Smartphone jargon

Stacey King

Love them or loathe them, smartphones are fast-becoming the UK user's mobile of choice. If, however, you're one of those who is overwhelmed by the bewildering language of smartphone specs and tech, or don't know your Androids from your Apples, here are a few essential pointers to put you on the right track.

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Operating system
The operating system (OS) is the software that makes everything work, just as it does on your home computer. The three most common names you'll hear are Android, developed by Google, Blackberry, available on BlackBerry phones and often favoured by business users, and Apple iOS, the iPhone operating system that boasts more than 500,000 apps and compatibility with all your other Apple products. Windows Phone is for you if you're after the familiarity of Microsoft.

The brains behind your smartphone, the processor allows your mobile to do all kinds of wonderful things like watching videos and running apps simultaneously, without slowing things down to a crawl. The more powerful the processor, the quicker everything happens on your phone.

A downloadable piece of software (application) designed to do... well, pretty much whatever you can think of. Sometimes free and rarely costing more than a few pounds, there are hundreds of thousands of apps available to help you with whatever you need (or don't need), from translation to games. Different operating systems allow you to download from different app stores, with Apple coming out on top for sheer quantity.

Stands for the third generation of wireless technologies. Still none the wiser? Basically the 3G network allows high-speed web access, allowing you to stream video and audio, download, upload and surf the net without that old feeling of a slow-moving dial-up connection. It's now widely-used among smartphone manufacturers but is soon to be upgraded to 4G.

These all relate to the smartphone screen and its ever-improving picture quality. HD, just as on your TV, provides high definition screen resolution for sharp images, TFT (thin film transistor) is the technology used on flat screen TVs to provide excellent image quality, while and AMOLED screen offers vivid colours, wide viewing angles and clarity that will allow you to see what's on the screen even in bright light.

Capacitive screen
An alternative to the resistive screen, in essence, the capacitive touchscreen is all about how you control your phone. Instead of pressing the screen, all that is needed is a gentle touch or swipe.

MicroSD memory card
Similar to a digital camera, this tiny memory card clicks straight into your phone, boosting its memory giving you more room for photos, videos, music and apps.

Augmented reality
Or AR as it's commonly known, effectively super-imposes computer-generated content onto the real world, as seen through the camera on your mobile phone, for example. An AR app can reveal places of interest wherever you happen to be, show you the way home with GPS (that's a Global Positioning System to you and me), point out the constellations of the night sky or even show you exactly what that sofa will look like in your living room. Simply point your camera and the information will appear.