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An applet is a small software application, typically in the Java programming language, designed to run a single, specific task, and run from within another program, such as a browser.
Applets are commonly used for online games, such as those you can play on sites like Yahoo! Games, communication tools such as instant messaging and chat windows, online productivity tools, online maps, calculators, dynamic charts and graphs, and more.
While most applets are run from within a web browser, some applets can run independently. Many desktop messaging clients are applets written to run from within the operating system rather than a web browser, and many older mobile phones (non-smartphones) utilize Java applets to run simple programs and tools. Because they take up very little in terms of space and resources, applets are ideal for devices with limited RAM or internal storage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an applet and an app?
Apps, like applets, tend to be small programs designed to accomplish a narrow range of tasks; however, apps do not have to be as limited as applets, and they run independently of another program. Apps are primarily created for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets; however, many desktop operating systems now provide the ability to download and run apps as well. Whereas applets are often a tiny part of a web page, such as a small game you can play from within the page, apps are more often replacements for the entire page. For instance, many online retailers have apps which mobile users can shop from instead of using their website, and many social networking sites have app versions that are optimized to give users most of the features of their website in a streamlined, mobile-friendly package.
Are people still making applets?
While the number of sites hosting applets has declined with the rise of mobile devices, there are still plenty of sites that continue to create and host applets. Applets allow website owners to provide dynamic functionality in a very small package that require very little resources and can be run on nearly any desktop or laptop computer. That said, since many mobile devices do not support Java, it is likely the number of websites utilize applets will continue to decline and other methods of providing dynamic content will be used in their place, while some content will simply be removed from your browser completely and rebuilt as a more versatile (an often more lucrative) app.