categories: mobile
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January 6th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

16 comments (+ Add)

Mobile: A Quick Education

Mobile-2Since I plan to spend several posts discussing mobile, I figured it would be good for us to start with a quick 101 to cover some the basic terms and concepts surrounding mobile.  Warning to you tech-savvy readers: this post will probably be very basic.  I want to be sure to have as many non-technical people as possible stay engaged in this series of posts…hopefully this post will be helpful.

First, I am using the term “mobile” to refer to mobile phones, AKA a “cell phone” in the US, Canada, South Africa; “handy” in Austria, Germany; “mobile” in the UK and many English speaking countries; and a whole lot of other terms around the world.

Here are some capabilities of mobile phones and the associated terms:

  • Send/Receive text messages: SMS or “Short Message Service” allows you to send short (160 character or less) text messages to and from mobile phones. SMS is often referred to as “texting” and is actively used by 2.4 billion people around the world. (see wikipedia)
  • Send/Receive emails: Separate from text messages, many phones have the ability to send and receive emails.  This is particularly popular with corporate users, but is still growing quickly with consumers worldwide.
  • Browse mobile websites: Most mobile phones today have a simple web browser that provides access to pared down versions of many websites. The iPhone, the G1 and several other phones have a full web browser that displays websites in a very similar form to what you would see on a desktop computer  (accessing websites via a mobile usually involves extra costs and/or a data service plan).
  • Install/Use applications: Several smart phones (iPhone, BBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Android, Nokia/Symbian) include the ability to install and run programs (applications) on your phone, similar to applications you’d use on your computer.  Examples include: games, instant messaging, GPS/navigation, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and even the Bible :)
  • Capture/View Photos/Video: Many newer phones include a camera that can take surprisingly good pictures, and on a few phones, record and send video.  Even more phones have the ability to view photos and watch video (though the capabilities of what type/format of video that can be played varies greatly by phone).
  • Voice Calls: The most common, but often overlooked use of a mobile phone: to make a phone call :)
  • GPS/Location Aware: Many newer phones have the ability to access the GPS (Global Positioning System) and tell you where you are on Earth within a few meters.  This service has initially been used primarily for navigation/map applications that can give you driving directions.  The fact that many mobile phones are location-aware enables all sorts of applications that could help people find nearby services, people or other location-specific information.  This may not be a good thing for some, since this recent survey says 8 out of 10 people use their phones in the bathroom.

This list is by no means complete or comprehensive, but it should form a foundation for our conversation.

What are some other uses, terminology or “mobile phone” nicknames that you are familiar with?

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  1. Jan 6, 2009 at 11:11 am

    [...] Mobile: A Quick Education A quick look at mobile technology jargon provided by Bobby Gruenewald of Posted by Chuck Warnock Filed in articles, resources Tags: mobile jargon [...]

  2. Jan 6, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Perhaps in my context, I take it for granted…but would a blog reader not know these things about mobile phones? Anyone out there reading this weblog not know about cell phone basic functionality?

    As a side note, in case you don’t, you may want to know that in addition to basic voice calling, there is what is called voicemail available on many cell phones. Think of it like an answering machine that you take with you. In case someone calls your mobile phone and you’re unreachable, they may be able to leave a short message (time duration depends on carrier) with you, that you can retrieve later. Newer phones allow “visual” voicemail, which allows you to retrieve the messages much like email: in a clean, easy to read format so you know who called, and how long the message is.

  3. Jan 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Derek, you’re hilarious! That’s just what I needed to read today :)

  4. Jan 6, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I am glad you mentioned the global terms for a mobile device. This lets me know that you are aware that different levels of infrastructure are available. I am located in a rural area between Chicago and Milwaukee. The National Carriers provide PITIFUL service to our area so most of our congregation use the dominant regional carrier (US Cellular)as of this date they do not subscribe to the service that allows a user to text a word to a 5-digit number (such as used by Twitter to subscribe). Just as many of our congregation literally cannot get broadband internet in their home (other than satellite which has horrendous upload speeds), many of the mobile services you may plan on recommending are impractical even in the heart of the USA.

  5. Jan 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    My favorite term left off the list is Dropped Call. It could mean one of two things. 1. The signal your phone uses to send and recieve information is lost during the call thereby ending aburptly your conversation. 2. The person you were talking to was in the bathroom while talking to you and literally dropped their phone in a ceramic basin full of cold (hopefully) water. (Which I know somene firsthand who has confessed to this.)

  6. Jan 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Okay - so I’m the old woman today! I do have a cell phone - not a smart phone, just a simple cell phone. And just recently I learned how to send text messages. My boys (all over the age of 15) have a goal of getting their mom to join the twitter crowd in 2009! LOL!

  7. 7Mark
    Jan 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm


    I suggest that you expand your “cell phone” definition to include smartphones (Treos, Blackberries, iPhones, etc.). As a long-time PDA/cell phone/gadget user and early adopter of a smartphone, I see so many people today using smartphone type devices, in which they also keep their calendar, personal notes and memos, files from their PC/Macs, and so much more.

    My two cents…

  8. Jan 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm


  9. Jan 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I’m really excited about this series of posts coming from you. I know you have a niche for staying up to date with the latest technology and am pumped to learn more things to toy with that will help me become more effective a what I do.

  10. Jan 7, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Having been in the mobile industry, here are a few other terms that might help people understand other acronyms being thrown around:

    Mobile networks in the US operate largely on two network technologies (how the phones talk to the network): GSM and CDMA. GSM is used by ATT and TMobile and is a global standard adopted throughout most of Europe, South America and Asia. CDMA is used by Verizon and Sprint and is used in a few places elsewhere in the world, mainly the Asian rim. These two different communication protocols affect the services offered by each carrier and explain why there are service differences (SMS wise, data speeds, etc) between carriers such as ATT and Verizon.

    The G’s: Carriers tout 2.5G, 3G and 4G. These terms refer to a “generation” of network functionality. Primarily, data is the driving factor behind the different “G” designations. 2.5G is early data transmission at lower speeds. 3G is the current generation of higher speed data networks which enable video calling, higher speed cellular based laptop cards and a more graphically intense mobile web. 4G is the pending network evolution which will bring even greater data throughput (think cable modem/DSL speeds) to mobile devices, as well as other functions.

  11. Jan 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    [...] Technology: I’ve been asked to teach a Youth Ministry seminar in February. One of the sessions will be on “Using Technology in Ministry” I am looking forward to Bobby’s posts on Swerve on using mobile devices for ministry. Check out his quick Mobile Primer. [...]

  12. Jan 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

    [...] Swerve - Bobby Gruenewald ( - Mobile Ministry — Since I plan to spend several posts discussing mobile, I figured it would be good for us to start with a quick 101 to cover some the basic terms and concepts surrounding mobile. Warning to you tech-savvy readers: this post will probably be very basic. (more to follow) [...]

  13. Jan 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    When do we get the rest of the mobile series?

  14. Jan 15, 2009 at 1:07 am

    [...] A Quick Education about Mobile Technology from [...]

  15. Mar 10, 2009 at 2:02 am

    [...] is passionate about this and wants to give you a quick mobile education, reasons why the church must go mobile, and a headstart in making your church website [...]