For many people, an application and an app both are the same, but there are certain differences between the two. Applications are operated on a desktop and cannot be run on a mobile platform; whereas, an app can run on mobile phones. It can also run on desktops, but is specifically designed for mobiles and tablets. There are certain features that differentiate an application from an app. They are as follows:
Applications are large in memory and they are capable of handling huge amounts of data. They are capable of doing many tasks. Whereas apps are of less memory and can handle only a moderate amount of data. An app is designed to perform only a specific task. Some examples of applications are Open Office, photo-shop, browsers and of apps are Quick Office, WhatsApp, Angry Birds.
Applications are designed to operate on heavy operating systems like Windows XP/Vista/7, Apple OS (OS X) and Ubuntu that is to say, they can be operated only on desktop operating systems. On the other hand, apps are specifically designed to operate on light mobile operating systems like Android, iOS and Windows Phone OS.
Apps can run not only on mobiles and tablets, but also on desktops provided, of course, that the desktop OS supports those apps. Applications can run only on desktops and laptops but not on mobiles and tablets.
Applications will have full functionality and they can be used for accomplishing a wide range of tasks. For example, if we take Firefox browser application, it is capable of doing different tasks like opening websites, playing videos in websites, showing maps and stocks.
Apps, on the other hand, have limited functionality and can accomplish only a single task for which they are designed. Different apps are designed to perform different individual tasks like playing YouTube videos, showing stocks maps. For example, WhatsApp can be used only for messaging for which it is designed.
Applications are priced much higher compared to that of apps because applications are sophisticated and are capable of performing intensive and a wide range of tasks. Whereas apps will not cost much as they are very basic in design and are designed for performing specific simple tasks. Many apps are available free of cost.
Applications are provided by major IT companies like Windows, Apple, Adobe and others. Applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop are used for performing several tasks and they cost more. Apps are available for mobiles in different stores like Apple app store, Google Play (Android), Windows phone store and BlackBerry app world, all these stores can be directly accessed from the mobile.