. . . Skip to main content

Mobile Resources: Basics

Selected apps and websites for iPad, iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices.


The words used to describe portable devices are confusing and continue to evolve.

App: An software application on a smartphone.

Mobile-friendly website: A website that is specially formatted to be readable and useable on the smaller screen of a mobile device.

Handheld devices, Mobile Devices, and handheld computers are synonyms and include both SmartPhones and PDAs.

SmartPhone: Combines computing functions with phone functions. SmartPhones connect to the Internet via phone networks or wireless networks.  Examples are iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry phones. Most SmartPhones have a proprietary method for getting apps onto the phone (such as the Apple iTunes Store, Android Marketplace, or Blackberry AppWorld).

Examples: Apple iPhone, Blackberry devices. Many other manufacturers build and market SmartPhones.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): A handheld computer. Does not have a phone function and typically and may or may not connect wirelessly to the Internet. PDAs are usually "synchronized" with a desktop or laptop computer when adding software or updating messages or the operating system.

Examples: Palm, a bastion of the PDA world, no longer makes a true PDA. Hewlett-Packard (HP) makes two PDAs that have the ability to use WiFi or BlueTooth to connect to the Internet via a wireless network or a cell phone, respectively.

When considering purchase, factor in the cost of the hardware, the service costs, and the cost of software. For a SmartPhone, the costs may easily reach $2,000 to $3,000 for 2 years.

Use Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science (ODLIS) to define technology terms.

Operating Systems

There are 6 major operating systems used in Mobile Devices:

  • Apple iPhone/iPod Touch software. Do we need to say more? If so read...
  • RIM (Research In Motion): Blackberry
  • Palm OS (a press release that does a pretty good job of explaining what makes Palm's approach unique)
  • Windows Mobile
  • Android (developed for Google products)
  • Symbian OS (an open-source mobile device operating system) is open source software for mobile devices. A number of major mobile device manufacturers sell devices loaded with this OS. Read Symbian FAQs and look at Devices