All of the terms used commonly in the Android community can be confusing, and the entirely new vocabulary can be overwhelming. This dictionary provides a place for you to quickly find a term, so that the next time you see "this ROM does not contain a radio or a recovery image" you can understand what's going on.

If there is a word or phrase you feel should be included, feel free to add the word, a definition can be added later.


.apk: see "APK"

.zip: usually the format of boot animations, ROMs, and themes


a2sd: see "apps2sd"

adb: Android debug bridge; included in the Android SDK as a way of communicating with the device

alpha: used to describe very unstable software (of any kind); not for daily use; usually followed by a beta stage. Also alpha could be opacity value in #aarrggbb format color, aa could be anything between 00 to FF in hexadecimal value.

ANR: application not responding; when Android provides a dialog to the user that has the option to wait or force close the application; usually caused by a developer doing time-consuming tasks in the UI thread rather than a background thread, service, or AsyncTask

AOSP: Android Open Source Project; in general, when a ROM is referred to as "AOSP" it is built from the Android source, and not from a precompiled version (like what shipped with your device)

APK: application package; type of file used to contain Android applications and their resources

apps2sd: moving one's apps to the SD card to free up space on a device's internal flash storage; allows more apps to be installed; this function became a feature of all Android releases after (and including) 2.2 Froyo


baseband: see "radio"

beta: not ideal for daily use, but relatively stable software; usually the last testing stage before release

bloatware: excess software; to be considered "bloat", this software cannot be uninstalled by the user

bootloader: software that loads an operating system into memory; locked bootloaders refuse to load non-manufacturer software (i.e. custom ROMs)

boot loop: when a device is unable to boot completely, and constantly reboots itself; usually caused by stale caches (wipe data partition) or init script errors

brick: when a device is rendered useless; sometimes referred to as "paperweight"; see also: "soft brick"

bug: an error or flaw in software resulting in unintended behavior

busybox: a single multicall binary that packages the functionality of most widely used standard Unix tools


ClockworkMod recovery: a modification of the standard Android recovery; see also: "Custom recovery"

CM: see "CyanogenMod"

cook: a developer who uses a kitchen to create their ROMs

Custom recovery: a replacement for the stock Android recovery; provides the ability to perform nandroid backups and restores, flash ROMs, wipe partitions, partition SD cards (for Apps2SD), etc;

CyanogenMod: an AOSP derivative that provides functionality, usability, security, and overall performance upgrades to the standard Android stack


Dalvik [VM]:

Dalvik cache:

de-odex: the removal of "odex" files in a ROM; this is usually done for theming you need to deodex everything.

developer: An individual that creates, or alters a file in such a manner as to advance the program


FC: force close; when an application encounters a fatal error, and the Android system provides a dialog alerting the user of this error

firmware: the software running on and operating a device

flash: writing data to disk; synonymous with install in most cases; ex: "flash this ROM", "flash the boot.img"


JIT: just-in-time compiling; a major feature of Android 2.2 (Froyo)'s Dalvik VM


kang: the re-branding of another developer's work without their permission; such a person can be described as a "kanger"

kernel: the essential component to any CPU. This is the program that has total control of how the system operates. It is what controls the timing and order of when the commands are executed, and also to make sure they do not interfere with each other. It also controls managing memory, process and file execution.

kitchen: an application that provides a ROM "cook" with a user friendly interface for "cooking" their ROMs


metamorph [theme]: a theme that can be applied using the Metamorph app, found on the Android Market

mod: to modify or to make modifications to; someone can mod a stock firmware and turn it into a custom one, or someone can mod another developer's work



'Nandroid or Nandroid Backup:' A file typically created in the custom recovery program, such as SPRecovery, that is a carbon copy of whatever state your phone is in before a drastic change is made. the file then can be moved onto or off of the SD card for later use in case something should go wrong in the ROM or Update, or a Boot Loop occurs


odex: APKs contain certain .odex files whose supposed function is to save space

OS: Operating system, I.E. Windows Vista or MAC or ANDROID

overclock: the ability to override the factory cpu speed. In essence, it will make the device run faster, but has several drawbacks if not used correctly. IE...overheating, permanent damage to cpu, etc...

overlay: a manufacturer's custom skin for Android (usually includes alternate versions of regular apps as well); ex: HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, Motorola MotoBlur


radio: the GSM/CDMA radio of the phone, responsible for sending and receiving calls and text messages; also related to 4G/3G/2G data transmission

recovery: see Custom recovery

RIL: acronym for Radio Interface Layer; the layer of the Android OS that handles communications with the radio

ROM: acronym for Read-Only Memory; commonly used among the Android and Windows Mobile communities as a synonym for custom firmware

ROM cook/chef: see "cook"

Root:Common word associated with giving a user "super user" access to their phones programming and other various aspects that would normally not be possible, also known as "Jailbroken" for iPhone's


SDK: acronym for software development kit; provides tools used for developing on a platform

Shell or SSH: secure shell or ssh is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices

Stock: Simply means an unaltered state, such as when you first purchase your phone, or when you do a factory reset.


swap: space on a disk used as the virtual memory extension of a computer/phone's real memory (RAM)


Theme: A set of icons, backgrounds and app trays that change the ascthetics of the overall look of the device and its applications

TUN/TAP: Refers to a network Tunnel, operates within layer 3 packets, or ip packets. Packets sent by a system via a TUN/TAP device are delivered to a user-space program that attaches itself to the device. A user space program may also pass packets into a TUN/TAP device. In this case TUN/TAP device delivers (or "injects") these packets to the operating system's network stack thus emulating their reception from an external source.


Underclocking: Slowing down the CPU mainly to limit battery usage


vaporware: software that is suspected to not exist