What is an Android ROM?
Android is an open-source operating system based on the Linux kernel, developed by Google for touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablet PCs.
ROM here just means Operating System and is NOT related to computer ROM (Read Only Memory).
So, Android ROM = Android OS
More information on Wikipedia
What is a Stock ROM?
A stock ROM means the version of Android OS made for a specific device by the manufacturers of the device. In layman terms, the OS you interact with when you take a new device out of the box, is it’s stock ROM. Stock ROMs are different for every device and they often include features intentionally implemented by manufacturers of the specific device. Here’s everything about stock ROMs, and why they might be better than custom ROMs in some cases.
What is a Custom ROM?
Android is an open-source software, which means, anyone can decompile it, add or remove features and then recompile and publish it for use. These tweaked or modified versions of Android, made by a person or a group of people are called custom ROMs. Like stock ROMs, custom ROMs also vary from device-to-device.
What is AOSP?
The Android Open Source Project (or AOSP) is the most barebone version of Android, with just the necessary applications and features, without any 3rd party ones. AOSP was earlier included with Nexus devices, but now, it is difficult to find devices running pure stock AOSP ROMs. Thanks to ROM developers though, AOSP is ported to and used in many devices.
What is Root?
Rooting (in Android) means getting access to privileged system level settings, files, and options (also known as Root Access), that are not accessible without root; to change, tweak, and/or modify the OS as per one’s liking. Rooting comes with many benefits, and also, many compromises. More information here >
What is Superuser?
Superuser is a term used to refer to apps that can utilize root access to perform several tasks. You will need an additional app to allow/deny root permissions (superuser access) to apps. Two of the very popular superuser controller apps are SuperSU & Magisk.
What is ADB?
ADB, or Android Debug Bridge, is a command-line utility tool included with Google’s Android SDK package. It helps a user to take control of his Android device on a computer via USB. Also, ADB can help perform many root-only tasks, like running shell commands, batch install/uninstall of apps & more, without rooting the device. More information here >
What is a Bootloader?
A Bootloader (or HBoot) is the first checkpoint in the boot (or start) of the OS. It is responsible for checking the security of both the hardware and the software while a device boots up. The bootloader in Android is like BIOS in PCs. It includes a set of instructions and information to boot the OS. Most of the manufacturers select to sell their devices with a locked bootloader, which makes it impossible to run custom ROMs. Users have to unlock the bootloader in order to flash and use custom ROMs. Here’s much more info about Android bootloaders.
What is a Recovery?
Recovery, or Recovery Mode, in Android refers to a bootable partition on the device that has the recovery console. It does what its name says: recovery. In case of a system failure, or lockout, it helps the user regain access to the OS by various methods. Like ROMs, there are two types of recoveries: stock and custom. Stock Recoveries come pre-installed with the stock ROM, and custom ones, you guessed it, are made by 3rd party developers, just like custom ROMs. More information here >
What is a Kernel?
A Kernel is kind of an interpreter that transfers commands between the software and the hardware. It is the medium through which software and hardware interact with each other. In layman terms, a kernel converts software level language into hardware level language and vice-versa, which makes the execution of various operations possible. Any operation that is carried out on the device, any, goes through the kernel. Kernels are available for other operating systems too, like Windows & iOS.
Again, there are basically two types of kernels: stock and custom. More information here >
What is a Mod?
Modified Apps are referred to as Mods, in the world of Android. Many times, there is an App that isn’t compatible with some devices or has lesser features and options for some devices. In such a case, the app is modified to work equally on such devices, by altering some codes. Those are called Mods, or Modded Apps, or Modified Apps.
What is a Port?
Ported Apps and Features are referred to as Ports, in the world of Android. Apps and features from a certain device are ported (extracted from its system) and made available for other devices. More often than not, a ported application also has to be modified for it to work on other devices.
What is a Tweak?
Tinkering with options on devices to achieve certain benefits (e.g., longer battery life, better performance) is called Tweaking. We also call them tips and/or tricks.
What are GApps?
A proprietary set of applications made by Google that come pre-installed all verified Android devices are called GApps. These include common Google apps like the Play Store, Play Services, Gmail, Maps, etc. Due to licensing restrictions, GApps are no more included in (most of the) custom ROMs. You will need to flash GApps if your ROM does not come with GApps included. More information here >
What is an OTA (update)?
Over-the-Air updates are called OTA in short. It is a self-explanatory process, meaning, distribution of software update packages ’over the air’, or, wirelessly. Devices can receive OTA updates with the use of a special OTA app built into the ROM. However, not all ROMs have OTA support, thus, the user has to download the update package by visiting an external download link. Here’s a more detailed post on OTA updates.
What is a Brick?
A brick is a cuboidal shaped material used in the construction of buildings and walls. Well, this is, however, not the definition of brick in Android’s dictionary. A bricked Android device means a device that does not boot (or startup) properly. There are two kinds of bricks- soft brick and hard brick. Failure of boot because of failure/errors in the software (or OS) is called a soft brick, whereas failure of boot due to hardware errors/failure in the hardware (motherboard, buttons, etc.) is called a hard brick. More information here >
What is a Reset?
A reset, commonly referred to a Factory Reset or Data Reset, is a process of erasing all the user’s app, data and/or personal files, and start the device as a brand new one. There are, again, two types of Resets – soft reset & hard reset. Resetting the device from within the device’s software (settings) is called soft reset, whereas doing so from its recovery is called a hard reset. More information here >
What is a Wipe?
A wipe in the ROM dictionary, means a hard reset, to keep it simple. When we flash new ROMs, or ROM updates, it is recommended to do a wipe. Unlike a full reset though, we can chose what partitions we want to wipe (in recovery), which makes two type of wipes, i.e., full wipe and partial wipe. More information here >