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Apple user's dictionary of tech jargon

David Price | May 10, 2016
From Arrangement Mode to Xcode: we explain all the jargon in our plain-English dictionary of tech terms, focusing on concepts that affect Apple fans

The sleep/wake button seems somewhat prone to malfunctioning, unfortunately, but if your iPhone's sleep button isn't working, there is a clever fix.

What's a SIM?

The little chip in a phone or (if you want to add 3G capabilities) tablet that contains your 'cellular identity'. Comes in various sizes, most commonly micro-SIM and nano-SIM. We talk about the differences between these, which type is needed for each iPhone and iPad, and how to insert them, in our tutorial How to put a SIM card into a new iPad.

Mini-SIM, micro-SIM and nano-SIM

What is Siri?

Voice-recognition technology featured in more recent iPhones and iPads. (The iPad 3 and later, and the iPhone 4S and later, get access to Siri if they've updated to the most recent version of iOS.) Enables you to perform many features on the device without having to interact with the touchscreen.

What is Spotlight search?

Search technology found in iOS and Mac OS X devices that enables you to find many different types of information: contacts, documents, music files and so on. Can search through documents as well as by the file name.

What is the status bar?

The top bar running along the iOS devices. Displays many small icons related to the status of the device (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G and so on).

iOS 7 status bar

In this case, we can tell (reading from left to right): that the cellular signal is moderately strong (3 spots out of 5); that our carrier firm is 3; that we are connected to Wi-Fi, and that the Wi-Fi signal is strong (three bars out of three). Then on the righthand side of the screen: we are in Do Not Disturb mode (that's the moon symbol); we are using Bluetooth; that our battery is at 58% power (this is also indicated visually); and that we are currently charging the iPad. 

For more information on all the symbols that can appear on an iPad or iPhone screen, take a look at our article 'What does it mean on an iPhone when...'

What is a tap?

As well as an item of bathroom plumbing, a tap is a gesture used on iOS whereby you quickly place and then remove a single finger on the screen. Comparable to a 'left-click' used on a desktop mouse or trackpad.

What are taptics, or a 'taptic engine'?

A contraction of 'tap' and 'haptics', this is Apple's take on the haptic concept outlined above. Most famously, a taptic engine in the Apple Watch vibrates in such a way when you get an alert that it feels like it's tapping you on the wrist.


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