App Glossary + Understanding App Terminology
I know how frustrating it can be to read articles from TechCrunch or Forbes and feel completely lost. It is important as developers that we set aside time to improve our app IQ and stay current in this fast paced industry.
But if you’re like me and spend more time in Wikipedia looking up terms than reading about the mobile market – it can feel like a losing battle.
A peer of mine (who is consistently on the Top Charts) reached out in a large forum on Bluecloud Select and stated his frustration when it comes to app lingo. To my surprise SEVERAL others also commented on the thread that they too have trouble with app terminology.
After doing some research I noticed there isn’t a quality app glossary out there, so I decided to do something about it. The good news is, these terms are for the most part very straightforward and you don’t need a bachelors degree in Computer Science to grasp the definition.
You don’t have to understand every term and phrase to be a successful app developer (I don’t) – but what IS important, is that you continue to read and improve your app knowledge and IQ.
[tweet_box design=”default”]Bookmark this post to quickly reference all app terms and acronyms. And don’t forget to share this glossary with other app developers who need it.[/tweet_box]
To find a term quickly, use:
- Mac – Command+F
- Windows – Control+F
This resource is updated constantly.
A/B testing – Testing two or more variations of app elements to see which one performs better. Examples could be buttons, background colors, icons, screenshots, fonts, and app content.
Ad network – Allows app developers to create customized interstitial and video ads, promote new apps, and swap traffic with other developers.
Analytics – the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Developers use analytics to track the actions of mobile app users within an app.
Android Application Package file (APK) – A file format used to deliver mobile apps to Android devices for testing or distribution.
App builds – Compiling a mobile app code into a finished mobile app product. A packaged/compiled version of your mobile app software.
App developer – A person that creates apps for mobile devices.
App development – The process of creating apps for mobile devices.
App distribution – The process of getting a mobile app to end users. Ready for sale on a mobile market like Google Play.
App package – The final output of the app development process. An app package is deployable to an app store.
App Store Optimization (ASO) – The process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in search results. The better your ASO, the more likely your app will reach millions of devices. ASO is inextricably linked to an app’s success. Learn more about ASO here.
App store ranking – The position an app is indexed in the app store based on downloads, sales, usage, and retention.
App store rating – A scale that describes your app as a quality and maturity indicator. App store ratings are submitted by developers to help screen users before downloading a mobile app.
App templates – A quality source code developed to make edits as easy as possible. App templates primarily come with source codes, tech guides, asset sheets, and other resources that help walkthrough developers.
App Unites – The number of first-time app purchases made on the App Store using iOS 8 or later. App updates, downloads from the same Apple ID onto other devices, and re-downloads to the same device are not counted.
Application Programming Interface (API) – Rules and guidelines that tell you what you can and cannot do within a framework. Put simply, an API is one piece of software that asks another program to perform a service.
Asset – Any item (text or media) that is designed to go into an app to serve a purpose. Examples of digital assets are icons, screenshot, text, buttons, backgrounds, etc.
Beta testing – The process of testing a pre-released version of a mobile app
Binary file – A file whose content must be interpreted by a program or a hardware processor that understands in advance exactly how it is formatted. Typically, coders upload a binary from an environment like Xcode to make an app submittable to the app store.
Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors to a website that only view one page within the site – this is the one page they entered the site on. There is no metric for bounce rate with apps, but developers do measure bounce rates with websites, blogs, and pages affiliated to their apps.
Bugs – An error, flaw, failure, or fault in a mobile application.
Bundle ID – An identifier for an app. An app cannot be submitted to iTunes Connect before it has been assigned a Bundle ID. Developers must create a Bundle ID before submitting an app to iTunes Connect. Learn how to create a Bundle ID here.
Cross-platform app – An app that is developed to target more than one platform, using a single programming language to do so. For example, apps developed in Unity and Cocos2d-x can be exported to both iOS and Android platforms.
