The Galaxy S4, like other smartphones, runs apps. What is an app? App is short for application, which is the current terminology for computer program. In other words, it’s a set of digital instructions that your device can understand and execute, to perform a specific task. A device can be anything from the smallest watch-like gizmo that you wear on your wrist, to the giant mainframe computer that helps keep the space station in orbit, to everything else in between.
For the consumer, “app” generally refers to an app that you can call up by touching an icon (that small square picture) on your phone or tablet screen (or on your computer if it has touch-capability). The human-phone interface on Android devices is very heavily driven by apps. Some comments:
- Tapping an icon on a phone is roughly equivalent to clicking on an item using a mouse on a PC.
- Tap the Phone icon to activate the app to make a call, pick up a call, etc. Apps also control your contact list, email, calendars, etc.
- Your Internet browser is an app – since Android is Google, you get the Chrome app with your initial setup, but you can download apps for other browsers
- From your start screen, you tap an icon called Apps to access most of the apps on your phone
- To change phone settings, including selecting a wi-fi network, you tap the Settings app
- You can download additional apps to your phone – within the apps list, you click the down-arrow to get to already-downloaded apps
- Android Apps to download are available in the Play Store – many of these are free. Stores, restaurants, TV channels, etc., have their own apps. Installation on your device is part of the download process.
- The cameras, and the gallery of pictures, are also activated by apps. If you want to put pictures on Instagram, a popular photo site, you have to download the app for that.
- Holding down the button just beneath the screen, lightly for a few seconds, brings up the list of apps that are currently running. Tap “Close All’ to immediately reduce clutter.
Do note that this barely scratches the subject of apps – in general, there are many more apps for an Android device than there are for a PC. Specific apps as appropriate will be discussed in further chapters of this topic.