Mobile app developement hub

Mobile app development glossary terms insights and information to create great apps.png

In depth definition and interactive information for app developers, mobile markers and everything in-between to create incredible mobile applications. 



32 bit & 64 bit

A bit refers to storage size and the processing power associated with this. Some apps support both 32 and 64 bit OS, some only support 32.

Apple has recently suggested that it will be killing off 32 bit apps, by revoking support for them on the app store. Leading to developers to assume that little promise remains for 32 bit mobile apps.


Active user

An active user is a mobile app user who accesses a mobile application for specific period of time. During this arbritary period (normally a day, week or month) the total number of active users are used to indicate how many people actually use an app. 

Active mobile app user

Daily active user - someone who uses an app at least once in a single day.

Weekly active user - someone who uses an app at least one in a single week.

Monthly active user - somoene who uses an app at least once in a single 30 day period.

Active users are usually a good signifier of how apps are performing in terms of engagement and retention. Generally a high percentage of active users (when considered against the total user base) indicates high app engagement and high app retention.



A linux-based operating system by Google. Devices using android include Samsung and Google pixel devices. Mobile apps are generally acquired from the Google Play store for this operating system, although many individual device manufactures also have smaller app stores. 


App analytics

App analytics involves using quantitative data to gain insights into various aspects of an app in order to increase key KPIs.

In-app analytics and data

Usually accessed via paid platforms, app developers can gain valuable insights into user acquisition, app store performance, app engagement, app user experience and app monetization

For an in-depth guide head here.

An in-app ad is usually external advertising that featured inside an app to generate revenue for the developer as part of a app monetization strategy. There are numerous app ad networks that provide users with a mobile SDK to integrate advertising.

In-app ads are an accessible method of monetizaiton for nearly any app. However, CPMs do vary significatnly and the user experience of these apps can be affected negatively with in-app ads. 


App ad

ASO (App store optimization)

App store optimisation involves improving the visibility of an app on an app store to improve the number of downloads. Many app store optimisation strategies include tailoring app descriptions to rank higher in searches, or acquiring positive reviews to boost rankings. Paid ASO is becoming more popular on various platforms but generally this term is used to refer to organic optimization. 


API (Application programming interface)

An Application Program Interface provides access to another piece of software so that developers can use it in their mobile apps.

This generally is used to improve the functionality of the mobile app. 


APK (Android application package) 

The completed Android application file - ready to push to the Android app store. 



App content

App content is the collective term for any kind of image, video, text or audio that is present inside a mobile application. Content creators are attempting to create content that is mobile first - it is tailored to work best on mobile apps and mobile screens. 


App engagement

App engagement refers to the strategy of increasing the amount of time and number of interactions that a user has with an app. There are multiple components that make up an app engagement strategy including push notifications, user experience optimization and ease of app use. 

Mobile app engagement is measured across a number of metrics. These tend to include retention, usage figures, session length and a number of sessions. 

More in-depth app engagement strategies consider the frequency of specific in-app features and events.

Improving app engagement is a crucial part of creating an app business

Improving app engagement is a fundamental part of creating a successful mobile app business. Improvements in engagement can lead to increased revenue and create more loyal app users. 

To read more on app engagement see this guide.


App retention

App retention is the process of ensuring that users who have downloaded a mobile application remain engaged and continue to open the app. 

Retention rates are similar to app engagement but are more concerned with how many users are still using a mobile app after a certain period of time. 

Retention is important for developers as a higher retention rate often means more engagement and better app monetization

Retention rates are also helpful for developers that are trying to understand why and when many users become disengaged with their mobile app. These figures help them to hypothesize and improve how their app is used. 

For a complete guide to app retention strategies click here


App monetization

App monetization is the practice of using a mobile app to generate revenue from the number of users that use the app. App monetization is one of the most important aspects of running a mobile business. 

