Android Glossary of Terms: What is a Launcher, Dock, Quick Settings, Notification Badges, and Other Parts of Android

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

Table of Contents

With every new version of Android comes new features and changes, and over time it’s hard to keep track of what is what. With that in mind, we have compiled a Android glossary of terms, so you can consult when you have doubts if something is what you think it is on Android.

The oldest of the place probably already know all these words, but if you have just joined Android or never found out what a specific part of the interface is called, we hope this list is useful for you. We will focus on visible parts of Android and not so much in other more technical terms as kernel, baseband or root, which we have already explained on other occasions.



The launcher or launcher is the most important mobile application, as it is the one that used to open other applications. It is the application that you see after locking the mobile and the one in charge of showing you the icons on the home screen, the application drawer, the wallpapers and widgets.

Each mobile manufacturer has its own application launcher, and also you can download others from Google Play. There are many interesting options, as Nova Launcher or Lawnchair Launcher, to name a few.



The widgets they are something like small “chunks” of applications that you can place on the mobile home screen to view information or interact with applications from the home screen, without having to open the application. For example, you can see a small box with the time, time or the latest WhatsApp messages.

Widgets are part of the application they belong to, so to have more widgets you need to install applications that include them. For add new widgets to your home screenNormally, you have to do a long touch on the home screen and choose Widgets.

Lock screen

Screen lock

The lock screen is the first thing that appears on the mobile, and serves as a protection to prevent anyone from picking up your mobile and using the applications and / or reading the messages. The lock screen prevent you from using your mobile unless you identify yourself.

This identification can be a fingerprint, PIN, password, or face recognition or sometimes the mobile is unlocked and you simply need to slide the screen to start using the mobile. Each manufacturer has a different lock screen, although the normal thing is that a wallpaper is included, the time and little else.

Shutdown menu


The shutdown menu is the one that allows you to turn off and restart the mobile. To access it, you must make a long press of the physical button power on the mobile. The different layers of customization have different shutdown menus, although today you normally have three options: restart, shutdown or block.

Navigation bar

Navigation bar

The navigation bar are the buttons displayed overlaid on the screen so you can open the recent view, go back home, or go back. In old mobiles, these buttons were physical or capacitive, although later they became virtual and placed on the screen, in the navigation bar.

Recently, more and more mobiles have started to replace the navigation bar with gesture navigation. In this case, the navigation bar does not show buttons, but a call sign to help you carry out the gestures.

Button up


After talking about the navigation bar, we cannot forget one of the biggest Android paradoxes: button up represented as an arrow … to the left. Despite what it may seem, it is not a back button equivalent to the button on the navigation bar.

The button above serves to go up in the hierarchy of the screen you are on in the app, regardless of the previous screen. For example, if you are in a folder and you open two photos, one after the other, pressing back on the second photo would return you to the first photo. By pressing above, you should go to the list of files in the folder.



The application dock is a part of many application launchers. Specifically, the bottom row of icons that stays fixed even though you change pages on the home screen. Generally, the shortcuts that you want to always have at a touch away are included here, such as the Phone application, SMS or the camera.

App drawer


The app drawer is another part of the launcher, although it is not always available. It is the place where all the applications you have installed are displayedwhile on the home screen you may only have a few for quick access.

Some mobiles allow you to choose between if you want whether all apps are displayed on the home screen or not. If all applications are displayed on startup, as on an iPhone, then the application drawer is not displayed, being unnecessary.

Status bar

State bar

The status bar is the horizontal line at the top of the mobile where they are displayed notification icons, the time, the battery and some additional states such as mobile coverage and Wi-Fi, alarms or the status of the Bluetooth connection, among others.

Notification panel


The status bar shows you a preview with the icons of some apps that have notifications, but if you want view these notifications You must unfold it by sliding it down. So what is shown is the notification panel.

As its name suggests, in the notification panel you can see the notifications you have pending on your mobile and interact with or delete them. A few quick settings are displayed at the top of the notification panel.

Quick settings

Quick adjustments

Quick settings are something like buttons with which you can turn things on and off on mobile, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, airplane mode, do not disturb mode, or flashlight, to name a few.

The quick settings are displayed the same as the notification panel, sliding down from the status bar, although at the beginning only one row will be shown. If you want to see all the settings, you must swipe again to fully expand the panel.

Application shortcuts


Shortcuts, also known as Shortcuts App– they are shortcuts by which you can open an application directly in a concrete actioninstead of going through the normal input screen.

Not all applications have application shortcuts, but in those that do include them you can open them with a long tap on the app icon in a launcher that supports them, something quite common today. With them you can do things like open the camera directly in selfie mode or check quickly if you have pending updates on Google Play.

Notification badge


Google calls it a notification badge, although its English name is something more popular: Notification dots. Basically, they are circles displayed on an app icon to let you know that it has pending notifications. When you make a long touch on the icon, it is normal to see this notification in a similar way to how application shortcuts are displayed.

Not all launchers display notification badges the same – some display a number with the number of notifications pending and others do not directly support them so they are not shown.

Pop-up notifications


Google officially calls heads-up notifications “pop-up notifications,” which are briefly displayed as a banner on the top of the mobile for a few seconds. They are used for important notifications, such as those of new messages in applications like WhatsApp.

This type of notifications are automatically hidden after a few seconds, and from them you have access to quick actions such as responding from the notification itself, marking as read and the like. If you activate do not disturb mode on your mobile, these types of notifications are not displayed.

Quickly answers

Hi friend

Both from the pop-up notifications and from the notifications panel, in the notifications of messaging applications you have the possibility to reply from the notification itself, without having to open the application on duty.

In some apps, this involves typing in a small text box in the notification itself, while the latest versions of Android show you in some cases smart answers ready to use, like responding “Hello” when someone has greeted you.

Recent screen


The recent screen is also called the recent task list, recent apps, and Overview, and is something like the equivalent of Windows Alt + Tab: it shows you the apps you have recently opened, so that you can switch from one app to another.

To open this view with a navigation bar, you must press the button for this purpose, which is generally square. In gesture navigation, the normal way to show it is by swiping up slightly from the application dock.

Side navigation panel


The side navigation panel, or navigation drawer, is a fairly common resource in Android applications. It is activated by swiping left from the right side of the screen or by pressing the ☰ button and is generally used to display a menu with settings or links to different sections of an application.

The news

Android Glossary of Terms: What is a Launcher, Dock, Quick Settings, Notification Badges, and Other Parts of Android

was originally published in

Xataka Android

Ivan Ramirez


Android Glossary of Terms: What is a Launcher, Dock, Quick Settings, Notification Badges, and Other Parts of Android 1

Android Glossary of Terms: What is a Launcher, Dock, Quick Settings, Notification Badges, and Other Parts of Android 2