Mobile Computing Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing mobile computing and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

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  • M

    Mobile IP

    Mobile IP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard communications protocol that is designed to allow mobile device users to move from one network to another while maintaining their permanent IP address.

  • Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6 or Mobile Internet Protocol version 6)

    Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6) is a protocol developed as a subset of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to support mobile connections.

  • mobile malware

    Mobile malware is malicious software specifically written to attack mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.

  • mobile marketing

    Mobile marketing is promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smart phones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign.

  • mobile node

    A mobile node is an Internet-connected device whose location and point of attachment to the Internet may frequently be changed.

  • mobile operating system

    A mobile operating system (OS) is software that allows smartphones, tablet PCs (personal computers) and other devices to run applications and programs.

  • mobile payment (m-payment)

    Mobile payment is a point-of-sale transaction made through a mobile device.

  • mobile phone virus

    A mobile phone virus is a computer virus specifically adapted for the cellular environment and designed to spread from one vulnerable phone to another. (Continued...)

  • mobile platform as a service (MPaaS)

    Mobile Platform as a Service (mPaaS) is the paid provision of an Interactive Development Environment (IDE) for the creation of mobile apps.

  • mobile printing

    Mobile printing is the process of sending data to a printer wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet.

  • mobile productivity app (mobile productivity application)

    A mobile productivity app is a software program that allows smartphone, tablet and wearable device users to perform essential day-to-day tasks.

  • mobile satellite services (MSS)

    Mobile satellite services (MSS) refers to networks of communications satellites intended for use with mobile and portable wireless telephones.

  • mobile search

    Mobile search is the practice of querying a search engine from an Internet-connected handheld device, such as a smart phone.

  • Mobile service provider

    A mobile service provider (MSP) is a company that offers mobile communication services to users of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs.

  • Mobile Threat Defense (MTD)

    Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) is a security software meant to protect organizations and individual users from security threats on mobile platforms.

  • mobile UI (mobile user interface)

    A mobile UI is the user interface on a mobile device, usually including a touch screen display and all the other elements of the device that allow the user to interact with it.

  • mobile virtualization

    Mobile virtualization is an approach to mobile device management in which two virtual platforms are installed on a single wireless device. 

  • mobile VPN (mobile virtual private network)

    A mobile VPN is a networking configuration that enables mobile devices such as notebook computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access a virtual private network (VPN) or an intranet while moving from one place to another... (Continued)

  • mobile workforce management (MWM)

    Mobile workforce management (MWM) is a category of software and related services used to manage employees working outside the company premises; the term is often used in reference to field teams.

  • mobile-to-mobile convergence (MMC)

    Mobile-to-mobile convergence (MMC) is a technology that facilitates the interoperability of mobile communications devices without the need for any fixed capabilities or proprietary service provider... (Continued)

  • MobileIron

    MobileIron is a company that provides management and security software for mobile apps, content and devices.

  • mobility agent

    In Mobile Internet Protocol (Mobile IP), a mobility agent is a router that facilitates Internet traffic forwarding for a mobile node when its location is changed to somewhere other than its home network.

  • Mobitex

    Mobitex is a wireless network architecture that specifies a framework for the fixed equipment necessary to support all the wireless terminals in a packet-switched, radio-based communication system.

  • modem

    A modem modulates outgoing digital signals from a computer or other digital device to analog signals for a conventional copper twisted pair telephone line and demodulates the incoming analog signal and converts it to a digital signal for the digital device.

  • multi-touch

    Multi-touch, in a computing context, is an interface technology that enables input through pressure and gestures on multiple points on the surface of a device.

  • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

    Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) - sometimes called Multimedia Messaging System - is a communications technology developed by 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) that allows users to exchange multimedia communications between capable mobile phones and other devices.

  • myoelectric signal (motor action potential)

    A myoelectric signal, also called a motor action potential, is an electrical impulse that produces contraction of muscle fibers in the body.

