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What is a Mobile App?

A mobile application is a set of programs developed particularly for use on wireless computing devices such as tablets and smart phones.

Mobile App

A mobile app, also known as a mobile application, is just that – an application software developed for specific use on handheld devices, particularly mobile phones and smartphones. While there are many types of software applications, mobile apps are made for (and sometimes even created with) mobile pieces of technology. A mobile app is not made for desktop computers, laptop computers, gaming consoles, or other, less-mobile, pieces of technology.

Most mobile apps are designed either for the Android software or the iOS software, as they are the two biggest competing operating systems for mobile devices. However, mobile apps can be made for a variety of other platforms as well, with availability on Google and sometimes even web pages.

Mobile apps are made to meet not only the demands of the consumer market, but also the limitations and requirements of working with a mobile platform. Depending on the feature a mobile app developer will want the mobile app to have, the app will target a certain part of the mobile device’s capabilities.

How Mobile Apps are Made

The way a mobile application is made depends on what the mobile app developer will want the end result to be. For example, if the developer wants to make a mobile app that serves as a video game, the developer may include the mobile device’s accelerometer as part of the mobile app development process. This is a common practice when it comes to developing apps for iPhones. Or, if the app is developed for a phone but will be later integrated on to a web page, the mobile app developer may focus on creating a device-agnostic application that is based in a browser rather than designed for a specific mobile phone operating system.

All mobile apps are categorized by platform as well as by function. The three main categories of a mobile app will typically include web-based apps, native apps, and hybrid apps. Web-based and native apps are always developed for a specific platform, and may or may not be later re-developed for other platforms. The third category, hybrid apps, will combine some elements of native apps along with web-based apps for integration across multiple platforms.

What Makes a Mobile App Unique

There are several distinctions between a mobile application and other types of software application. It’s important to keep in mind the following elements that make up a mobile app in order to understand their uniqueness:

  • A mobile app should be designed with the end image in mind – a mobile app developer should know which platform they plan on designing for, as well as what the functionalities of the app will be. That will help them target specific features of the mobile device’s operating software.
  • Developers look to create more browser-friendly mobile apps – mobile app developers want to create a more hybrid future where mobile apps take the technology of their original platform and integrate it to function on web browsers.
  • Keep it simple – mobile apps are diverse and functional, but each app really only serves a single purpose. Try to keep this in mind when looking to develop a new mobile app.

By understanding these fundamentals of mobile applications, it is easy to remember the distinctions between these mobile and web-based applications and other types of software that may be more static.