2.5. Mobile Devices and Apps Hardware and Software

Time Estimate: 45 minutes

2.5.1. Introduction and Goals

This lesson focuses on the basic hardware and software that work together to enable our mobile devices to run the amazing apps that we'll be building. As beginning programmers, it's important that we understand how the programs we write are interpreted and processed by the computer.

Learning Objectives: I will learn to
  • explain how data can be supported using bits
  • explain how computing devices work together in a network
Language Objectives: I will be able to
  • describe the relationship between data and bits using target vocabulary, supporting details and examples
  • describe the functionality of hardware and software components using target vocabulary, supporting details and examples
  • use target vocabulary, such as bits, bytes, binary code, computing device, while describing how data is represented and how hardware and software works together, out loud and in writing, with the support of vocabulary notes from this lesson

2.5.2. Learning Activities

What is a Computer?

A computing device is an electronic device for storing and processing data by following instructions given to it in a program. Mobile devices – smart phones and tablets – are general purpose computers. Like desktop and laptop computers, these general purpose computers can run different programs or apps. This contrasts with special purpose computers which can run only a single set program. Examples of special purpose computers include a simple non-programmable calculator, a microwave oven, a smart thermostat, and a car's anti-lock braking system.

Binary Code

As you will learn in this lesson, computers understand binary code or machine language. Binary code consists of 0s and 1s. One binary digit is called a bit. A group of eight bits is referred to as a byte. One byte of memory takes about the same amount of memory as a character, such as the letter 't'. You will learn more about binary in future lessons, including how to convert binary numbers into decimal numbers and how to convert binary numbers into colors or characters.

Mobile Apps and Devices


Working in pairs, complete the following interactive worksheet to match some of the vocabulary to a picture of a computer system or this computer terms matching worksheet.

2.5.3. Summary

In this lesson, you learned how to:

2.5.4. Still Curious?

Here's a cool video made by two Googlers that takes apart a Nexus 5 phone and explains what all the parts are.

Here are some additional resources you might want to look at to learn more about how computer's work:

2.5.5. Self-Check


Here is a table of the technical terms we've introduced in this lesson. Hover over the terms to review the definitions.

general purpose computer
high level language
machine language
special purpose computer

Check Your Understanding

Complete the following self-check exercises.

2.5.6. Reflection: For Your Portfolio

Answer the following portfolio reflection questions as directed by your instructor. Questions are also available in this Google Doc where you may use File/Make a Copy to make your own editable copy.

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