Short for “application,” an app is a downloadable software program designed to perform a specific task.
App stores stock millions of these handy programs that customize smartphones to do virtually anything. Need to make a video call? Use the Skype app. Ready to read the latest bestseller? Launch the Kindle app.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an app and an application?
Apps, which are typically downloaded and installed on your device via an app store, are designed to fulfill a single function, such as telling you the weather, updating your Facebook page, or managing your calendar. Applications, which are usually installed using a disk or an executable file, are typically more complex and built to accomplish variety of tasks. For instance, office applications, such as MS Word, offer more features than their app counterpart.
Traditionally, apps were used on mobile devices, while applications were reserved for desktops computers and laptops; however, as mobile devices become more powerful and feature higher storage capacity, apps are becoming larger and more complex. At the same time, most desktop operating system now have their own app stores. The distinction between apps and applications is getting less defined, and there may be a time soon when we use the terms interchangeably.
Are apps only available for mobile devices?
Without a doubt, apps are best known for their role in making mobile devices so appealing, but apps are used for many other electronic devices as well. Most PC operating systems have begun supporting apps as well as traditional, more complex applications. Smart TVs, media devices such as Roku and Apple TV, and many Blu-ray players use apps to deliver multimedia content from streaming video providers, such as Netflix and Hulu, as well as music apps, photo apps, games, and a variety of other services. If your car has a touchscreen display, chances are it uses apps for music, maps, and more. As more of our devices become connected, the number that use apps is increasing all the time.
Can I use any apps on my phone or tablet?
The apps available for your device will depend on the operating system you are running. Some systems, such as Apple’s iOS, will only allow you to install apps that were downloaded directly from their app store. Other systems, such as Android, provide app stores where you will find most of your apps, but also allow users to install apps from any other source, including flash drives and the Internet, similar to the way desktop applications are available. In either case, you are limited to apps that have been designed specifically for your operating system. In some cases, you may also be limited by your devices features, speed, functionality, or even by the type of device. Some apps are designed exclusively for phones, while others are only meant for tablets. But don’t worry if all this seems a little confusing. Your device’s app store will typically only show you apps that your device can run.