Types of Application Software: Guide for 2022

Application software has become our everyday companions, knowingly or unknowingly. Today, various application software types are available to suit every need and purpose. Picking the right application software for your personal use or business can significantly impact you. It not just improves operations and efficiency but can also significantly impact your bottom line.
With a wide array of choices in application software, we‘ve broadly classified application software into- General Applications, Business Applications, and Custom Developed Applications. Here is the list of different types of application software available in the market.

General Applications

  • Word Processing Software
  • Graphics Software
  • Spreadsheet Software
  • Presentation Software
  • Web Browsers
  • Multimedia Software
  • Education and Reference Software
  • Simulation Software
  • Content Access Software
  • Information Worker Software

Business Applications

  • Customer Relationship Management Application Software
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Application Software
  • Project Management Application Software
  • Business Process Management Application Software
  • Database
  • Resource Management Application Software
  • Productivity Software
  • Time Management Application Software
  • Educational Software

Application Based on Shareability

  • Freeware
  • Shareware
  • Open source
  • Closed source
Deep dive into everything you need to know about application software and choosing the right type of application software for your business.

What is Application Software?

Application software is a computer program that performs a specific function, be it educational, personal, or business. It is also known as an end-user program or a productivity program. Each application is designed to assist users with a particular task that may be related to creativity, productivity, or communication. Application software programs are specific in their functionality and perform the job they are designed to do. The primary goal of every application software is to simplify an operation and help users get their tasks done effortlessly.
Today, we have a plethora of high-end application software at our disposal that defines how we live our lives and accommodate our ever-evolving requirements. Widely used application software includes office productivity suites, data management software, media players, and security programs. The common apps we see on our smartphones are also examples.

Examples of Application Software

Be it completing your tasks, jotting down notes, completing your online research, setting the alarm, keeping an account log, or even playing games; there are explicit application software programs that can help you out. Application software programs are designed to perform specific tasks, simplify workflows, and improve team communication. The most common examples of applications used by millions daily are listed below.
  • A suite of Microsoft products such as MS Office, PowerPoint, MS Word, Excel, and Outlook.
  • Internet browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.
  • Graphics and design software such as Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, and AutoCAD.
  • Real-time online communication tools like Skype, Hangouts, Google Meet, Zoom, and Whatsapp.
  • Multimedia and music streaming software such as MX Player, VLC Media Player, Spotify, Pandora, etc.
  • Project management software like Asana, Zoho, Slack, Forecast, etc

Things to Look For In An Application Software

With numerous application software available in the market, some come pre-built, with features you can customize. However, sometimes you’ll have the chance to build a new application with your desirable features. Unfortunately, the reality is that no application software is the same. Many are subpar at best, and some completely inept at worst. Therefore, you must ensure that the application software meets all your requirements and is helpful.
Now, the question is how to judge a good application software. Here are six fundamental characteristics that a good application must satisfy.
All six qualities are important, but nothing else matters if you get the user experience wrong. The UX is the face of an application that interacts with the user and gives the look and feel of the application software.

Functions of Application Software

Application software programs are designed to execute a large variety of functions. The functions can vary depending on the users’ requirements. Irrespective of the industry or business domain, application software can be built to serve a specified purpose. Here are a couple of examples.
  • Data analysis and information management
  • Document manager
  • Emails, text messaging, audio and video conferencing
  • Graphics, animations, and video development
  • Accounting, payroll, and finance management
  • Project management
  • Resource (ERP and CRM system) and HR management
  • Software for healthcare management
  • Business project management
  • LMS and eLearning software

What is the difference between System Software and Application Software?

Software is basically a set of instructions or programs to carry out a task. They can be classified into two types- System Software and Application Software. Both are software programs designed to instruct and interact with the system or user to perform specific tasks. However, both the software have considerable differences in terms of their design and purpose. Let’s delve into their key differences.

