App; Application; Program; Computer program;
An app is a complex of software functions used to complete a task. These functions fall under one name. For example, you might describe an image editor, a message app or word processor as an app or application. ‘App’ is often applied to downloaded software on a mobile device.
‘Application’ is a term for software on PCs. Again, it describes complex PC software used to complete a task. Image editors and word processors are examples of an application.
The terms ‘App’ and ‘Application’ are sometimes used interchangeably. In common usage, there is little to choose between them. The two are distinguished by device type.
In early computing, ‘software’ referred to a program . Today, a program is a collection of instructions in computer code. So, the term applies to code executed by a computer. However, a program also provides the functions for an application.
Mobile software is gaining broader appeal. However, mobiles can be slow and have limited computing power. Online, an app can run on a server. This means they can be complex, but still run fast. The server has the power to run the complexity that would otherwise slow down a mobile app. Hence, image editors and other complex post processing tasks work fast on mobile devices. Camera connectivity is increasing too. So, we may see complex post processing as an app start to appear on camera. The limiting factor for an app for image editing on a DSLR is the small screen size.
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Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has also run a major website, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
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