App is an abbreviation for application, as in application program. For example, your personal computer–based word processor or spreadsheet is an application. The office management software that runs your office and unites your staff is an application. But today, app is more than just an abbreviation—the word has taken on a very specific meaning, reflecting the evolution of software over the last half century.
There have been three generations of applications. Although they have evolved over time, all three still exist and are in widespread use.
Here’s a brief description of how applications have evolved over the years:
- First-generation applications: These are applications that run on individual computers a personal computer or a corporate mainframe.
- Second-generation applications: These applications are networked with multiple simultaneous users using a single applica tion program, such as a corporate database or office billing sys tem. Many of them are still in use today, and their basic architecture is the same as that used to develop them originally often in the 1960s and often for minicomputers that no longer exist today.
- Current-generation apps: Apps, which are referred to as Apps 3.0 if you want to be specific, are an advance on the second generation applications. There is still a networking component in most cases and, very often, a shared database. Instead of the user interface being implemented in HTML on the Web or in a program ming language running on a local computer, the user interface itself has two components. A framework defined by an applica tion program interface (API) is used and reused for many differ ent applications. A very specific piece of code an app is inserted into that framework for each task that is needed. The framework provides much more than just an interface; it is able to perform sophisticated tasks that are unique to that framework and its envi ronment. For example, in the case of Facebook, those tasks allow the app to request a list of the current user’s friends; in the case of iPhone, the app can find the device’s location.
As apps become more prevalent and more powerful, entrepreneurs and small business owners are relying on these savvy tools to help their businesses grow and run more smoothly.
Application software, known as an "app", are designed to help the user to perform certain tasks, principally those with documentation. Apps are usually bundled with the computer but can be published separately.
Business apps are used alongside system apps which manage and integrate a computer's capabilities, by typically performing tasks that benefit the user. Apps apply the power of a particular computing platform or system to a particular purpose. Some business apps such as Microsoft Office are available in versions for several different platforms; others have narrower requirements and are thus called, for example, a Geography application for Windows or an Android application for education or Linux gaming. Sometimes a new and popular application is produced which only runs on one platform, increasing the desirability of that platform and is known as a killer application.
No matter your weapon of choice from iPhone to iPad, BlackBerry, Android or Palm device, apps make every entrepreneur’s life that much easier. But with thousands available for download on dozens of mobile gadgets, it can be hard to tell which are really worth their weight in microchips.
Google Apps is a powerful set of tools that Google has bundled together to meet the needs of businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations of any size. You can use Google Apps as a powerful digital communications infrastructure for your business or school that Google maintains for you. The key Google Apps are
- Gmail: An e-mail app based on Google’s popular Gmail platform. This version lets you use your organization’s domain, such as user@ yourdomain.com.
- Calendar: A calendar and scheduling app that allows easy collaboration.
- Talk: Instant messaging, available directly from within Gmail or as a standalone software application. Talk also allows voice calls, voice mail, and file sharing.
- Docs: A simple, yet powerful, set of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps.
- The Start Page: An app that you can personalize by adding gadgets to access any or all of the other Google Apps, as well as news, weather reports, entertainment information, and more from one place.
When thinking about Apps and how to leverage this technology to either benefit your business or make money directly from applications, you should consider these points:
- App development can be inexpensive. Because apps do not have to implement (or reimplement) environmental functions, they are smaller and less expensive to produce. For the user, that trans lates into a lower cost sometimes none.
- Facebook and iPhone are your partners. On iPhone, third party developers create apps, and users buy them from Apple’s iTunes App Store. On Facebook, apps are free, but users install them in their Facebook account using Facebook itself. For both iPhone and Facebook, part of the user experience includes having directories of third party apps.
- Users have to use iPhone or Facebook to use your app. Because the primary interaction is with the environment, if a user wants to use an app that runs on Facebook, he or she must join Facebook. If the user wants to run an app that runs on iPhone, he or she needs an iPhone. Thus, Facebook and Apple are encourag ing third party apps to increase their own user base.
- Apps are often easy to use. Apps are often easier to use than traditional stand alone applications not only because the environ ment provides functionality to the apps but also because that func tionality is provided in specific ways that users have to learn only once.