Mobile app monetization and generating app revenue from audiences

App monetization strategies differ in their effectiveness based on multiple factors. These include how engages an audience is, the type of audience an app has, the type of monetization that occurs and the relative CPM that monetization generates. 

Common app monetization strategies include: in-app advertising, native ads, freemium and subscriptions models, in-app purchases. 

Other methods of monetization are becoming more popular amongst developers - such as data monetization.

Monetization is rarely seen outside of the context of an app's user base - this means that app engagement and app retention strategies (as well as app user experience and functionality) are increasingly important to the effectiveness of app monetization. 

For a complete guide to the different app monetization strategies then see here


App marketing

App marketing is a kind of umbrella term that encompasses everything that aims to promote and grow a mobile app. There are many different types of app marketing and the term can be used to refer to specific branches of app marketing or the entire process of app growth. 

Some common strategies that are widely viewed as a part of an app marketing programme include ASO, organic and paid user acquisition and download campaigns.

Some believe that app marketing also includes user research, app insights, and analytics as well as user experience and usability of the app in question.


App update

This occurs when a developers change an app to include new features or change the look or design of the app. These updates usually take a while to reach a high majority of an app's mobile user base as not all users will have automatic updates turned on. 


App usage

A mobile app metric that forms an important part of a mobile app engagement and retention strategy. App usage can be measured in both time, users, and screens.


Apple pay and Android pay

Contactless mobile payment service that allows users to use their mobile device to complete payments instead of using a plastic card. 


Aspect ratio

The relationship between the hight and width of an image or screen. This ratio is usually different depending on the device type. It's important that developers consider the different aspects when developing cross-platform apps



A bug is a coding error in a particular program or application.


Churn Rate

In terms of mobile apps, churn rate is the number of users that delete your app over a specific time period. In relation to app subscription models, churn rate can also refer to the number of subscribers that return to being a free user. 


Cocoa pods

Cocoa pods is a dependency manager for Objective-C projects. 



A cross-platform app is an app that is designed to work across multiple mobile operating systems. It involves designing a backend that works across multiple platforms.


CTR (Click-through rate)

The number of time that a piece of inventory has been interacted with. In the case of mobile apps, this usually refers to push notifications or in-app ads. The click-through rate is calculated by taking the total number of impressions and dividing this by the number of clicks (or interactions) - the CTR is usually a percentage. CTR is generally a good measure of app engagement or app monetization depending on the context.

app click through rate is a great sign of app engagement


A term which is used to give the value attributed to 1,000 of a certain action. In mobile app monetization, this action is usually used to give the value for every 1,000 impressions of mobile ads. but it can also refer to the monetization price of 1,000 users. 


Data monetization

A form of mobile app monetization which generates revenue from a user base by retrieving and securely storing user data. This data is then reused for marketing or other external purposes to create more personal experiences in the future. 

Data monetization is an opportunity for developers to monetize without negatively affecting the user experience. Data monetization generally generates a much higher CPM than other app monetization strategies. 



Usually refers to the make and model which an app is being used on. 


Deep linking

The practice of allowing push notifications and links to link through to a specific in-app screen or content, rather than the home screen. This is widely regarded to improve the user experience and boost app engagement and retention.



An app event is a series of user actions that the developer determines to be relevant. This could be as small as the single click of a button, or in some cases, the completion of a complex series of app functions. 

There are multiple app analytic platforms which can help measure in-app events and provide insights on how users interact with the intended app events. 



A method of app monetization which operates by providing limited features of an app for free to everyone. Users are then given the option to upgrade and pay a fee to access other features. 

This type of monetization method is effective as it gives users the chance to see some of the benefits of a mobile app before they choose to purchase. It provides developers with a good opportunity to educate and entice users to upgrade. 

Access is usually on either on a time limit or a feature limit but it's not uncommon for apps to use a combination of both. 



The front end experience of an app usually refers to what happens within the app interface (as opposed to the backend which is the server operating in the background). 

