So, what the hell is an APP? - Episode 1

Where do Apps come from and when did we stop to call them “programs”?.”There’s an app for that” says the 2009 campaign that pushed the launch of the iPhone 3G. App stands for application and was already in our vocabulary since the late 18th century. It took until the new millennium to make it famous. In fact, despite the early doubts of many of you on new era phone’s designs and mobile websites (“no physical keyboard?!” “why is flash not implemented? Touchscreen?”), APP was the word of the year 2010, according to the American Dialect Society. The App store was launched back in 2008 on iOS, Google play followed some months later. Since then, mobile Apps revolutionized our relationship with almost everything, from games to business, communication, personal interactions, even the way we listen to music or we travel. Along with progress and the Internet Of Things, Apps became the best way to interact through our – always smaller or thinner – devices with the surrounding environment, people or technologies. If you land here today with a time-machine from the 90’s, you will probably refer to this little standalone as “software program”. Basically, an App is a piece of software (or self-contained program, as your nerdy friend’s cousin will tell you) that runs a defined number of operations and can communicate externally, if needed.

Different kinds of Apps. So, you decide that you want an App. If you are thinking that a brilliant idea and some coding’s online courses will give you a free access to a lifetime jackpot, you are inevitably going to be very disappointed, my friend. Instead, start by making yourself the right questions will lead to the right choices. Does your idea or business already have a web presence? Do you (or someone in your team) have experience in programming? What about the design? Do you know what user-friendly means? Have you already registered an account on the stores where you want to upload your App? Who are your customers? As a business, you need a mobile presence. This is superlatively true if you want your brand or services to stand out. Some data to give you an overview: the average internet user spends almost 4.5 hours per day on the net, 2.5 hours on social media through one of the 3.5 active social media account (more statistics are available on We are Social). Consider on these numbers that mobile penetration today went up to 30%, worldwide! How can you reach directly your potential clients? Does your target-customer know your brand? Now calm down, I’m here to help. Let’s start by identify the different type of App. There are three main variable to consider: storage, delivery system and compatibility.

  • Web App: data are stored on a remote server that are delivered through the Internet. This App is compatible with any web browser (since it is usually programmed in HTML or javascript framework) and depends on a data connection. Common web Apps are social networks and email services. These particular kind of applications sanctioned the beginning of the Web 2.0 concept.
  • Native App: data are stored locally and it is designed for a specific hardware or device (smartphone, phablet, tablet or wearable). Can interact externally with the web or other Apps. Native Apps will always be more faster than web Apps, since there is no translation process. On the other side, they are really expensive, especially if you plan to design them for more devices.
  • Hybrid App: combines the elements of both, web and native App and it uses a “liquid graphic” that can adapt to multiple format and devices. It can be the best choice in order to reach all the existing stores ecosystem, maintaining the budget affordable. But beware! A bad App means bad advertising for your brand. Choose carefully your horses.