  • N

    NANDroid backup

    NANDroid backups are typically created by Android device owners who have gained root access to their phone’s operating system in order to use aftermarket distributions of the Android OS.

  • narrowband

    Generally, narrowband describes telecommunication that carries voice information in a narrow band of frequencies.

  • Near Field Communication (NFC)

    Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity standard (Ecma-340, ISO/IEC 18092) that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they're touched together, or brought within a few centimeters of each other.

  • NetPC (Network PC)

    The Net PC (also referred to as the Network PC) is an industry specification for a low-cost personal computer designed for businesses and their network applications.

  • Nexus

    Nexus is a series of smartphones and tablets manufactured by Google and its hardware partners. Nexus devices run the native Android operating system.

  • Nickel-Cadmium battery (Ni-Cd or NiCd)

    The Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery is a type of battery commonly used in portable computers, camcorders, portable drills, and other small battery-powered devices, having an effective and even power discharge.

  • Nickel-Metal Hydride battery (Ni-MH or NiMH)

    The Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery is a rechargeable power source that is increasingly used in portable computers and other devices.

  • no-swipe credit card

    A no-swipe credit card is a credit card equipped with a radio frequency (RF) transponder that allows for purchases without the need for passing the card through a traditional magnetic-stripe detection machine. The card holder can simply come within approximately 0.6 meter (2 feet) of the checkout terminal. The terminal emits a tone or displays a confirmation when the transaction has been authorized and payment made... (Continued)

  • NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)

    NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is an emergency broadcasting system operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, pronounced NO-ah).

  • Nokia Lumia

    Nokia Lumia is a series of touch-based Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 smartphones that debuted in 2011.

  • nomadicity

    Nomadicity is the tendency of a person, or group of people, to move with relative frequency.

  • notebook computer

    A notebook computer is a battery- or AC-powered personal computer generally smaller than a briefcase that can easily be transported and conveniently used in temporary spaces such as on airplanes, in libraries, temporary offices, and at meetings.

  • Novell Filr

    lNovell Filr is a VMware virtual appliance that uses an organization's existing infrastructure and security controls to provide end users with an online file-sharing service.

  • O

    Ogo

    Ogo is a handheld, battery powered, wireless communications device, released in 2004, that provides instant messaging (IM), text messaging, and e-mail for subscribers to America Online (AOL), the Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo!. The unit is contained in a clamshell case measuring approximately 4.5 x 3 bx 2 inches (11.5 by 7.5 by 2.5 centimeters) when closed.

  • OLPC (One Laptop Per Child)

    The One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) is an initiative aimed at providing inexpensive laptop computers to children in the developing world as a means of bridging the digital divide.

  • online file sharing service

    An online file sharing service provides a way to store and access documents, data, photos and video in the cloud rather than storing the information locally on a device hard drive or removable media.

  • Open Handset Alliance (OHA)

    The Open Handset Alliance (OHA) is a coalition of more than 30 technology and mobile companies that introduced Android, an open source mobile phone operating system. (Continued...)

  • Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP)

    Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP) is the name of Texas Instrument’s application processor

  • Opera

    Opera is a Web browser that provides some advantages over the two most popular browsers from Netscape and Microsoft...(Continued)

  • optical wireless

    Optical wireless refers to the conbined use of two technologies - conventional radio-frequency (RF) wireless and optical fiber - for telecommunication.

  • OTA update (over-the-air update)

    An over-the-air update is the wireless delivery of new software or data to mobile devices.

  • Over the Air (OTA)

    Over The Air (OTA) (or Over-The-Air) is a standard for the transmission and reception of application-related information in a wireless communications system.

  • P

    package manager or package management system (PMS)

    A package manager, also known as a package management system (PMS), is a program used to install, uninstall and manage software packages.

  • pager

    A pager is a small telecommunications device that receives (and, in some cases, transmits) alert signals and/or short messages.

  • Palm

    Palm is the trade name for a popular personal digital assistant (PDA), a form of handheld device that is also known as a palmtop computer.

