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A mobile app is a software application developed specifically for use on small, wireless computing devices, such as smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop or laptop computers.
Mobile apps are designed with consideration for the demands and constraints of the devices and also to take advantage of any specialised capabilities they have. A gaming app, for example, might take advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer.
Mobile apps are sometimes categorised according to whether they are web-based or native apps, which are created specifically for a given platform. A third category, hybrid apps, combines elements of both native and Web apps. As the technologies mature, it’s expected that mobile application development efforts will focus on the creation of browser-based, device-agnostic Web applications.
Mobile apps were originally offered for general productivity and information retrieval, including email, calendar, contacts, the stock market and weather information. However, public demand and the availability of developer tools drove rapid expansion into other categories, such as those handled by desktop application software packages. As with other software, the explosion in number and variety of apps made discovery a challenge, which in turn led to the creation of a wide range of review, recommendation, and curation sources, including blogs, magazines, and dedicated online app-discovery services. In 2014 government regulatory agencies began trying to regulate and curate apps, particularly medical apps. Some companies offer apps as an alternative method to deliver content with certain advantages over an official website.
Usage of mobile apps has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. A May 2012 com Score study reported that during the previous quarter, more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on their devices: 51.1% vs. 49.8% respectively. Researchers found that usage of mobile apps strongly correlates with user context and depends on user’s location and time of the day. Mobile apps are playing an ever-increasing role within healthcare and when designed and integrated correctly can yield many benefits.