Tablet Tips

Common Android Terminology You Need to Know

Check out this starter guide to Android terminology so you can get familiar with the Android system if you are new to Android or tablets.

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Common Android Terminology You Need to Know

I realized today that when I write many of these posts, I tend to throw around Android terminology like it’s commonplace. But, if you are new to Android, or new to tablets in general, you may not know what I’m talking about. So today I thought it would be fun and handy to look at some of the most common Android terminology that you will need to know and understand if you want to use an Android tablet.

Tablet Buttons

Android Terminology

First, I want to cover the most common buttons you will find on an Android tablet. While this will vary from tablet to tablet, most tablets use a pretty standard design with all the buttons I will mention here.

Power – This button turns your Android tablet on and off. You can use this button to reboot your tablet and even enter some troubleshooting modes if you are having issues with your tablet.

Volume – This one is pretty obvious. The volume buttons will turn the sound of your Android tablet up and down. Combinations with this key will allow you to troubleshoot your tablet and even perform functions such as taking screenshots.

Lock – The lock button will close your tablet and turn the lock screen on. This means you will have to sign back into your tablet the next time you use it. In some cases, this button is not only a lock button but could also be the power button.

Home – The home button is the button you see at the bottom center of your tablet. This button will return you to your Home screen whenever pressed. On some tablets, this button may be a physical button but in other cases it could be a button at the bottom of your display.

Back – The back button does just what it says it does. It will move you back one step in whatever app you are using. If you are at the start screen of an app, the back button will also close the app and return you to the home screen.

Multitasking – The multitasking button will shrink the apps you have open into a scrollable set of windows. From here, you can switch between apps without pressing their icon or you can close down apps you no longer need.

Android Terminology

Android Terminology

Now that we have the basic hardware defined, let’s look at the most common terminology you will need to navigate the Android operating system. By learning these terms, you should be able to easily follow any guide you find on this site and pretty much anywhere online.

Lock Screen – The lock screen is the first screen you will see when you turn on your Android tablet. From here, you will need to sign into your Android tablet by swiping right. In some cases, you may need to enter a passcode or draw a pattern to authenticate to your tablet.

Home Screen – The Home screen is the main screen you will see when using your Android tablet. From here you can access shortcuts to all the apps on your tablet. You can setup multiple Home Screens that you can swipe between to access all your apps.

App – An app is any program that you have downloaded from the Google Play Store. These can be productivity apps such as Microsoft Word or even some of the most popular mobile games that are available today.

App Drawer – The app drawer is a grid of all the apps you have installed on your Android tablet. These apps may or may not have shortcuts on the Home screen. To access it, you may have an icon on your Home screen. In newer versions of Android, swiping down in an empty area of your Home screen will open it.

Dock – The dock is a row of apps at the bottom of your screen. Apps placed in the dock will always appear on your display no matter which Home screen you are on. The dock should be used for the apps you use most often, such as Email, a web browser, etc.

Settings – The settings app can be found in the App Drawer and is used to customize many different settings in Android. From this app you can change wallpaper, security settings, Wi-Fi settings, and much more.

Widgets – Widgets are small graphical apps that you can placed on your Home screen. These can give you information without opening an app. Some of the most common widgets you will see are clocks, weather, and network monitors.

Ok, Google – This is Google’s answer to Siri. This personal assistant can be accessed by saying “Ok, Google”, at which point you can ask it many different questions, send emails, schedule calendar notifications, and more.

Shade – The shade is the notification banner that can be found by swiping down from the top of your display. All of your notifications will be placed here for easy access while you are using your tablet.

Long press – A long press is a simple tap and hold on the screen. This type of press will do different things depending on the app you are using. In Android, it will often open a contextual menu with many different options you can perform on your tablet.

Notifications – Just like on a smartphone, your apps can send you notifications to warn you of important information. This could be when an email comes in or even an update from your favorite game.

Google Account – You will be prompted for a Google account when you setup your Android tablet. This is simply a Gmail account or any other account you have with Google that can be used much like an Apple ID is used on an iPad or iPhone.

Android Pay – This is similar to Apple Pay and is the latest version that began with Google Wallet. This is a contactless payment system that allows you to buy from stores without getting out your wallet.

APK – This is the file extension for all Android apps. If you install apps from other places other than the Play Store, you will be downloading APK files.

Bloatware – This is a term used for apps that come pre-installed on your Android tablet that are of little use to you. In some cases, you can remove them. However, sometimes you are stuck with them.

Launcher – The launcher is a collection of interface systems that include the Home Screen and any type of design styles such as icons. You use the launcher to interact with Android and launch your favorite apps.


This is by no means a be all, end all list of terms you will need to know when using Android. The more you use it, the more you will need to learn. This list is, however, a great list of terms for anyone new to Android or tablets. By learning these different terms, you should be able to make adequate use of the many guides available online that help you navigate and use Android.

Is there a term I’ve left off this list that you think should be included? If so, comment below and tell me which term you would like to see added to this list. I will do my best to add it as soon as possible.