DigiSpeak: Smartphone Smarts

DigiSpeak: SmartphonesBecause we all want to speak intelligently, please partake in a lesson of DigiSpeak, a quick digital overview to explain some of the most frequently used industry jargon.  This DigiSpeak post is dedicated to the smartphone.  See how many times you can use each of these words in a sentence today, especially in front of the boss.


iphoneIn 1993, the first smartphone was introduced  and since then our love affair with this device has increased significantly. A smartphone can be defined as a mobile device that runs a mobile operating system (OS) and offers advanced multitasking & computing capabilities.  Smartphones usually offer other functions/applications that allow the device to act as a media player, camera, GPS navigation, internet, etc.

Dumb Phone

The obvious opposite of the smartphone is the dumb phone.  This is actually an uncouth reference.  If you want to hang with the “cool kids” in the mobile world, you will instead say “feature phone.”  No one likes it when you refer to something they own as “dumb” even if it is their archaic mobile device.

Feature Phone

Feature PhoneFeature phone is the proper way of referring to a phone that is not a Smartphone.  Usually these devices are used for completing singular, simple tasks such as phone calls or texting.  The main differentiating factor of a feature phone is that it does not have an internal operating system (OS) as found in smartphones.

Mobile OS

Mobile OSOS is short for operating system.  Mobile operating systems are what smartphones are built on and what makes them function.  Currently, the most popular OS’s are Android and iOS.   iPhones, iPads, and iPods run on an iOS.  Android is Google’s platform and its versions are named after various desserts such as Froyo, now Honeycomb, and soon to be Ice Cream Sandwich.  Other OS’s include RIM’s Blackberry OS, Windows, Symbian, Linux, and the old-school, Palm OS.

SMS Message

SMS MessagingShort Message Service (SMS) is a standardized method of sending messages through mobile devices.  It is also what most of us call “text messaging.”  Text messaging can be completed on pretty much all mobile devices (feature and smartphones) and is great for marketing campaigns because it allows for the reach of most audiences regardless of their particular mobile device.

MMS Message

Multimedia MessageMultimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is similar to SMS messaging but goes further than the short, text message to instead send a picture, a video clip, or an audio clip.  As mobile bandwidth has increased so has the usage of MMS.  Unlike SMS, MMS is not necessarily a universal option available to users on all mobile devices.

Short Codes


Short Code

ETSMS = "Vanity" Short Code

Short codes are like telephone numbers, but shorter, easier to remember, and used mostly for commercial promotions.  There are two types of short codes: Common and Vanity. Common Short Codes (CSC) are numbers that you submit a message to in relation to a campaign (i.e. – “text COUPON to 55555 for extra savings at Widget World”). The 55555 is the CSC. A Vanity short code serves the same purpose as a CSC, but is usually branded (for additional fees) to spell out something familiar with the numbers.  Fees associated to receive SMS updates from short codes vary from provider to provider. Therefore, most marketers executing short code campaigns usually limit their communications to a few per month.



Auto Correct


Autocorrect can sometimes be considered a time saver or spellcheck for your phone.  It’s function is to replace text as you are typing with the “correct” word.  However, any veteran texter knows that the replaced word is not always the correct one (as demonstrated on DamnYouAutocorrect.com).  Autocorrect is a part of most phones and texting is one of the primary functions used by smartphone owners.  It is usually just a concern of the user, but I recently read an article that stated mobile marketers should pay more attention to autocorrect and how it can effect a mobile campaign.

2D & QR Codes

2-D CodeI see 2D and QR codes used interchangeably alot, and they are related, but they aren’t synonymous.  Two Dimensional (2D or matrix bar) codes are the next generation of codes after 1D, scannable, bar codes.  But instead of displaying only one line of data from varying degrees of straight lines, the matrix of squares and rectangles allow for multiple amounts of data in each code.   A QR (quick response) code is a form of a 2D code that can be scanned and deciphered by a smartphone, usually redirecting the scanner to a separate website, landing page, or video on the internet. To see a 2D code in action,  check out Ballantine Whisky’s “First Ever Animated Tattoo.”

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Near Field CommunicationNFC is a communication software built inside a specialized chip.  Smartphones with these NFC chips can transmit data in relation to commerce payments or even keyless entry.  The data exchange is instant and can be done by simply swiping your phone across a NFC device.  Google (Google Wallet) is working to take advantage of this technology and includes the chip in some of their Android phones.  Apple has not included it in the iPhone, but it is rumored that it may be present in their iPhone 5.

Mobile web app


Amazon Mobile Website

Amazon Mobile Website

A mobile web application helps a website display in a mobile friendly fashion when a user accesses it from their smartphone or mobile device.  A mobile friendly website is usually optimized for all mobile devices despite what OS they are running (Android, iOS, Windows, etc.).  Mobile websites often limit the amount of content delivered to the mobile phone user and have fewer images, iframes, and “moving parts.”  Mobile web apps maker for a better mobile experience and are usually easy to set up and cost effective to build.

Amazon Home Page

Amazon Home Page - Notice Differences Between Home, Mobile, and Native App Layouts


Native app


Native Amazon App

Amazon iPhone App

A native app is a mobile application that lives within a smartphone.  A native app is built on one type of mobile OS and can only be accessed by smartphones that run that particular OS.  Native apps usually require a expert programmer or OS developer to create them.  Native apps tend to be more costly, but run faster and are perfectly tailored to the mobile device they run on.  Additionally, native apps usually take advantage of existing technology within the phone such as the camera, GPS, media player, etc.

What other mobile or smartphone terms would you add to this list?  Share them in the comments section below.

2 thoughts on “DigiSpeak: Smartphone Smarts

  1. Good point Beth! Mobile apps that are examples of Location Based Services typically use the GPS within a smartphone to find related places/services within close proximity of the phone. People can use LBS apps like Yelp or UrbanSpoon to search restaurants in their vicinity and read reviews and comments about them.

    Speaking of LBS, I have been seeing more and more a new buzz word for mobile based services like Foursquare, ShopKick, etc. – Gamification.

    Gamification aims to take a mobile application and make it more fun and interactive to its users. Foursquare makes their app fun by offering badges, mayorships, and the ability to compete with friends. Shopkick offers deals and rewards to scan products or even enter a store. These types of apps make using them fun (like a game) and aim to bring the consumer back regularly to play and engage with the app.

    Thanks for the comment Beth!

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