Debugging – The process of identifying, tracing, and removing bugs from a mobile application
Developer Certificate – A developer certificate takes two forms, development and distribution. Accompanied with a provisioning profile, a developer certificate is required when testing or submitting an app to the iOS store. Learn how to create a developer certificate here.
Distributions – The process of putting an app out in a market for consumers.
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End User – The person an app was intended for.
Expedited app review – Requesting an app review be accomplished more quickly than usual. These circumstances include fixing a critical bug in an app on the App Store or releasing an app to coincide with an event the development team is directly associated with.
In-App Purchase (IAP) – The purchase of goods and services from an application on a mobile device. In-app purchases allow developers to provide additional features and upgrades to an application for a profit.
In-app messages – Are notifications displayed while the user is active within the app itself. Not to be confused with push notifications.
Internationalization (i18N) – The design and development of an application that enables easy localization for target audiences, regions, or language. Put simply, creating an app to include multiple versions that each serve up a specific language.
Iterations – An edit, add-on, or updated version of a mobile app.
Localization – The process of adapting an application to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel.” Localization can include translating a mobile app’s content text, images, video, and more for a particular locale market.
Location Based Services (LBS) – A service that utilizes a user’s geolocation to provide functionality. Some services allow consumers to “check in” at restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and more.
Metadata – Data that defines and markets an app to consumers. Metadata includes title, keywords, description, icon, screenshots, company name, and category.
Mobile Traffic – Users that visit an app page, download an app, or engage in an action within an app. Developers are always looking to increase mobile traffic.
Native app – An app that has been developed for a particular platform or device.
Outsourcing – contracting work to others. Developers outsource work to help scale businesses, cut costs, and free up time.
Platform – The hardware and software specifications required to develop and publish apps. The iOS platform is specified and maintained by Apple. The Android platform is specified and maintained by Google Play and Amazon.
Provisioning profiles – A digital entities that uniquely ties developers and devices to an authorized iPhone Development Team and enables a device to be used for testing. A Development Provisioning Profile must be installed on each device on which you wish to run your application code. Likewise, a Distribution Provisioning Profile must be installed on a computer when submitting a binary. Provisioning profiles must be accompanied with a developer certificate. Learn how to create provisioning profiles here.
Push notification – Simple messages from apps installed on a device that alert the user with a message displayed on the home or lock screen. Developers use push notifications for reminders, engagement, or to notify of an update.
Reskin – The process of changing an app’s graphics, but keeping the code as close to its original state as possible. Developers skin apps to test different markets and publish multiple applications cost efficiently. For examples, check here.
Resources – App files and images that define the layout of an app. Icons, screenshots, buttons, background, etc.
Retention – How many users have your mobile app and consistently use it.
Retina images – Images used for optimizing apps to high resolution. Some newer mobile devices have screens that pack twice as many pixels into the same space as older devices.
Sessions – A single period of user interaction within an app. Developers use sessions to measure activity, which includes screen views, events, and ecommerce transactions.
Skinning – The process of changing an app’s graphics, but keeping the code as close to its original state as possible. Developers skin apps to test different markets and publish multiple applications cost efficiently. For examples, check here.
Source code – Another way to say app template. It’s a framework that you can buy from other developers and on marketplaces.
Simulator – Allows coders to rapidly prototype and test builds of an app during the development process. Simulators are tools installed with IDEs like Xcode, Unity, and others.
Software Development Kit (SDK) – A set of tools that can be used to develop software applications targeting a specific platform such as Facebook or Chartboost. For example, the Facebook SDK allows developers to add Facebook features into an app.
Unique Device Identifier (UDID) – A 40-character alphanumeric series that identifies a specific mobile device. Typically UDIDs are used for developers to assign specific devices for testing an application with services like Test Flight.
Universal app – A single app that can run on both iphone and tablet devices. Universal apps make it easier for users to download the same app on different devices.