  • Palm OS (Palm Operating System)

    Palm OS is the computer operating system that provides a software platform for the Palm series of handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) made by Palm Inc.

  • PC-DOS (Personal Computer - Disk Operating System)

    Also see DOS. PC-DOS (Personal Computer - Disk Operating System) was the first widely-installed operating system used in personal computers.

  • Pentium 4 (P4)

    Pentium 4 (P4) is the Intel processor (codenamed Willamette) that was released in November 2000. The P4 processor has a viable clock speed that now exceeds 2 gigahertz (GHz) - as compared to the 1 GHz of the Pentium 3. P4 had the first totally new chip architecture since the 1995 Pentium Pro.

  • peripheral

    A peripheral (pronounced peh-RIHF-uh-ruhl, a noun truncation of peripheral device, ) is any computer device that is not part of the essential computer (the processor, memory, and data paths) but is situated relatively close by.

  • personal area network (PAN)

    A personal area network (PAN) is the interconnection of information technology devices within the range of an individual person, typically within a range of 10 meters.

  • personal digital assistant (PDA)

    Personal digital assistants were the precursors to smartphones. Most PDAs had a small physical keyboard, and many types of applications were written for these devices.

  • personal operating space (POS)

    A personal operating space (POS) is a roughly spherical region that surrounds a portable or handheld digital wireless device operated by a person.

  • Personal Response System (PRS)

    In education, the Personal Response System (PRS) is an instructional technology tool composed of a proprietary software application that is installed on the facilitator's computer, a wireless receiver, and hand-held infrared transmitters that have been assigned to students to record their responses to multiple choice or yes/no questions.

  • phased antenna system

  • picture messaging (photo messaging)

    Picture messaging (sometimes called photo messaging) is the practice of taking a picture with a built-in camera on a mobile phone or other handheld device and sending it to another mobile device or an e-mail recipient.

  • podslurping (slurping)

    Podslurping (sometimes just called slurping) is the unauthorized download of data from a computer to a small device with storage capacity, such as a flash drive or an iPod or other MP3 player... (Continued)

  • policy

    In policy-based networking, a policy is a formal set of statements that define how the network's resources are to be allocated among its clients.

  • polite cell phone

    A polite cell phone is a mobile telephone with built-in intelligence so that it adapts to its current environment and behaves appropriately... (Continued)

  • portable computer

    A portable computer is a personal computer that is designed to be easily transported and relocated, but is larger and less convenient to transport than a notebook computer.

  • portable keyboard (handheld keyboard)

    A portable keyboard (or handheld keyboard) is one that is designed to be used with wireless devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones.

  • processor serial number (PSN)

    A PSN (processor serial number) is a software-readable unique serial number that Intel has stamped into its Pentium 3 microprocessor.

  • public land mobile network (PLMN)

    (pu A public land mobile network (PLMN) is any wireless communications system intended for use by terrestrial subscribers in vehicles or on foot.

  • pull notification

    Pull notifications are communications that are sent as a response to a client request. The client sends a request to a server and the server responds with the update.

  • push notification

    Push notification, also called server push notification, is the delivery of information from a software application to a computing device without a specific request from the client.

  • push voice

    Push Voice is a service that enables functionality normally associated with PBX-based phone systems for cellular phones or other mobile handsets... (Continued)

  • Q

    QNX

    QNX is a mobile operating system that was originally developed for embedded systems.

  • Quarter Video Graphics Array (QVGA)

    QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array) is a small-screen display mode in which the resolution is 320 pixels horizontally by 240 pixels vertically (320 x 240). This is 25 percent of the total number of pixels afforded by the VGA (Video Graphics Array) display mode originally introduced by IBM in 1987... (Continued)

  • R

    radar (radio detection and ranging)

    Radar is an acronym for "radio detection and ranging.

  • radio charging

    Radio charging is a wireless charging method used to charge items with small batteries and low power requirements, such as watches, hearing aids and wireless keyboards and mice... (Continued)

  • Radio Data System (RDS)

  • rain fade

    Rain fade is an interruption of wireless communication signals as a result of rain or snow droplets whose separation approximates the signal wavelengths.

