Application vs. Program (What’s the Difference?)
Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by
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Application vs. Program
In the ever-evolving world of technology, we often have to familiarize
ourselves with various terms that come up every single day. And while most of
words come with sharp differences, at times, we come across terms that
are considered to mean the same thing even though they are totally different.
A perfect example is the term program and application. Some years back,
the word program was used when referring to desktop operating systems such as
Additionally, apps were associated with mobile OS, such as
However, when desktop applications were developed, the difference between
the two become a little blurry.
Consequently, a major concern is that most users don’t understand that
there are subtle differences between programs and applications. If you are one
user, this article expounds in detail the similarities and the
differences between the two.
Meaning of Each Term
What is an Application?
An application (app) is a program or a collection of programs that have
been designed for the end-users. They help you to perform a set of
tasks, functions, or activities. From the definition, we deduce
that all apps are programs, but not all programs are necessarily apps. Another
thing to note about applications is that they can’t run on their
own, and they depend on system software to operate.
What is a Program?
Programs are a collection or sequence of executable instructions that aid
in the automatic performance of targeted tasks on a computer. It refers to
set of coded instructions that a computer can recognize to solve a
problem or yield the desired result.
Similarities Between Applications and Programs
The main similarity between applications and programs is the fact that
they are both used to perform various functions or tasks on a
Additionally, since an application is a collection of computer programs
that help end-users to solve a problem, it means that these programs must
and interact for this to happen. We are simply saying that all
apps need programs to perform end-users’ commands. For example, when you want
to watch a
movie via VLC, the player will require
audio and video
drivers to operate.
Differences Between an Application and a Program
A program requires an installer that is packaged with necessary files for
it to be installed on a computer. Conversely, it may also seek to download
data from the web before it installs. On the other hand, an app is a
single file that a user downloads from the internet and installs it on their
And unlike programs, you don’t need a separate uninstaller to
uninstall apps from your computer.
2. Target User
As mentioned earlier, an app is developed with the end-user in mind. As
such, it is structured to help users complete a given function, task, or
A program, on the other hand, is created to help a computer
execute a specific purpose, and it can run on the background without the
3. User Interface
Since an app is designed to be utilized by real individuals, it boasts a
user interface (UI). However, programs don’t necessarily need to have a UI
them to be considered complete, For instance, viruses and malware that
are used by hackers to infect your computer are programs, but they don’t have
Since an application can feature several programs, it is usually
developed through a structured and documented process that may involve several
On the other hand, a program can be created by a single
individual. However, it is vitally essential to understand that today’s apps
can be developed by
But since these essentials are also designed by
someone else, it still means that several people will still be involved in the
While an app requires various programs to exist and operate, programs
don’t need an app to execute their roles. For example, while MS Word (an
requires multiple drivers such as Prime number sieve and
square root finder (programs) to function, the drivers don’t need MS Word to
execute their roles.
The differences between applications and programs have been blurred for a
very long time, and most people have been using them interchangeably.
from what we have seen in this article, although apps and programs
intersect at some point, they are not synonymous. They are a means to an end,
need to be treated differently. We live in a dynamic environment
where everything is influenced by technology. Nevertheless, we must
learn to differentiate
terms, whether they have been in existence for
decades (programs) or have emerged due to the changes in technology
Stay safe & take care. Mike.
Just once, I want a username
and password prompt to say: "Close Enough!"