Business Apps include:
- Enterprise resource planning
- Accounting apps
- Task and scheduling
- Field service management
- Data management
- Contact management
- Personal database
- Document automation / assembly
- Word processing
- Desktop publishing apps
- Diagramming apps
- resentation apps
- Day trading apps
- Banking apps
- Clearing systems
- Arithmetic apps
Content access apps
- Electronic media apps
- Web browser
- Media players
- Hybrid editor players
Enterprise infrastructure apps
- Business workflow apps
- Database management system (DBMS) apps
- Digital asset management (DAM) apps
- Document management apps
- Geographic information system (GIS) apps
Hardware engineering apps
- Computer-aided engineering
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
- Finite element analysis
apps engineering apps
- Computer language editor
- Compiler apps
- Integrated development environment
- Game creation apps
- Program testing tools
- License manager
There is a word for businesses that don't have any money coming in: dead. There are also words for companies that can't keep their records straight when it comes to money – they tend to be non-compliant, or bankrupt, or in serious trouble at some stage. This is where having a good mobile app can be a great deal of help.
In terms of getting paid in the first place, have a look at ZNAP which allows you to put a basic point of sale (POS) system into your home business using the merchant web station function, so you get POS through your phone or tablet. Intuit Pay does the same thing. It allows you to take payments through a card reader that attaches to your phone through a Bluetooth connection.
Other apps will help you issue invoices and keep on top of your accounts. A lot will depend on which system you use to handle your accounts overall. FreeAgent customers will find the company has issued Invoice-o-matic so that you can just send a bill when you need to. Xero goes further by having a full-blown accounting system in app form. Quickbooks also works through the cloud and on mobile devices. Also useful for on the move accounting is ExpenseTracker, which does what it says on the tin but outputs only to a spreadsheet.
Finally, if you use invoice financing, ask your provider whether they have an app. IGF Invoice Financing has recently issued its own app so you can check how your account is faring no matter where you are.
Organising customer information is a must for any business. Bento, an app that works as a database with a friendly front end, works through most tablets and smartphones, and will organise contacts and clients, track projects and will print QR codes and labels.
Putting data in through a phone or tablet can be laborious. If you're using a smartphone with a camera on it, Scanbizcards will put the details into your phone's database and then sync with whatever your phone syncs with. Watch out though as card layouts are nowhere near as standard as they used to be and more people are going "arty", so scans may need careful editing. While you're out visiting those customers, be aware of WorkSnug, which uses augmented reality to show you where the nearest Wi-Fi working spaces are.
There are five easy to use, cloud-based, and scalable apps for your business. Each app is free for businesses just getting off the ground.
This suite of business apps will help you start planning, marketing and protecting your business from emergency situations. These downloadable applications can improve productivity, ROI and time management for businesses of all sizes.
Zendesk simplifies and streamlines customer service. The app consolidates all customer communications — email, social media, websites, and even phone — into individual “tickets” that your entire business can access and respond to. You can automate standard responses, store customer histories, and create product forums where customers can interact and answer each other’s questions.
File-sharing is a critical part of a growing business, and Google Drive makes it nearly foolproof. Multiple users can collaborate in real time, creating, editing, and commenting on documents in the cloud. Revisions save automatically, and, most importantly, you can access your documents from any device. All of this represents a huge productivity leap over the old-fashioned approach: attaching documents to emails and sending endless iterations back and forth.
Evernote is an indispensable app that sucks up all of the random data you encounter on the Internet and in your real life. Whether it is excerpts from websites, photos, voice memos, documents, or handwritten scribbles, it all gets stored and organized in the cloud as individual “notes.” These notes can then be sorted, tagged, edited, and even shared with colleagues. All of this information is in turn accessible across all of your devices and automatically synced.
While social media has proliferated, old-fashioned email marketing remains a critical way to reach clients and build connections. MailChimp is a no-nonsense, intuitive tool for creating email lists and keeping track of which customers are opening messages and clicking on links. You can easily import contacts and even segment your lists so subscribers receive only relevant emails. MailChimp also includes basic features, for comparing which subject lines and send times work best.
All of these business apps have stood the test of time and have healthy, growing userbases, which means they’ll be around with regular updates to keep things fresh. Apart from being mobile-ready, they also integrate seamlessly with desktop browsers.
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