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Jargon-busting mobile industry's buzzwords

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mobile phone industry has created a confusing lexicon of acronyms and buzzwords
  • CNN's jargon buster unlocks some the language used at Mobile World Congress
  • Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, Padphones, Symbian among words explored

(CNN) -- Mobile devices may have placed an amazing array of technology in the palms of our hands, but they've also given us a bamboozling array of buzzwords and acronyms.

To help avoid confusion as the cell phone industry meets for its annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CNN has compiled a handy jargon buster.

Android: An operating system created for mobile devices by a consortium of tech firms led by Google. Different versions of Android are typically named after sugary treats, namely Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich.

AMOLED: Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode. This is the technology behind ultra-thin display screens used on many smartphones. These use on-off switching to consume less power than previous "passive matrix OLED" displays.

Cloud computing: The offloading of data storage or processing to the internet or a shared network. Cloud technology allows phones to outsource their functions, provided there's a good Wi-Fi connection.

4G: Fourth generation. A loose term covering the wireless network technology that will power the next generation of mobile phones. Already deployed in parts of Europe it promises data speeds of 300Mbps -- 20 times faster than existing 3G networks.

Haptics: Tactile feedback, in the form of tiny vibrations, that helps users interact with their touch screens.

Ice Cream Sandwich: Not as tasty as it sounds. This is the latest version of Android operating system.

iOS: A mobile operating system created by Apple to run devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Mbps: Megabits per second. The rate at which data flows to-and-from devices. The bigger the number, the faster the flow.

MVAS: Mobile value-added service (see VAS).

NFC: Near field communication: Technology that allows smartphones to communicate with other nearby devices. It allows simple data transfer between mobiles. It can also be used in contactless payment systems, allowing mobiles to behave like debit cards.

OLED: Display screen technology (see AMOLED).

Padphones: Is it a pad? Is it a phone? It's both! These tablet devices feature a phone docking station, allowing a phone's functions to be upgraded into a tablet environment.

Quad core: Refers to the phone's capacity for crunching data. The higher the number of processing cores, the faster the phone. The quadcores unveiled in Barcelona should, in theory, be the fastest to date, capable of simultaneously running several complex apps. This will, however, depend on whether they work well with phone operating systems.

SMS: Short message service -- or text messaging. The original and, some say, the best mobile phone app. This cheap, widely-available, stripped-down communication system refuses to die despite technology advances.

Stylus: Once thought extinct, the stylus seems to be making a comeback this year. This detachable pointer allows users to prod and write on their touch screens with greater accuracy -- until it gets left in the back of a taxi.

Symbian: Mobile phone operating system maintained by technology firm Accenture. Symbian was favored almost exclusively by Nokia, but Nokia is now switching to a mobile version of Microsoft's Windows 7.

3G: Third generation. The technology currently being used by many mobile systems. These support data transfer rates that allow users to surf the internet and watch videos.

VAS: Value-added service. Usually refers to any device function beyond its core purpose. Once upon a time, this meant any functionality above phone calls and text messages, but user-expectations are somewhat higher these days.

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