The front end is what the user directly interacts with, what they see on the screen, and where they enter commands. 


Full stack developer

A full stack developer is a developer that works across all areas of application development, from high-level frameworks to the servers and back-end which hosts the application. 

Gated features

Features that are restricted to users that are not full level subscribers of an app as part of a freemium model. 


Feature of an app that uses GPS to define geographical boundaries. An action is then performed when a device interacts with this geofence, usually the sending of a push notification.

This allows developers to engage with their users based on where they are in the real world. 

Google cloud

A service from Google which allows developers to build scalable backends without having to worry about storing and hosting themselves.


Identifier for advertisers on phones (IDFA) is similar to a cookie on browsers. It enables an advertiser to understand that a user of a device has performed a certain action. It means that users can be delivered content that is relevant to their previous activity within an app or on their device. 


An app install is an act of downloading and installing an app from an app store to a device. 


A form of mobile app advertising that occurs between app events or at a transition point in an app flow. They are usually full-screen app ads which require the user to either click on the app or close the app and return to the app. 

Careful consideration must be taken when using interstitial ads as they can hamper the mobile app user experience if presented to the user too often. If implemented badly they can lead to rapid app disengagement and uninstalls.


The number of times that an app ad is fetched from its source and is countable in the app interface. app ad impressions don't necessarily mean that an app has been viewed by the user. 



The mobile operating system by Apple. The OS is only used on Apple hardware. Apps for iOS exist only on the Apple app store. 

In-app purchase

An in-app purchase is a purchase that occurs when a user is using a mobile app. This is a form of monetization model that places more emphasis on the direct purchase of a product or service. 


In-app subscription

In-app subscription is something that a user purchases to receive the full version of an app. This is part of the freemium model of app monetization



The completed file that is ready to be pushed to the Apple app store. 



App key performance indicators are metrics that app developers deem to be important to demonstrate the success of their app. These are usually based on monetization, engagement, retention but may also include more subjective concepts like enjoyment. 

App analytics and kips for app engagement and push . notification success

Some common metrics that app developers might use on a regular basis are:

  • Installs
  • DAU
  • MAU
  • Time in app
  • Number of sessions
  • Number of screens per session
  • Revenue
  • CPM


Location services

 Service which use location data to offer an experience or service to the end user. 


Lock screen

A lock screen is the screen that is accessible to a user when their phone wakes up. This is usually the first screen the users sees when looking at their phone. 

To navigate past this screen the app user will normally have to enter a passcode, use their fingerprint or let facial recognition activate the device. 


Lifetime value

The measure of a user's value of a defined period of time. It is one of the most important app metrics as it helps to understand many different aspects of mobile app performance such as engagement, revenue, and loyalty. 

It's most helpful for understanding your app marketing budget. It helps you to understand how much each new user is worth and that leads you to inform your app marketing budget. 

It's important for developers to understand that LTV is a predictive metric - this means that changes in retention or an increase in churn rate can mean skew the LTV and thereby affect marketing budgets. 


Mobile analytics

The process of using data generated from app usage to gain insights and optimize an application. 


Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is the act of promoting an activity, communicating to users or displaying content through a mobile device.

mobile marketing and app marketing solutions

Mobile marketing is becoming increasingly important in the modern world due to the rise in mobile use compared to desktop. This has made avoiding mobile marketing nearly impossible for all - from the largest brands to the smallest retailers. 

There are multiple different kinds of mobile marketing which include:

  • Location-based marketing - uses the build in location capability in mobile devices to provide marketing that is highly relevant to the user. 
  • App-based marketing - This involves a multitude of different mobile marketing - from in-app ads to push notifications and everything in between. 
  • Social media - Social media advertising has mobile to thank a lot for its growth in the ad market. This is also an organic form of mobile marketing where brands promote themselves without paying for social ads.


