There’s a whole new language around apps

But don’t worry. If your brand or business is new to apps we’ve listed the most frequently used new terms you’ll need to become familiar with.


3G and 4G

3G stands for the third generation of mobile communications. 3G phones enable high-speed Internet access, video/audio streaming and downloads and video calls. Apple is expected to release a 4G phone in summer 2010.



The accelerometer is effectively a motion detector that can tell how the device is being held. For games this means the whole device can be used like a steering wheel, tilting left and right to move direction. The accelerometer has been used widely for ‘shake’ functionality, where users can shake the phone to request a new action, like rolling dice, reordering a list of restaurants or shuffling fashion looks on a catwalk model. The accelerometer has also been a big part of the explosion in health apps, as the technology can be used to count steps or detect movements in body position, that could be used to monitor training regimes.



The Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy and Sony Experia ranges use the Android open source operating system. It’s now the world’s most widely-used operating system, although in many areas more apps many be used by iOS users and often Apple users spend more on in-app purchases than Android users.



Apps is short for applications, small software programs that use smartphone functionality to provide services, utilities and entertainment. A simple application could combine the phone’s in-built calendar with GPS positioning and a database of store locations to create a service that reminded the user of birthdays and could recommend a useful gift store within 5 minutes’ walk. Or it could simple take the order there and then if the app had commerce functionality – a storefront, checkout and payment facility.


App stores

Applications for the iPhone can only be downloaded from the Apple App Store, which can only be accessed via an iTunes account. Apps for Android devices are available from Google’s Play store, plus a number of independent app stores. Apps for Windows Phone are available through the Microsoft Store.



GPS is the main technology used by apps that determine your location. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites, orbiting at 12,000 miles above the earth. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. Most ‘recreation grade’ GPS receivers used in smartphones are accurate to within 10-15 meters on average. When a device like the iPhone doesn’t have a clear line of sight to a GPS satellite it will locate using wi-fi location information and the phone signals generated by the cellular towers that deliver your phone calls.



Some smartphones like the iPhone and Android Galaxy range offer multi-touch screens – the user has the ability to use multiple fingers and actions (double tapping expands the screen on the iPhone, for example). These features are useful for expanding text and images on websites that aren’t optimised for smartphones.


Push Notification

All of the mobile operating systems offer the ability to notify users of updates and other messages without having to send an email. The advantage is that messages are ‘pushed’ instantly direct to the handset rather than users having to ‘pull’ in messages via an email, for example.


Second Wave

A term coined by We Are Apps to describe the significant change in consumer behaviour that is being seen with smartphones. Internet-enabled PC’s changed the way we communicate, search for information and even shop. Smartphone users find that they start to do all of the things they did on a laptop or desk-based PC, but they can do it anywhere and this means they can do it instantly. This significant change in operation has drastically reduced the time-to-action between discovery and purchase.



Smartphones are a combination of mobile phone and digital assistant – offering much of the functionality of a small personal computer. They are typified by having larger screen, often with touchscreen capability. When We Are Apps refer to smartphones we usually mean ‘high end’ devices like the iPhone, Galaxy ‘S’ range from Samsung and so on that offer a high quality range of functions and capabilities supported by mature apps store offering users literally millions of apps to download and use.


Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and many other mobile phone manufacturers came together to form the Symbian alliance and produce the Symbian platform used on their smartphones. These days Symbian’s marketshare is rapidly being taken by Android and Windows Phone devices, with few of our clients producing apps for this platform.



Web-enabled apps pull content in from web-based sources. This has the advantage of being able to update content regularly, including in real time. However, if internet connection is lost, web-enabled apps can’t work. Another advantage of web-enabled apps is that less code has to be developed to make them work on more than one platform. Native apps can be expensive to produce for more than one smartphone platform. We Are Apps can advise on the best build policy, including profiling your target audience to smartphone usage to determine the most appropriate phones to create apps for.