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What are apps? Our complete guide for iOS, Android and Windows

What is an app and how do you download apps onto a phone or tablet? Check out our complete guide to iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows applications.

If you’re new to smartphones, chances are you’ve heard of apps but don’t really know what they are. So, what are iOS, Android and Windows applications, how do you download apps and how do you use apps? Here’s our complete apps guide to help you out.

What is an app?

Apps are basically simple programs that you can download onto your phone or tablet. There are all kinds of different apps, including social media apps (such as Facebook and Twitter), apps which allow you to chat with friends (such as Skype), apps which help you to get around (such as Google Maps), apps which play music and video (such as Spotify and YouTube) and so on.

You can download apps from your phone or tablet’s online store; so for instance, Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad use Apple’s App Store for downloading apps. Some apps are free to download, while others cost a small fee.

One word of warning: some apps come with ‘in-app purchases’, which means you can spend money inside of the app in order to unlock bonus features. Ever read a story about how some parents discovered – with suitable horror – that their kid rang up a £5000 bill on their phone? Chances are it was through in-app purchases. So be sure to keep an eye on what apps your family members are using.

What about mobile games? These are also apps, which can be downloaded in the same way as other apps. Again, some are free and some cost money – and some of the free ones offer the dreaded in-app purchases.

Check out our guide to the best Android apps, best iPhone/iPad apps and best Windows phone apps for a good idea of where to start. And whatever you do, don’t download any of these horribly useless apps.

Below you’ll find our quick and easy guides on how to download apps and games onto your specific phone or tablet, whether it’s an iOS, Android or Windows device.

How do I download apps onto my iPhone or iPad and open them?

First, you need to create an Apple ID if you haven’t already. You can do this by going to your iPhone or iPad’s settings, then head to iTunes & App Store. At the top of the page you’ll see your Apple ID listed if you’re already signed up. Else, you can set up your ID by entering your email address and choosing a password.

With that done, find and tap the App Store on your desktop. This is Apple’s online apps store (as the name sensibly suggests), which allows you to browse a huge collection of free and paid apps. To make it easier to browse around, Apple selects its pick of the best new apps and games every week and you can also check out the most popular apps in the charts.

How do I download apps onto my Android phone or tablet and open them?

The process for downloading Android apps is much the same as on Apple devices. However, instead of an Apple ID, you’ll need to sign up for a Google account. You can do this in Settings > Accounts.

With that done, open up the Google Play app which comes pre-installed on Android phones and tablets. This takes you to Google’s online store where you can browse the latest app charts and search for specific apps.

How do I download apps onto my Windows phone or tablet and open them?

Head to the Windows Market by tapping the Market app in your list of apps. This is Microsoft’s online store which gives you instant access to a large range of apps, separated into a number of categories.

You’ll need to set up a Microsoft account in order to download apps, which can be done by following the instructions when you attempt to download an app for the first time.

How do I delete apps from my iPhone or iPad?

If you wish to delete an iPhone or iPad app, simply find it on your desktops and then tap and hold your finger on it. After a second or two, all of your apps will start to tremble and a little ‘X’ appears in the top right corner of each icon. Tap the X on an app and it will be deleted.

Note that Apple’s first-party apps such as Safari can’t be uninstalled. If you don’t want them on your desktops, you’ll have to shove them in a folder to hide them away.

How do I delete apps from my Android phone or tablet?

To delete an Android app, you can’t simply remove the icon from your desktop. Instead, head to Settings > Apps and scroll down to the app you wish to delete. Give it a tap and then select ‘uninstall’.

How do I delete apps from my Windows phone or tablet?

Flick your finger left across the main desktop to bring up your full list of installed apps. Scroll down until you find the one you wish to delete, and then press and hold your finger on it. The option to ‘uninstall’ will pop up after a second or two. Choose this and the app will be deleted.


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