System Software

  • System software is designed to control and manage the hardware and other resources of the system.
  • System software is pre-installed with the operating system.
  • System software is commonly referred to as general-purpose software.
  • It acts as an interface between application software and the system.
  • Developed in low-level language or machine code that is more compatible with the system hardware.
  • System software can run independently.
  • Programming of system software is complex.
  • It acts as a platform and runs in the background.
  • Performs primary functions of process management, memory management, task scheduling, hardware installation, etc.
  • Users don’t interact with system software.
  • System software is mandatory for a system to function.
  • Examples: compiler, assembler, debugger, driver, etc

Application Software

  • Application software is designed to accomplish tasks for a specific purpose based on user requests.
  • Application software is third-party software that can be downloaded and installed according to user needs.
  • Application software is commonly referred to as specific-purpose software.
  • Hosted on the platform, which is provided by the system software.
  • Programmed in high-level languages, such as C++, Python, or Javascript.
  • Application software cannot run independently and need the presence of system software.
  • Programming of applications is comparatively simpler.
  • Runs in the foreground and performs a task based on user requests.
  • Performs user-specific tasks for which it is designed.
  • User interacts with the application software.
  • Application software is not mandatory and the system can function without it.
  • Examples: word processor, web browser, media player, photoshop, etc.

Know the Terminology Differences

App vs Application

App: An app is a software that is built for a single purpose and performs a sole function for users. It is specifically designed to run on mobiles and tablets. They can also run on desktops, provided the OS supports those apps. Some popular examples of apps are Open Office, photo-shop, browsers, WhatsApp, Angry Birds, etc.
Application: An application is a software primarily intended to perform a variety of functions for users. It offers services in areas like automation, data processing, and integration. Applications are designed to run only on desktops or laptops but not on mobiles and tablets. They are likely to be larger packages with multiple functions. Some examples include Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, VLC Player, etc.

On-premise Application Software vs Hosted Application Software

On-premise: On-premise was the traditional method businesses used software. With on-premise software, you purchase the software and license, install it on your own server, and maintain it yourself. You need to own your servers internally and complete all the back-ups and upgrades to the software. On-premise software provides increased security since you have total control over the updates and software changes.
Hosted: The hosted solution is similar to the on-premise. You purchase the software, license and maintain it yourself, but install it on a third-party’s server. Rather than buying your own infrastructure or hardware, you rent it from a vendor. Though remotely hosted, you still own the software you purchased. Hosted has the benefit of low upfront costs and can scale resources on demand.

Application Software vs Application Platform

Application Software: An application software help users perform specific tasks. It runs locally on a server or computer system. They can be complex database systems or simple programs like word processors.
Application Platform: A platform is a foundation on which an application runs. It includes a hardware architecture and a software framework for the application software to function.

System Software vs Application Software

System Software: System software administers the system resources and acts as a platform for running the application software. It is an interface between the application software and the system.
Application Software: Application software is designed to perform a specific set of tasks or functions as per users’ requests for which they have been designed. Application software cannot function independently and can run only with the support of system software.

Types of Applications Software

As the world is an era of digitalization, every sphere of business requires application software. The use of the software is rampant across every domain, including banking, healthcare, education, retail, travel, logistics, etc. Picking up the right application software for your specific needs improves function and efficiency. Understanding the different types of application software will help you save cost, time, and resources, enhance productivity, and improve decision-making. Application software can be broadly classified into General Applications, Business Applications, and Custom Developed Applications.

Word Processing Software

G-Doc and MS Word, Notepad

Project Management Software

Trello, Airtable

Graphics Software

Adobe Photoshop, Paintshop

Business Process Management

Zoho creator, Nintex

Spreadsheet Software

Excel, Google Sheets


Oracle, MongoDB

Presentation Software


Resource Management Software

Mavenlink, Forecast

Web Browsers

Firefox, Chrome

Productivity Software

Spreadsheets, PowerPoint

Multimedia Software

VLC Media Player, MX Player

Time Management Software

Asana, ClickTime

Educational Software

Teams, Google Classroom

Freeware Software

Adobe PDF, Mozilla Firefox

Simulation Software

PCB Softwares

Shareware Software

WinZip, Adobe Acrobat.

