Some tech terms everyone should know
Technology changes very fast, and new terms are coined all the time to describe it. Here is a glossary of common terms that may prove useful to you:
App: An app is short for the word “application.” It’s a program for your smartphone. There are hundreds of thousands of different apps for many purposes — hence the saying “There’s an app for that” — from helping you learn how to exercise, to tracking weight loss, to depositing checks to a bank account by taking photos of them with your phone’s camera. You can “download” apps on your smartphone or computer (see below), usually for free. If you have an iPhone, use the Apple App Store; if an android phone, use Google Play. Once an app is installed, you press its icon, register with your name and password, and bingo, you’re able to call an Uber, read a book on your Kindle, even get updates on your grandchild at daycare. (Caveat emptor: Apps can invade your privacy, so read all the fine print before you download one.)
Browser: A browser, or Web browser, is a way to access websites on the internet. Examples of browsers are: Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.
Cloud: The cloud is a storage facility people can use for all their data instead of storing large digital files (say, larger than 1MB, or one megabyte) on their computer. It is also where most programs today will back-up data from your phone or computer, so you won’t lose that information if your phone or computer die or are stolen.
Download and upload: You can “download” a picture, app or document from the internet, so you can save it to your computer or phone. (An easy way to do this is to click the right-hand side of your mouse, or “right-click.”)
Or you may be asked to “upload” items to a website. In that case, there is usually an arrow on the website to show you how to upload the photo or file.
Dropbox: Sometimes e-mail programs don’t accept large files. Dropbox is a website where you can put photographs or other large digital files to share with friends or colleagues. Similar websites are: OneDrive, Google Drive and CloudMe.
Jpeg: This is the file format used for digital photographs. If someone says, “Send me a jpeg,” email them a photo whose file name ends with jpg.
PDF: Short for Portable Document Format, a PDF is a document (usually multiple pages or even a book) that you can download from a website or email to others in seconds.
Ringtone: In the days of rotary-dial phones, there was only one type of ring: a bell. Now, everyone can choose the sound their cell phone makes when someone calls. From Mozart to a bark to electronic chords, the sky’s the limit in terms of variety. To change your ringtone, go to “settings” on your phone. You can also purchase ringtones online or even use a clip from a favorite song.
Social media: You may have heard of Twitter and Facebook, but your grandchildren may also use Tik Tok, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram. These are all apps or websites people use to share photographs or opinions with friends and family. They are free to use, but keep in mind, these companies may be gathering your personal information.
Tweet: A tweet is a sentence someone posts on the app Twitter. The statement gets broadcasted immediately to other Twitter users, who can read it on their smartphone or on the Twitter website. They can “re-tweet” the message to their own followers, thereby spreading the word. Anyone can have a Twitter account, from celebrities to politicians to the person next door.
Software and hardware: Hardware refers to physical computers or smartphones, while software is the programs and apps that run on them. An example of software is Microsoft Word (for word processing) and Excel (for databases).
Streaming video: Ever wonder what happened to movie rental stores? Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO and other companies offer video on demand instead — without pesky late fees. For a monthly fee of around $15 (each), you can watch any program or film in their library. On Amazon Prime, you can “rent” any movie you want for $3 and take a few weeks to watch it.
Video chat: You can “visit” with friends and family through your computer, tablet or phone using Facebook, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. You will see and hear them speaking, and vice versa. Free, using apps such as Zoom or Skype.