Article, June 2011
An App – What it is and What it does
By Sandy Berger, Compu-KISS
Sandy (at) compukiss.com
An app can be found on the iPhone and the iPad as well as many other smart phones and tablet PCs. In fact, Apple's introduction of the idea of apps in 2008 is what made smart phones and tablet PCs so popular. Up until that time, we were all used to full-blown programs like those that run on a computer. Most of these programs contain millions of lines of code, have numerous functions, and have menus that open up to reveal a multitude of choices.
In contrast, an app is a little mini program that has one basic function. It is an expression in simplicity. A good app does only one thing and it does it very quickly and easily. There are no nested menus and there are very few choices to make. One similarity between a full-blown program and an app is that both can be started by an icon that you choose by using a mouse or by pressing your finger on the screen. One of the best things about apps are that they are easy to use. The true beauty of the apps, however lies in their variety. There are hundreds of thousands of apps, but you don't have to use them all. You can choose only the ones you want. A computer program may be able to handle 100 different functions. Even if you only want to use one of those functions, you still have to install the entire program. Apps are different. You only install the ones you need.
However, like computer programs, apps are specific to an operating system. For example, a program that is created for the Mac will not run on a PC. An app that was created for the iPhone will not work on an Android phone. Each operating system has their own App Store or Marketplace where you can download apps. Many apps are free. Many are under $2.
Right now there is a large selection of apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad at the iTunes App Store. BlackBerry, Google (Android), Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung all offer apps through their own app storefronts.
If you have never used a smart phone or a tablet PC that uses apps, you will be amazed by the sheer number and variety of apps. Apple has over 300,000 apps in their App Store. Google has more than 200,000 in their marketplace.
Because of the wide variety of apps, it is difficult to talk about them all, but let me give you a quick idea of what an app can do. Using an app, you can express your artist abilities, play the piano, or visit with your Facebook friends. You can turn your phone into a level to get that picture straight, or turn it into a light saber and become a savior of the universe. There are apps to let you play games, find recipes, read news, get stock quotes, follow sports, shop, and compare prices. There are apps that help you relax, time the seeping of your tea, identify any song, tune your guitar, and even match the color of any object to a paint color.
Yes, there is an app that will help you do almost anything. And people are using these apps in numbers that seem almost unimaginable. The Apple app store opened on July 10, 2008 and they have already had over 10,000,000,000 downloads. The wild popularity of apps will entrench that word in the technical dictionaries for many years to come.Click here to return to top