CRM Application Software

Salesforce, Netsuite

Open Source Software

Open Office, MySQL

ERP Application Software

Odoo, Oracle

Closed Source Software

Skype, Adobe Reader

General Application Software

General application software is designed to perform a wide range of fundamental functions that a user needs to perform on a system. There are numerous applications that fall under this category. Some of the commonly used application software include:

  • Word Processing Software
  • Graphics Software
  • Spreadsheet Software
  • Presentation Software
  • Web Browsers
  • Multimedia Software
  • Education and Reference Software
  • Simulation Software
  • Content Access Software
  • Information Worker Software

Here's an attempt to elucidate a few application software from this list.

Word processing application software is used to format and manipulate text, thus, creating memos, letters, faxes, and documents. Word processing software is also used to format and beautify the text. It provides many features, including thesaurus, synonyms, and antonyms. Along with Word Art features, the font option changes the font color, effect, and style per your choice. Grammar and spell-check options are also available to check for grammatical errors. Popular examples include G Doc and Microsoft Word Doc.
Graphics application software is used to edit or make changes in visual data or images. It comprises illustration and picture editor software. Adobe Photoshop and PaintShop Pro are a few examples of graphics software.
Spreadsheet application software is majorly used to perform calculations—this software stores data in a tabular format in rows and columns. The intersecting cells are separated to define text, date, time, and number fields. It allows the users to perform various calculations and functions using different formulae. Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are examples of spreadsheet software.
Presentation software enables you to put forth your thoughts and ideas quickly and clearly in a piece of visual information. Then, it lets you display the information in the form of slides. Adding text, images, graphs, and videos can make your slide more informative and engrossing. Microsoft PowerPoint is a good example of presentation software.
Web browsers are application software used to browse the Internet for locating and retrieving data across the web. Browser software lets you watch videos, download images, search for information, and read files. The most popular web browsers are Google Chrome and Firefox. Other examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, MS Edge, Safari, etc.
Multimedia application software lets you create or record images and create audio or video files. This software is extensively used in animation, graphics, image, and video editing. In addition, they can enhance the visual and auditory features of the already present audio or video file. VLC media player, MX Player, and Windows media player are some popular examples.
This application software is also called academic software as they are specifically designed to facilitate learning a particular subject. This kind of software is beneficial in the education industry. There are various kinds of tutorial software too available in this category. Google Earth and NASA World Wind are a few examples of education software.
Simulation software is a kind of application software used in military engineering, machinery testing, industrial training, robotics, flight systems, weather forecast, video games, etc. It replicates life-like conditions when the actual system or physical environment can be hazardous or inaccurate. It is a program that lets you study or observe an operation or phenomenon through simulation without actually doing that operation. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies are also used to develop application software that supports simulations. MATLAB is the finest example of simulation software.

Business Application Software

Business application software is a type of application software designed to fulfill specific business functions and operations. These applications are presumed to improve the accuracy and efficiency of operations, along with boosting the productivity and profitability of a business. Some of the application software commonly used by businesses are:

Custom Developed Application Software

A custom-developed application software (bespoke or tailor-made software) is solely built for some specific organization or user based on their business requirements. Custom software development in the web and mobile application industry has taken center stage – primarily for its flexibility and productivity. It can perform your desired functionality and be designed and developed entirely based on user or organizational needs. While pre-built applications are suitable for limited functionality, custom software applications ensure the organization gets everything they want within an application. Therefore, custom software development is a wise solution for organizations planning for a positive long-term business.

Custom Developed Application Software

Application software can also be classified based on its shareability and availability.
Some such categories are

As the very name indicates, it is available free of cost. Users can download freeware application software from the Internet and use it without any charge. However, this software cannot be edited or personalized to one's needs. Adobe PDF, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome are good examples of this application software.


This software is distributed freely to the users on a trial basis, usually with a limited-time offer. After that, the users are expected to pay if they want to continue to use this application software. Some examples of shareware are WinZip, SnapTouch, and Adobe Acrobat.

Open source

This application software is available on the Internet for free, along with the source code. It allows users to modify the software, easily remove errors, and even add features to the software. Open-source software is available in free and paid versions. Few examples of open-source application software are Moodle and Apache Web Server.

Closed source

Majority of application software packages that we use belong to this category. These are usually chargeable and have intellectual property rights or patents over the source code. It usually comes with restricted use. Examples include Microsoft Windows, Adobe Flash Player, WinRAR, mac OS, etc.