User engagement – How frequently users open and interact with a mobile app. User engagement is an important metric that directly correlates with retention.
Vector images – Unlike a JPEG, a vector image can be scaled without the image pixelating (changing resolution). These are generally used for assets which may not be made to their final size. Vector images are predominantly created using Adobe Illustrator.
Whales – Big spenders in the mobile space. Whales can be customers that generate the most revenue for app developers, or a business partners that buy up app networks for traffic.
Wireframes – A blueprint or skeletal guide that represents the functionality and navigation of an app. A wireframe can be done on a napkin, or using software like balsamiq.
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API – Application Programming Interface. The rules and guidelines that tell you what you can and cannot do within a framework. Put simply, an API is one piece of software that asks another program to perform a service.
APK – Android Application Package. A file format used to deliver mobile apps to Android devices for testing or distribution.
B2B – Business-to-Business. Instead of going straight to the consumer with an app, developers targeting actual businesses – doctors, restaurants, IT firms, etc.
eCPM – Effective Cost Per Thousand Impressions. eCPMs are used primarily with ad networks when assessing the revenue of an ad campaign. To calculate the total eCPM of an app, divide total earnings by the total impressions or views.
CPC – Cost Per Click. Simply put, the amount spent to get an advertisement clicked. Developers use CPC campaigns to direct traffic to websites or apps, in which advertisers pay the publisher when the ad is clicked.
CPI – Cost Per Install. The amount spent to receive an install. Developers use services like Facebook, Tapjoy, Chartboost, etc… to purchase app installs.
CSR – Certificate Signing Request. A digital file containing personal information generated from a developer’s computer. A CSR is needed to create certificates and provisioning profiles for app development on iOS. Learn how to generate a CSR file here.
CSV – Common Separated Values file. CSV files allow data to be saved in a table structured format similar to a spreadsheet. It is a good idea to have information in a CSV format for uploading/downloading app data such as email lists, names, purchases, etc.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions.
FTP – File Transfer Protocol. A standard network protocol used to upload/download files from a server over the internet. FTPs can be used by developers to integrate content or resources dynamically in an app, or to upload/download data stored on a server related to an app.
GUI – Graphic User Interface. An interface that allows users to interact through graphical icons and visual indicators. A user should be able to navigate freely without having to read or be prompted with text.
IAP – In-App Purchase. The purchase of goods and services from an application on a mobile device. In-app purchases allow developers to provide additional features and upgrades to an application for a profit.
IDE – Integrated Development Environment. A software application that allows computer programmers to code software for mobile development. A common IDE would be Xcode for Apple, or Eclipse for Android.
IPA – An archived file which stores an iOS app. .ipa files are typically used for to transfer an app to a device for testing. For Android, developers use an APK.
LBS – Location Based Services. A service that utilizes a user’s geolocation to provide functionality. Some services allow consumers to “check in” at restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and more.
LTV – Lifetime Value. The user LTV is the definitive metric when it comes to quantifying your app’s success over time. Analyzing the LTV of a user ‘can’ be defined by the cost to acquire a user, the quality of user, and the cost to retain the user.
OS – Operating System. The most important program on a device. Apple mobile devices use iOS to perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and more.
SDK – Software Development Kit. A set of tools that can be used to develop software applications targeting a specific platform such as Facebook or Chartboost. For example, the Facebook SDK allows developers to add Facebook features into an app.
UDID – Unique Device Identifier. A 40-character alphanumeric series that identifies a specific mobile device. Typically UDIDs are used for developers to assign specific devices for testing an application with services like Test Flight.
UI – User Interface. The look and feel of your app. This includes design, menus and other elements of the app that the user sees.
UX – User Experience. The overall experience of a person using a mobile application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.
For more resources, be sure to visit our resources page. It will give you a TON of websites, software and tools that the best app developers are currently using.
If you have an app term you would like added, leave a comment below and we will add it to the list immediately.