Application software app for short is software designed to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities for the benefit of the user. Examples of an application include a word processor, a spreadsheet, an accounting application, a web browser, an email client, a media player, a file viewer, an aeronautical flight simulator, a console game or a photo editor. The collective noun application software refers to all applications collectively. This contrasts with system software, which is mainly involved with running the computer.
Applications may be bundled with the computer and its system software or published separately, and may be coded as proprietary, open-source or university projects. Apps built for mobile platforms are called mobile apps.
In information technology, an application (app), application program or software application is a computer program designed to help people perform an activity. An application thus differs from an operating system (which runs a computer), a utility which performs maintenance or general-purpose chores), and a programming tool (with which computer programs are create original research. Depending on the activity for which it was designed, an application can manipulate text, numbers, audio, graphics and a combination of these elements. Some application packages focus on a single task, such as word processing; others, called integrated software include several applications.
The delineation between system software such as operating systems and application software is not exact, however, and is occasionally the object of controversy. For example, one of the key questions in the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust trial was whether Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser was part of its Windows operating system or a separable piece of application software. As another example, the GNU/Linux naming controversy is, in part, due to disagreement about the relationship between the Linux kernel and the operating systems built over this kernel. In some types of embedded systems, the application software and the operating system software may be indistinguishable to the user, as in the case of software used to control a VCR, DVD player or microwave oven. The above definitions may exclude some applications that may exist on some computers in large organizations. For an alternative definition of an app: see Application Portfolio Management.