Different types of apps app developers need to know

Different Types Of Apps That App Developers Need To Know About

Thanks to the increasing affordability of smartphones across the world, the app industry has absolutely exploded in the last 3 years.

This has lead to the development of many different types of apps.

There are currently 24 app categories on the iOS App Store, as well as subcategories with the introduction of iOS 8. Google Play has 20 app categories.

This might sound a bit overwhelming, but really they all fit quite neatly into 7 different types of apps.

Those types of apps are:

  1. Utilities
  2. Entertainment
  3. Games
  4. News
  5. Productivity
  6. Lifestyle
  7. Social Networking

Each of these app types are quite different and require a different style of programming from the other.

As an app developer, you need to know what the difference is and what may be required of you.

For example, some apps utilise off-app storage (web-service/database) to store and pull data from.

Others require a completely different development software to run.

Furthermore, other types of apps may require the app developer to use a 3D modelling software to complete the application.

Let me explain what the types of apps are and what makes them different, then I’ll give you some examples of apps within that type that you may have used before.

1. Utilities apps

utilities app

Utility apps are likely the kinds of apps that are taking up the most room on your screens right now!

These are handy tools that you carry with you that help you perform simple tasks.

Examples of utility apps are:

  • Calculators
  • Note-pads
  • Communication apps
  • Weather apps

Utility apps are typically used frequently (4-5 times a week) but have shorter session times.

This is because the user doesn’t want to spend time playing around in the app – they came to solve a problem quickly so they are in an out in a matter of seconds.

Therefore, the goal for most developers of utility apps is how to increase frequency of use.

2. Entertainment apps

Dubsmash Application

These apps are designed to… yes that’s right, entertain.

Examples of entertainment apps are:

Entertainment apps are distinguished from games apps because they often have quite different goals, even though both of them seek to entertain the user.

Entertainment apps are often educational, and seek to ‘gamify’ an already existing process or activity.

You can learn more about how to profitably gamify your app in this crash course.

3. Games apps

games apps

Now, I think we are all pretty up to date with these ones.

Game apps have been a favourite among app developers for years.

Examples of games apps are:

  • Angry Birds
  • Sudoku
  • Trivia Crack

Games apps are still a hugely popular subset of app development today. In 2016, we’re seeing technology like virtual reality and smart tv’s start to change what game apps look like.

This will only make them more sophisticated (and addictive! Dammit…).

4. News apps

News app - Flipboard

Having a news app has become a necessity for media and publishing companies to stay relevant in the ‘digital age of journalism‘.

The most important feature of a news app are the sharing functions.

These apps spread virally through providing fresh, relevant content to a mass audience.

Examples of news apps are:

  • The NYT app
  • Buzzfeed
  • Flipboard

Essentially, the goal of any publishing app is to encourage greater content consumption, so that the publisher can generate more revenue from advertisers.

Native advertising and sponsored content are the main ways these types of apps make money!

5. Productivity apps

productivity apps dropbox

Productivity apps are developed to help us be more productive.

Examples of productivity apps are:

  • Finance apps
  • Calendars
  • Translators
  • Grocery list makers


A seamless user experience is crucial for productivity apps.

Any functionality that is clunky or confusing only adds to the user’s workload. Your aim is to make them MORE productive, not less!

See also: 8 Enterprise Productivity Tools Saving Businesses Millions Each Year

6. Lifestyle apps

Lifestyle app tinder

Lifestyle apps are where we’ve seen the biggest uptick in development.

It comes as no surprise that we want to use apps to solve everyday problems we have in our lives.

We use these apps to enhance our lifestyles and to make everyday living ‘easier’.

Examples of lifestyle apps are:

  • Fitness apps
  • Travel Apps
  • Food & Drink apps
  • Dating apps
  • Music apps like Spotify and Apple Music

Lifestyle apps tend to complement other products and services very well. It’s for this reason that sponsered advertising partnerships are incredibly successful in lifestyle apps.

For example, RunKeeper offers its exercise fanatics exclusive deals on Nike products. They then take a cut of the sales attributed to this ad.

7. Social networking apps

social networking app

Nearly all of us use social networking apps.

Social media is so pervasive in our society that we are now seeing apps that wouldn’t traditionally be considered a social network add social as a core part of their product.

For example, FitBit is a fitness app with the added in-app functionality of following your friends and engaging in competitions with and against them.

Examples of social networking apps are:

  • Facebook
  • Circles
  • Path
  • Instagram

Whatever the type of app is, as a mobile app developer, you need to understand that the purpose of an app is to make people’s lives easier.

If you’re not sure if your app does this, read our crash course on app idea validation to give you some clarity.

The more people you can affect, and the more you can lives you can improve, the richer you will get. Simple as that!

Which app type does your app fall into? 

Where to go next

The Startup Guide To App Development

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Logan Merrick is the co-founder and Director of Buzinga, as well as one of Australia's most recognised entrepreneurs, keynote speakers, investors and mentors. His writing on startups, technology and mobile marketing has been featured in The Australian, Business Insider, Startup Smart, Smart Company, and more.
  • As Mobile App Developer, most of the developers are already aware of the categories in which their developed apps fall into.

  • Nice information Logan, Good job

  • Denialhogg

    These are some major app categories showing in this post but there is not more discussion about the iPhone App Development…..

  • John Murphy

    This article will help all people looking to gather info about various apps. I found it very interesting. Apps have made life a lot easier for people. People can now do their work using mobile devices. Things like shopping, banking transactions, event management can be done using various types of apps.