Mobile search

Search engines offer users different kind of ads when a user is on a mobile device. This provides a heightened user experience.


Monetization strategy

A mobile monetization strategy is part of turning an app into a viable business. Monetizing mobile users requires an engaged user base and there many different methods. Some popular methods include:

  • App data monetization - where user data is securely stored and passed to relevant partners.
  • In ap adverts - where the user is shown adverts whilst in the app. The developer receives income based on how many times the ad is viewed or clicked.
  • Income-based - in-app purchases, subscriptions and physical products. 
  • Native ads - A form of a mobile advert which is part of the app user interface. As it has been developed for the specific platform and application it generally provides a heightened user experience.


Notification center

When a push notification is sent to an iOS mobile device it first appears on the lock screen. Once the phone is unlocked the notification will only be accessible through the notification center.

This is a quickly accessed screen which displays notifications from all applications in the order that they were received. They will remain there until the user either clear them or interacts with them.



Near field communication is a wireless technology which allows two devices to communicate up to a distance of around 4cm. NFC is used mostly to power mobile payments, but is also used as a mobile marketing technique to allow users to interact with physical locations. 



Operating system is the program that is initially loaded and manages all other programs on the device. 

The two most widely used mobile OS are iOS and Android. 



Opt-in in a term which refers to the user providing concent for a specific function. These functions are usually push notifications, contact access, photo access or location services


Organic install

An organic install is an install that is attributed to a non paid source. These are installs which have occurred from a promotion that has not had any budget allocated to it. 


Paid app

A paid app is an app that requires a purchase to download. This is different from a subscription which is required at a later time - a paid app must be paid for at the moment of download. 


Push notifications

A push notification is a message that is sent directly to a mobile user. The message is always received by the device. If the phone is locked then the device will usually display the notification on the lock screen. Different OS then deal with the push notification differently. 

A push notification is an effective way for app developers to communicate with users and boost mobile app engagement. They provide the user with value by delivering relevant information to the user. 

Permission or user opt-in is required to send push notifications to users. Without this, they will not receive them. 

Push notifications are the mobile developer's best tool to improve app retention and app engagement. Apps that adopt a push notification strategy have, on average, double the retention rate than apps that don't.

Push notifications can be triggered by certain factors. This is a common strategy to ensure that notifications are not annoying and provide relevant value to the user. These include the user's demographic (age, gender, device type), the user's activity in the app, or the location of the user. 

For an extensive guide to mobile push notifications then see here.


Retargeting is the strategy of targeting users based on previous activity or behavior.

This can be a site that a user has visited, a certain screen or activity in an app or physical location.

The main benefit for developers is that it can be economically efficient to retarget users rather than acquire new users. 


Revenue model

An app revenue model is generally used to refer to a single method of app monetization.



A mobile app session is counted every time an app is launched. A session can be useful for an app developer when considering in relation to time or number of screens. These metrics are usually a good sign of the levels of app engagement.


SDK (Software development kit)

A software development kit is a toolkit for mobile application and developers which helps perform specific tasks. 

sdk for developers to help improve app engagement and send push notifications and monetize effectively

An SDK allows greater functionality for mobile developers. Without an SDK the functionality would have to be developed from scratch. 

SDKs can be used to provide a wide range of functions including:

A Lightweight SDK is an SDK that is small in size and quick and simple to integrate.


UI (User interface)

User interface is often confused with user experience. User interface is used to refer to the part of an app that the user interacts and engages with. It determines how user commands are received and how information is displayed to the user. 


UX (User experience)

User experience is similar to user interface. Where interface is used to refer to the specific app interaction. The aim of good user experience is to meet the exact needs of the user and provide these in a simple and intuitive way.  


User acquisition

App user acquisition is the process of gaining new mobile app users. This is generally seen as a part of a mobile marketing strategy. 

User acquisition can be separated into two categories - organic and nonorganic.

User acquisition refers to the methodologies and practices of driving new installs.