What Is an App? Types of Apps and Examples

Updated March 10, 2023

Apps are a significant part of the technology-driven world we live in and can enhance a person's life, enjoyment and productivity. Apps are also regularly used by companies both large and small to streamline production and increase ease of work. In this article, we discuss what an app is, the different types of apps and examples of common apps used today.

What is an app?

An app, which is short for "application," is a type of software that can be installed and run on a computer, tablet, smartphone or other electronic devices. An app most frequently refers to a mobile application or a piece of software that is installed and used on a computer. Most apps have a specific and narrow function.

For example, a food delivery app might only be designed for users to get food from local restaurants delivered and can't be used for anything else, such as grocery shopping or making restaurant reservations. There are currently millions of apps available in various categories like business, productivity, shopping and scheduling.

Apps can be especially important to business owners and businesses for several reasons, including that they:

  • Can help business owners quickly deploy software that helps the company run more efficiently

  • Are more cost-effective than other forms of software

  • Can extend the reach of a business

  • Can increase the productivity of a company

  • Enable employees to perform business functions outside of the office

  • Provide a number of services for businesses, including accounting, inventory management and CRM software

Related: Learn About Being a CTO (Chief Technology Officer)

Types of apps

There are a few different types of apps available for download by businesses and individuals alike. The following are the most commonly recognized apps in use today:

Web-based app

A web-based app is an application that requires internet access for complete use. These types of apps are coded in JavaScript, HTML5 or CSS. A web-based app typically requires a much smaller amount of memory space in a user's device because the databases are stored on the Internet server. Examples of web-based apps include Netflix, Google Docs and Dropbox.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Native app

Apps that are created for a certain mobile platform are known as native applications. For example, an app that is made for an Apple iPhone will only be usable on Apple devices and would not work on other types of mobile phones, such as Android. These types of apps are primarily used to provide the highest performance on a particular mobile operating system. An example of a native app is the calculator application on the iPhone.

Hybrid app

A hybrid app is an app that is made to support both native and web-based technologies and is a combination of both web-based and native applications. These apps are easier and quicker to create and only use a single code base that can be integrated across various platforms. However, it's important to note that hybrid apps often have a lower performance rate than native or web-based apps.

How to get apps

There are several different ways to get an app depending on where you wish to download it. For smartphones, users can download apps directly from the app store that corresponds with the type of mobile device they have. For example, if you have an Apple iPhone, you can download apps directly from the App Store that is located in the phone. For Android devices, users can download mobile apps from the Google Play Store and Amazon's Amazon Appstore.

The following are additional locations that mobile apps may be purchased and downloaded:

  • Microsoft Store

  • BlackBerry World

  • Windows Phone Store

  • Opera Mobile Store

  • Samsung Apps

To download apps onto a computer desktop, users can access applications in both official and unofficial capacities. For example, a desktop user could download apps from an unofficial source like FileHippo.com or Softpedia. Desktop apps are typically more widely available through unofficial sources. However, there are a few official app sources that are specific to the type of desktop a person has. For example, individuals who own an Apple Mac computer can download desktop apps from the Mac App Store.

Additionally, web applications can also be used on both mobile devices and desktops. These types of apps typically don't need to be downloaded. However, some search engines have their own application stores, such as apps that only run on Google Chrome.

Related: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

Examples of apps

There are millions of apps available for download on various platforms today. The following are a few well-known apps that many users and business owners incorporate into their daily lives:

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is an app that is available in various formats and on multiple platforms. This app can be downloaded directly from the web and installed on a desktop or laptop computer. It can also be downloaded onto a mobile device or tablet for use, although on these devices the app is fairly limited. Users must pay a subscription to download and use Microsoft Word.

Adobe Photoshop

This is another application that can be used on mobile devices, desktops and tablets. On a desktop, Adobe Photoshop is a complete software program and can be used in its full capacity. Adobe Photoshop Sketch is the mobile version of this application that can be installed on mobile devices and used in a limited capacity. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is a web-based version of this app that is also a condensed version of the desktop software program.

Facebook Pages Manager

This application was created for Android and iOS to allow business owners and other individuals with business Facebook pages to manage their Facebook activity. You can use this app from a smartphone or tablet.


This language-learning platform offers a website and app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. The app and the website are accessible for free, although Duolingo also offers a premium service for a fee. This app can be downloaded through various platforms.

Jobs that work with apps

If you enjoy working with apps, you might consider a career that involves finding clients through an app or developing, improving or teaching others how to use apps. Here are 10 jobs for you to consider:

1. App developer

2. UI designer

3. Software engineer

4. Instructional technologist

5. Customer support specialist

6. Mobile app developer

7. App support specialist

8. Social media coordinator

9. Brand ambassador

10. Communications manager

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