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Android Glossary

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.apk extension
The extension for an Android package file, which typically contains all of the files related to a single Android application. The file itself is a compressed collection of an AndroidManifest.xml file, application code (.dex files), resource files, and other files. A project is compiled into a single .apk file.
.dex extension
Android programs are compiled into .dex (Dalvik Executable) files, which are in turn zipped into a single .apk file on the device. .dex files can be created by automatically translating compiled applications written in the Java programming language.
Action
A description of something that an Intent sender wants done. An action is a string value assigned to an Intent. Action strings can be defined by Android or by a third-party developer. For example, android.intent.action.VIEW for a Web URL, or com.example.rumbler.SHAKE_PHONE for a custom application to vibrate the phone.
Activity
A single screen in an application, with supporting Java code, derived from the Activity class.
adb
Android Debug Bridge, a command-line debugging application shipped with the SDK. It provides tools to browse the device, copy tools on the device, and forward ports for debugging. See Using adb for more information.
Application
A collection of one or more activities, services, listeners, and intent receivers. An application has a single manifest, and is compiled into a single .apk file on the device.
Content Provider
A class built on ContentProvider that handles content query strings of a specific format to return data in a specific format. See Reading and writing data to a content provider for information on using content providers.
Content URI
A type of URI. See the URI entry.
Dalvik
The name of Android's virtual machine. The Dalvik VM is an interpreter-only virtual machine that executes files in the Dalvik Executable (.dex) format, a format that is optimized for efficient storage and memory-mappable execution. The virtual machine is register-based, and it can run classes compiled by a Java language compiler that have been transformed into its native format using the included "dx" tool. The VM runs on top of Posix-compliant operating systems, which it relies on for underlying functionality (such as threading and low level memory management). The Dalvik core class library is intended to provide a familiar development base for those used to programming with Java Standard Edition, but it is geared specifically to the needs of a small mobile device.
DDMS
Dalvik Debug Monitor Service, a GUI debugging application shipped with the SDK. It provides screen capture, log dump, and process examination capabilities. See Using the Dalvik Debug Monitor Server to learn more about this program.
Drawable
A compiled visual resource that can be used as a background, title, or other part of the screen. It is compiled into an android.graphics.drawable subclass.
Intent
A class (Intent) that contains several fields describing what a caller would like to do. The caller sends this intent to Android's intent resolver, which looks through the intent filters of all applications to find the activity most suited to handle this intent. Intent fields include the desired action, a category, a data string, the MIME type of the data, a handling class, and other restrictions.
Intent Filter
Activities and intent receivers include one or more filters in their manifest to describe what kinds of intents or messages they can handle or want to receive. An intent filter lists a set of requirements, such as data type, action requested, and URI format, that the Intent or message must fulfill. For Activities, Android searches for the Activity with the most closely matching valid match between the Intent and the activity filter. For messages, Android will forward a message to all receivers with matching intent filters.

Intent Receiver
An application class that listens for messages broadcast by calling Context.broadcastIntent(). For example code, see Listening for and broadcasting global messages.
Layout resource
An XML file that describes the layout of an Activity screen.
Manifest
An XML file associated with each Application that describes the various activies, intent filters, services, and other items that it exposes. See AndroidManifest.xml File Details.
Nine-patch / 9-patch / Ninepatch image
A resizeable bitmap resource that can be used for backgrounds or other images on the device. See Nine-Patch Stretchable Image for more information.
Query String
A type of URI. See the URI entry.
Resource
A user-supplied XML, bitmap, or other file, entered into an application build process, which can later be loaded from code. Android can accept resources of many types; see Resources for a full description. Application-defined resources should be stored in the res/ subfolders.
Service
A class that runs in the background to perform various persistent actions, such as playing music or monitoring network activity.
Theme
A set of properties (text size, background color, and so on) bundled together to define various default display settings. Android provides a few standard themes, listed in R.style (starting with "Theme_").
URIs
Android uses URI strings both for requesting data (e.g., a list of contacts) and for requesting actions (e.g., opening a Web page in a browser). Both are valid URI strings, but have different values. All requests for data must start with the string "content://". Action strings are valid URIs that can be handled appropriately by applications on the device; for example, a URI starting with "http://" will be handled by the browser.

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