What’s in a name? A lot, when it comes to all the different app types out there. Here’s a quick rundown:
These apps are designed to run on Apple’s devices — the iPhone or iPad. iOS apps are available from Apple’s iTunes store. iTunes is itself an app that you download and install on your computer. You can also preview apps (although it’s not nearly as convenient as iTunes itself) at the iTunes Preview web site.
If an app runs on the iPhone, it’s a safe bet that it will also run on the iPad — you would normally hit the little 2x button on your screen to make the app fill the available space. The app may look a little fuzzier, but it’ll be easier to see and work with.
Some iOS apps are designed for the larger screen of the iPad only, and have no iPhone counterpart.
“Universal” apps were designed to look great on either the iPhone or iPad. In iTunes, these apps are designated with a plus symbol near its icon, and you only have to buy them once for both devices.
Sometimes an app has both an iPhone version and an iPad version, but they are not Universal; you’ll have to buy each separately, or buy the iPhone app only and hit the 2x button when using your iPad. Note, however, that you’re likely missing out on many extra features built into the iPad version.
The iPod touch is like an iPhone without the phone. It is able to run most iPhone apps.
These apps were designed to run on Android devices (such as Google Nexus, Xoom, Galaxy Tab, and Kindle Fire). The Android OS powers both tablets and phones. Android apps are purchased from the Google Play web site.
Kindle Fire apps
The Kindle Fire is Amazon.com’s color tablet. It’s a proprietary flavor of Android, made just for the Kindle. Kindle Fire cannot download apps from Google Play, however; you’ll have to get your apps from Amazon’s Appstore for Android.
Appstore for Android has a different app approval timeline than does Google Play, so the same app may be on different versions between the two stores, or it may even be offered in one store but not the other.
Windows Phone apps
Windows Phone apps are designed to run on smartphones with the Windows Phone operating system. They are available for download from the Windows Phone Store.
Windows Store apps
Windows Store apps are the relative newcomer from Microsoft. They are designed to run under Windows 8 and Windows RT, and the Windows Store is only accessible on a computer running either of these operating systems.
Web apps run in any mobile web browser and are not tied to any particular hardware device. Most run just fine on your desktop web browser, but are really designed for the small screen of a smartphone or tablet.
One day, every app may be a web app, and you won’t have to worry about devices or dedicated online app stores. Until then, make sure the garden app you fall in love with will work on your device. :-)