Once upon a time, there were people called programmers who wrote software which was then called programs. Actually, the programmers wrote the operating system software too. Mostly they wrote applications, but you don’t hear of software applicationers or system software applicationers, do you?

It’s complicated. Let’s take a step back.

There is software. Software is generally split into two categories by function: operating system software and application software. Programmers, or software developers, write both.

The terms program and application are not synonymous: all applications are programs but not all programmes are applications. For an in-depth explanation, refer to this article:


Totally confused? Don’t be. Mostly people now call programs “applications”.


The term App originally referred to small applications designed to be installed & run on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This ability to download small programs to extend the capabilities of a device is really what makes a smartphone “smart”.

Websites such as Facebook, Instagram & Twitter also offer Apps. There is not always feature parity between the website and the App, for example, the Instagram website does not support the uploading of images to Instagram — you use the app to do that (check back soon for a sneaky workaround to this!).

Many Apps are free, many are for purchase.

App stores

Devices usually come with many apps preinstalled. Additional apps, as well as their updates, can be downloaded from online App Stores. An App Store is accessed using an App store app installed on the device which allows the user to download and install apps. This offers a number of other advantages, such as keeping track of upgrades in one central location.

  • Google Play Store
  • Apple App Store
  • Windows Store

App stores allow users to rate apps and give feedback on the site to allow prospective users to choose which apps are best suited to their needs. The respective companies also regulate the Apps that are available: they must comply with certain standards and requirements, offering the end-user some level of guarantee of safety and security (as opposed to software downloaded off a website that is unknown to the user).

By MisterFoxOnline

CAT Educator

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