What is an App? Meaning, Types, and Importance

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Written By Nidhi Sharma

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Apps are packaged software that is available on the cloud and intended for end-user consumption. 

Apps are packaged software that is intended for end-user consumption on a desktop or mobile device to accomplish a particular task.

An app is a particular type of application software that is designed and developed  to solve a specific kind of user's problem.

👉 This article will explain how apps work, and discuss their importance and types.

What is an App?

Apps are self-contained software packages that allow users to complete specific tasks on a desktop or mobile device.

Apps can be pre-installed or downloaded via an Apple App Store.

Apps can be written in several programming languages. Android apps can be written in Java and C++. iOS apps, however, are written in Swift under XCode IDE.

This software package combines code, data, and resource files to create a complete software bundle that is essential for any app to run. For example, Android's APK or IPA files for iOS.

The app bundle includes critical app files as well as additional metadata that is required to run an app framework.

👉 Let's take a look 👀 at some key components of apps that are the building blocks of an app.

1. Activities

An app's activity is a way for users to enter the app. It is displayed through the user interface (UI), which allows users to interact with and control the app.

An example of this is Instagram (IG), which might offer an activity that displays a collection of reels captured by users.

Another activity may allow users to create a story, post, or live video and yet another activity may only show the IG posts.

All these activities are coordinated to provide IG app users with a seamless user experience. However, each activity is distinct.

2. Services

The service is the name of the features that are running in the background. A UI does not reveal the service component.

It is important to be able to perform remote tasks. The service could play your favorite songs while you are using another app.

This allows users to interact with activity, while the service component continues to function.

3. Broadcast Receivers

The app can respond to system announcements by using a broadcast receiver component.

This system can send commands to other apps, even if they aren't running. You can, for example, set an app reminder to alert you about an upcoming meeting or event.

This will enable the broadcast receiver to be activated within an app. The app does not have to remain active or continue running until the alarm goes off.

4. Content Providers

The content provider component manages the shared app data and stores it in an accessible location for various apps.

This allows any app to query or modify data based on permission from the content provider.

The content provider component, for example, links APIs of multiple applications to a standard data storage level and shares app data access with other apps.

5. App Resources

An app is much more than source code. You will need audio content, images, and GIFs, or other visual presentation tools to create an app.

These resources allow users to customize and optimize their apps without having to change the code.

You can, for example, define an activity layout using a UI or design an app menu style. Or, create animations using XML files.

These app resources allow fine-tuning apps to be compatible with multiple device configurations such as different screen sizes and languages.

These components are essential because they allow apps to be versatile.

What does it Take to Make Apps Work?

  • The app's front end features a UI that allows users to interact with it.
  • The front end responds to users' requests and redirects them to the backend.
  • Apps' front and backend are equally important. Without a functional backend, the app may be considered useless, and vice versa.

APIs allow the front and backend to communicate.

Take the example of the eCommerce app eBay, which uses the Google cloud platforms to provide eCommerce services.

👉Let's suppose that the user wants to purchase a winter jacket. The user clicks on the "Buy Now" button to be directed to the checkout page, where they can select the payment option.

The eBay front ends sends the request to the backend servers, which connect to the target payment gateway.

  • The API allows two-way communication between the front and back end in the case above.
  • It also connects with an external payment provider, which displays the payment page to enable the user to make the payment.
  • The API makes sure that the app is active until the transaction is complete. The end user can then make the purchase.
  • It is important to note that the app backend plays a vital role in any mobile app.
  • It is vital for data storage, processing, and security. The app backend is responsible for retrieving the jacket from the database server.
  • Remote servers host the backend, which delivers the app features to the user via APIs.
  • Apps require a backend to function. It extends app functionality beyond what a smartphone can do.

It does not have a user interface. It was specifically created to allow communication between servers and devices. It provides seamless front-end app experiences.

Different Types of Apps

👇These are the most popular types of applications:

1. Native Mobile Apps

Native apps are designed specifically for mobile devices' operating systems (OS). Native Android and native iOS apps are both available.

Blackberry apps cannot be used on an Android phone and iOS apps on a Windows device, because they are specific to a platform.

Native applications can be developed in many programming languages. Javascript, Kotlin Python, Swift Objective-C, C++, and React are just a few examples.

2. Apps For The Web

A web browser window can be used to access web and mobile web apps. To function, the app doesn't require any installation or storage space.

Mobile web apps are easily adaptable to different screen sizes and devices. Native apps can be easily confused with web applications because they offer nearly identical functionality and speed.

The most important distinction between the two is that native apps can be used offline as well as online while web apps require an active internet connection to function.

3. Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps combine the best of both online and native applications. Hybrid apps can be developed using HTML, Javascript, or web tools.

They are compatible with different operating systems.

No longer will development teams have to grapple over Objective-C or Swift to construct native applications; instead, they may utilize common web technologies like Javascript, Angular, HTML, and Cascading style sheets (CSS ).

Hybrid apps are similar to Native applications. They are created on a particular platform and then published in multiple app stores like Apple's App store and Google Play.