Benefits of Application Software

Most organizations are investing in buying or building application software to suit their business model. This software comes with innumerable benefits that you can’t resist executing the ideal application software in your business/organization.

How to Choose The Right Application Software that Fits Your Business

As your business grows, there’s always an impulse to improve operations and get work done smarter. Whether it is to replace an old system or discover a new solution to modernize your inefficient performance, the hunt for the perfect application software is no cakewalk.
Picking the right application software for business involves wise decisions, brainstorming sessions, and critical thinking. Before investing in a software application, you must ensure that it aligns with your business operations, streamlines your processes, improves customer experience, and eliminates risk. The success of your business model, its anticipated goals, and its requirements depend on choosing the right application software. Selecting the right application software can be overwhelming, but the right one can become a real game-changer for your business!
Here’s a checklist to help you be confident in choosing the right application software for your business.

Cost of Developing an Application Software for Your Business

Pricing is a crucial factor for anyone looking to develop an application for their business. The cost of developing an application software varies depending on the various features listed below.
As many factors collectively influence application software development, it is difficult to quote a precise figure. However, depending on your requirements, our experts can get back to you with a ballpark estimate for your application software.

Custom Application Software: Ideal For Business With Specific Requirements

Businesses, big or small, rely on custom application software to fulfill their very specific business requirements. To obtain a competitive advantage in your business landscape, you need technically advanced custom application software that can soar your business to heights.
Custom application software is designed and built for an organization’s specific group of users. These are not complete software package suites that can be used for any business. Instead, these are personalized and customized to the goals and requirements of an organization and restricted to limited users. Custom software is built to accommodate all the specific business preferences and needs. Another perk of a custom application software is its flexibility, ease of integration, and scalability.

The Future of Application Software

As technology evolves more and more, application software is slowly finding its way to intrude into all aspects of our lives virtually. Whether it is a brand new app that can be downloaded on your mobile phone or a new way to make vehicles less dependent on a driver, application development is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. But as we look into the future, there are numerous questions about how application software will impact our personal and professional lives. Here's a quick rundown of what many experts believe the future holds for application software.

Artificial intelligence

Companies will rely on developing application software that will allow artificial intelligence to analyze massive amounts of data simultaneously to help them in decision-making that would otherwise prove impossible.

Artificial Intelligence services will drive the smart reinvention of your business workflows, processes, and technology

Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed reality (MR) is a blend of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and has significant potential in today's enterprise applications. Organizations in various sectors like defense, retail, tourism, architecture, construction, gaming, healthcare, etc., are developing application software to propel their crucial business value.

Mixed Reality solutions empower you to create vivid and accurate reflections on real-world environments that enable improved work collaboration

Autonomous Cars

One area where the application software is projected to make a substantial impact within the next decade is autonomous cars. With the manufacturing industry investing more and more into technology, it is likely to lead to the production of autonomous vehicles, which will bring out many innovations in application software. It is not too distant future that Google and Apple will bring out their autonomous vehicle applications.


As technology trends continue to develop faster than most of us can keep up with, the Internet of Things (IoT) could make far-reaching impacts on our world. Devices on these networks use application software to exchange data over the Internet.

Cashless Society

Another area where the application software is expected to play a significant role is, moving towards a completely cashless society. As consumers move to a more digital world, all financial transactions are done electronically, paving the way for banking and insurance companies to develop application software to support more digital transactions.

Cloud Gaming

With the growing popularity of cloud gaming, many organizations are turning to cloud-native apps to provide richer playing experiences and provide tangible benefits for both player and provider.

Develop Your Application Software With FIngent

As online transactions soar and digital workplaces emerge, different types of application software will continue to evolve. As a result, the demand for custom software development tailored to the requirements of a business is increasing now more than ever before. From simple customizations to full-cycle software development, Fingent can help address all your specific business requirements, leveraging our application software development capabilities.

Explore our range of services.


Years of Experience


Centers of Excellence (CoE)


Completed Projects

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Qualified Professionals

Dedicated QA Practices

If you have further questions or want to start choosing and implementing the right application software for your business, contact us immediately, and we will help you get there.