  • real-time location system (RTLS)

    A real-time location system (RTLS) is one of a number of technologies used to pinpoint the current geographic position and location of a target.

  • reconfigurable tactile display (RTD)

    A reconfigurable tactile display (RTD) is a control interface that provides physical touch input, but that can be configured by programming.

  • Red Hat Mobile Application Platform

    Red Hat Mobile Application Platform is a software development framework that enables organizations to extend their development capabilities to mobile by developing collaboratively, centralizing control of security and using back-end integration with a range of cloud deployments.

  • remote wakeup (RWU)

    Remote wakeup (RWU) is a general term for the powering-up of (turning on) a computer over a network.

  • remote wipe

    Remote wipe is a security feature that allows a network administrator or device owner to send a command that deletes data to a computing device.

  • remote-control software

    Remote-control software is programming in a central or server computer that is used to control other computers (or their users) at a distance, either under the control of an administrator or at the request of the user. Although remote-control software existed before the World Wide Web (for remote diagnosis of computer problems and other purposes), the Web has essentially built a platform on which anyone can build a new remote-control application that can reach millions of computers and their users. Remote-control software can be viewed as one class of application furnished by application service providers.

  • resonance charging

    Resonance charging is a wireless charging method for items that require large amounts of power, such as an electric car, robot, vacuum cleaner or laptop computer. The method works over small distances (3-5 meters)... (Continued)

  • RMON (Remote Network Monitoring)

    RMON (Remote Network Monitoring) provides standard information that a network administrator can use to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot a group of distributed local area networks (LANs) and interconnecting T-1/E-1 and T-2/E-3 lines from a central site.

  • roaming service

    Roaming service is the ability to get access to the Internet when away from home at the price of a local call or at a charge considerably less than the regular long-distance charges.

  • RPC over HTTP

    RPC over HTTP (Remote Procedure Call over HTTP) is a protocol that allows a client on the Internet to connect securely to a Microsoft Exchange Server without having to log into a virtual private network (VPN) first.

  • S

    Samsung for Enterprise (SAFE)

    Samsung for Enterprise (SAFE) is a line of smartphones and tablets manufactured to meet specific enterprise management and security criteria, including interoperability with third-party mobile device management (MDM) and virtual private network (VPN) software.

  • Samsung Galaxy

    Samsung Galaxy is Samsung Electronics' flagship line of Android smartphones and tablets.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note (Samsung GN)

    Samsung Galaxy Note is a large Android smartphone with a touchscreen and stylus that is manufactured by Samsung Electronics.

  • Samsung KNOX

    Samsung KNOX is a set of enterprise mobility management services that offers mobile device and data protection and management. KNOX is available in three versions based on level of coverage. The two main services in the KNOX suite are Samsung KNOX EMM and KNOX Workspace.

  • Samsung Tizen

    Samsung Tizen is Samsung's implementation of Tizen, an open source mobile operating system.

  • SAP Mobile Documents

    SAP Mobile Documents enables cross-platform mobile access to content that might otherwise be restricted to desktop environments.

  • SAP Mobile Platform (SMP)

    SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) facilitates the development and deployment of business-to-enterprise (B2E) and business-to-customer (B2C) applications through reusable components, drag and drop HTML5 apps and other programming tools.

  • satellite

    In general, a satellite is anything that orbits something else, as, for example, the moon orbits the earth.

  • screaming cell phone

    A screaming cell phone is a cellular telephone that is programmed to emit a noise like human screaming. (Continued)

  • searching

    On the Internet, searching is just trying to find the information you need. (Continued...)

  • service set identifier (SSID)

    A service set identifier (SSID) is a sequence of characters that uniquely names a wireless local area network (WLAN)... (Continued)

  • short message

    A short message is a brief text message sent to or from a mobile phone subscriber through the Short Message Service (SMS).

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