Hybrid apps work best when applications don't require full-device access or high performance.

4. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs),

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), are web apps that combine progressive enhancement and service workers, manifest, or other web-platform capabilities to offer users an experience similar to native apps.

App stores such as Apple's App store and Google Play allow hybrid programs to be released.

Because PWAs can be found in search engine results or added to the device's home screen using the "Add To Homescreen" option, they are easier to find. PWAs allow for extensive customization.

5. Desktop Apps

A desktop application is software that can be run on a single computer to perform a specific task.

Some desktop applications, such as media players, word processors, and picture editors, allow you to accomplish multiple tasks. Others, like gaming apps, are only for leisure purposes.

Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other collaboration applications require an internet connection to run. They are different from other desktop software.

These are desktop versions of features that can be accessed on smartphones and other browsers.

6. Legacy Apps

An obsolete software program is known as a legacy application.

Many businesses depend on legacy software and computer systems to fulfill their business needs. The task is to keep the legacy application running while making it more efficient and using modern programming languages.

Legacy applications are usually dependent on a particular OS or programming language version.

For instance, a program designed to operate on Windows 7 may not be compatible with Windows 11.

Apps VS Mobile Websites

Both websites and apps are easy to build. However, for small businesses that aren't tech-savvy or app-centric, a responsive website is the best choice.

  • Mobile websites, also known as apps, share many common features such as one-click dialing and social sharing.
  • Although phone storage is limited and apps must be downloaded, responsive web pages are not.
  • A flexible web design allows customers of your business to communicate with you regardless of where they are located.
  • Responsive web pages are also easier to manage than apps. Web developers can modify information once, and it will update all OS systems and device categories.

👉 Let's take a look at the benefits of a mobile site that may make it better than apps.

1. A Mobile Website Can Be Used on Any Platform

Mobile websites may be accessible on multiple types of handheld devices. Native applications must be created for each type of device.

Mobile website URLs can also be easily integrated into other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR codes, or near-field communication (NFC).

2. It is Simple to Share a Mobile Website

Mobile website URLs can be shared with a link, such as embedded in an email, text, Facebook post, or Tweet. Publishers can direct users to mobile sites from blogs, websites, or printed materials.

This is not how a mobile application can be distributed.

3. Mobile Websites are Cost-Effective

Maintaining a website is more labor-intensive and costly than managing and updating an app (software upgrades, tests, compatibility problems, additional development, etc.).

4. Mobile Websites Allow for Rapid Updates

A mobile website is much more flexible than an application in terms of the ability to change content. You can modify the layout and contents of a mobile website by simply publishing the update.

The modifications will then be immediately accessible. Updates to an app require that you send updates to users. These must be accepted and downloaded to update the program on different devices.

👉 However, apps have their unique benefits. These factors make an app more useful than a website:

1. Integration With Native Functions of The Phone is Possible Through an App

Mobile web browsers have improved in their ability to access mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call and SMS.

They also offer device libraries, GPS functionality, and click-to-call. An app is the best alternative if you need to access a person's processing power or camera.

2. Apps can be Interactive and Personalized.

An app is the best choice for highly involved games like Angry Birds or Pokemon GO. Native apps are a great way to reach your customers if they will use your app frequently in a personal manner (such as EverNote, Facebook, or online banking).

3. A Mobile App Allows Offline Access

An app is a good choice if you need to access information offline or perform operations without a /wireless network connection. The data can be stored locally and uploaded once the link has been established.

4. A Mobile App can Handle Complex Data Processing

Let's say you need a tool that can accept data and allow you to modify it using complicated calculations, diagrams, or summaries (like financial tools or scientific ones). An app is a great option for this purpose.

5. Push Notifications can be Supported by an App

App publishers can send push notifications to customers with the app installed on their smartphones.

This allows them to communicate messages to users 24 hours a day, even though the app may not be visible. This assumes that the user has enabled notifications within the app's settings.

Are apps Important?

Apps are the main drivers of today's mobile economic system.

The App store was launched in 2008 and the iPhone came out in 2007. This triggered a revolution in smartphone technology.

Statista's Nov 2022 report states that in the third quarter of 2022 (Q3), Android users were able to choose from the 3.55 million apps available on Google Play.

The Apple App Store followed, offering 1.6 million iOS apps.

Apps are becoming increasingly popular because they offer many benefits to both company owners and large companies. These are just a few of the many benefits that apps offer:

  • Assisting business owners with the rapid deployment of software that increases their company's efficiency.
  • They are less expensive than other types.
  • This can increase a company's productivity, and help it expand its reach.
  • Employees are allowed to work from home.
  • Offer bookkeeping, inventory control, and contact center services to organizations
  • They allow for the handling of information in real-time.
  • Allow enterprises to communicate with customers and users.
  • Increases SEO ranking for the organization.


Apps are the core of modern digital experiences. Apps present functions and features in a well-organized way, which makes them more accessible and encourages users to keep using them. Thats all in this article, stay tuned.🤗

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