Bluetooth technology essentially allows you to connect one device to another whether it is a phone to a computer, or your Beats by Dre Headphones.

One device is usually the main device, while the other is controlled by this, or a master and slave device if you will.

While NFC also allows a fast and easy way to connect to devices using short wave radio frequency, it has far less of a range. Hence the name Near Field Communication or NFC.

It may seem as though NFC is a new form of technology, as it has become an industry standard to have it implemented in all the new smartphones. In 1983, radio frequency identification was patented, which involved contactless credit cards, essentially being the earliest form of NFC.

The downside to this new technology was that it did not have two way communication, which made radio frequency identification less secure than NFC. The industry standard changed to NFC in 2003, and in 2007 was the unveiling of the first fully integrated NFC smartphone by Nokia, the Nokia 6131 NFC.

Surprisingly not that new. It is a small chip that

Because NFC has a short-range connectivity, it is slightly more secure than Bluetooth, as it cannot be hacked in as easily due to a mere 4 cm range for connectivity. This just means that if you have NFC active on your smartphone, no one is able to just connect to your phone unless they are uncomfortably close to you.

When your smartphone is close to another NFC enabled smartphone, it can swap data such as pictures, contact info, and other types of files including app sharing capabilities. Google Wallet or Apple Pay has taken this technology, and created a wireless tap to pay, for selected retailers including Walgreens & McDonald’s.

The new Android Pay comes native to any Android Phone where you do not need to open an app and type in a pin to use. Simply place your phone to any wireless accepted retailer and it will automatically connect to the credit cards you have programmed.

Windows Phones are slowly working on a similar wireless payment app called Windows Payment.

A great feature of NFC is that a user can utilize NFC to pair Bluetooth devices such as speakers or headphones at a much faster rate than pairing your device through the Bluetooth. These devices have to have an NFC log stating they are also capable of utilizing the NFC chip.

Smartphones such as the Nexus 6, Sony Xperia Z3,iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, LG G3, HTC One M9 all come equipped with NFC and it seems to be the growing standard. If you bought a tablet, the Google Nexus 9, iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 all have NFC chips. Even the smart watches are coming NFC supported.so you can utilize their pay systems.

I guess the only downside to this amazing technology is that it does not come with built-in security. The good news is NFC is only active when it needs to be and uses minimal battery power. Even if you leave it on in your pocket, the NFC chip won’t actually be functioning which is a plus for security reasons.

NFC also stores your purchase information or other transferred information. Stores can use this stored information to send advertisements to what they may think you want based on previously purchased items. The main concern for some is that shops will sell this information to third parties.
NFC can also be utilized to open up webpages through using a smart tag. There are tags on all types of merchandise from magazines, to the clothes you wear that you can scan and receive information about.
You could even have one on your restaurant’s menu and download information on our favorite dish from the ingredients, to the nutritional facts!
Whichever wireless connection you use, they are both pretty amazing features to utilize on your smartphone.
# 5 Toggle

While toggle isn’t necessarily a unique word, it is an odd sounding one.

The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary definition of toggle is “A setting that can be switched between two different options by pressing a single key, making a single choice from a menu, etc.”

If you have heard someone say, “toggle” the application on your phone, all they are saying is they want you to switch from one view of the application to another. Or if you are told to toggle the Wi-Fi on and off, it merely means you are to turn the Wi-Fi on or off by pushing the Wi-Fi button in the task bar of your Smartphone (usually by swiping down from the top screen for Android or up from the bottom screen for iPhones).

It’s just one of those funny words that is used when using a smartphone I thought I would quickly touch upon. Like toggling on/off Bluetooth or NFC. It just means pushing the icon for these in the taskbars of your smartphone.

There are so many terms that come with the use of smartphones. If you want to see more, please check out a large list here for technical terms.

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