Difference Between Apps and Widgets

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Apps and Widgets

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You may be familiar with the term app – it's all over the news, primarily when referring to recent tech acquisitions by big companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. But what exactly are apps? Are they the same thing as widgets? Is there a difference between an app and a widget?

Apps vs. Widgets

You're not alone if you're unsure what the difference is between an app and a widget. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Here's a quick rundown of the significant differences between apps and widgets:

  • Apps usually have their screens where they provide additional functionality to your phone while widgets live on your home screen
  • Widgets can only be accessed by tapping on them, while apps must be opened through their icon to access their functionality
  • Apps can provide notifications or updates without opening them, like Facebook's Messenger, which will tell you if someone has messaged you
  • Android phones do not use widgets as much as iPhones because of Android's more open system for customization. They still exist, though! On the other hand, iOS limits how people can customize their home screen so that most users only utilize one or two widgets.
  • When deciding whether to download an app or Widget, consider how often you plan on using it and how long it would take to find it on your phone. If it needs frequent attention, like messaging apps, get the corresponding app instead of a widget.

Difference Between Apps and Widgets in Tabular Form

Parameters of


Apps Widgets
Define Apps are pieces of software that you can download and install on your phone or computer. A widget is a small, stand-alone application that performs a specific function or displays a particular piece of information.
Use Should be opened by the user Run continuously
Installing/ Downloaded process Should be downloaded and installed before using Pre- installed and come with the device.
Hibernate Hibernate when the session terminates. Self-running applications, do not hibernate

What are Apps?

Apps are pieces of software that you can download and install on your phone or computer. They're usually designed to perform a specific task, such as playing a game, checking the Weather, or managing your finances. Many apps require an internet connection to work correctly. You may also need permission from the app's developer to download it, depending on what type of device you're using. Android phones and iPhones allow users to install third-party apps not developed by Google or Apple, but some security risks are involved with downloading apps from outside sources. To avoid these risks, many people only use apps from trusted developers and never download apps without thoroughly researching them. What are Widgets: A widget is just a tiny piece of software that runs on your desktop or mobile device. For example, widgets can show information like the date, time, current weather conditions, and battery life at any given moment on your desktop screen while you're working.

How do Apps Work

Apps are tiny programs that run on your phone. They're designed to do one thing, and they do it well. For example, there's an app that tells you the Weather, another that lets you check your email, and another that helps you find a nearby restaurant. What's a widget: A widget is an app-like program that runs in the background of your phone. They can be placed on any screen of your phone and provide info such as battery life or time left until you need to leave for work. Widgets look like buttons when they're open, but if you don't touch them after a few seconds, they'll go back to being like any other part of your home screen. Unlike apps, widgets always run in the background, updating quickly with new information. You might have a stock market widget on your home screen that keeps track of how much your stocks have gone up (or down) over the past day.

Functions of Apps

Most apps are designed to perform one or more specific tasks. For example, the Facebook app allows users to check their news feeds, send messages, and view upcoming events. Some apps are designed for entertainment, such as games, while others are intended to be used for productivity, such as a task manager or notes app. There are even apps that serve no purpose but to provide some form of convenience, like an alarm clock or a calculator. At their most basic level, widgets do not function in this way. They cannot run independently and require being placed on the home screen (usually in a folder) to perform any actions. For instance, once they're added to your home screen, they can show you how many steps you've taken today or your latest notification. However, widgets also have limitations when it comes to customization; they usually only come in two different sizes: large and small. App developers offer more customizations by adjusting things like button layouts and design elements so that each user can tailor their app experience to fit exactly what they want it to look like.

Benefits of Apps

While apps and widgets both serve different purposes, apps have some benefits over widgets. For one, apps tend to be more complex than widgets, offering more features and functionality. Additionally, apps are designed specifically for a particular platform or operating system, whereas widgets can often be used across multiple platforms. This means that apps can take advantage of specific features of a platform that may not be available to devices. Finally, apps are typically updated more frequently than widgets, ensuring that users always have the latest version with the newest features.

Purpose of Apps

Apps are pieces of software that you can download and install on your phone or tablet. They're designed to perform specific tasks, such as playing games, checking the Weather, or managing your finances. The Android operating system is the most popular mobile operating system in the world, so many more apps are available for it than for iOS. You can buy apps from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store for a fee, depending on what app type (there are also free apps). Purpose of Widgets: These little programs usually come pre-installed with a more extensive app called an operating system and reside on your home screen. The goal of widgets is to provide users with quick access to information like stocks or contacts. It's often easy to get started before thoroughly learning how an app works. One downside about widgets is that they take up screen space which means you have less room for other things like pictures and contacts.

What are Widgets?

A widget is a small, stand-alone application that performs a specific function or displays a particular piece of information. It can be either a graphical control element in a graphical user interface or a non-GUI element such as a clock, calculator, or weather forecaster.

Widgets are typically built using the same technology as the platform they run on, such as HTML for web widgets or XML for Android widgets. This allows them to be easily integrated into the host platform and makes them relatively platform-independent. Some examples of widgets are calculators, clocks, calendars, music players, game controllers, and maps.

A widget may sometimes provide a specialized GUI layout or display custom data; this functionality has been used to create dynamic photo albums from sources like Flickr, for example. Widgets often take up less screen space than applications and have no title bar at the top (such as on Mac OS X).

How do Widgets Work

When you install a new widget, it will appear on your home screen. You can interact with it by tapping or swiping; some widgets will even let you input information. Most widgets, like the Weather or your calendar, display data that changes over time. Some widgets are interactive, like a music player or a game. Others, like calculators or social media apps, only need to be tapped once to work. There is no limit to how many widgets you can simultaneously have on your home screen—they just take up space. Buttons near the bottom of the page allow you to reorder them, so they're in order of what you use most often.

Functions of Widgets

Widgets are small, self-contained applications that perform one or two simple functions. The most common widget type is a weather forecast widget, which shows you your location's current temperature and forecast. Other popular widgets include clocks, calculators, news tickers, and social media updates. Unlike apps, widgets can be placed on the home screen of an Android device, so they're easily accessible from any screen. However, because they take up less space than apps, they often lack features in full-fledged apps, such as live chat features and sophisticated games.

There are some drawbacks to using widgets: you can't update them without uninstalling them; they don't run in the background; there's no way to set up a reminder alarm from within a widget, and there may be latency when launching it from outside an app.

Benefits of Widgets

Widgets are a great way to make your Android phone more personal and efficient. They can display information from your favorite apps, such as the Weather, stock prices, or your calendar. You can also use widgets to launch apps or perform everyday tasks quickly. Plus, widgets are highly customizable, so you can choose how much information they display and where they're located on your home screen. And widgets don't take up any of your device storage space, unlike apps that download data when installed. Some drawbacks: Though it may seem like an easy fix, moving around widgets is cumbersome because of their fixed size. And some people worry about security risks since the content within Widget is open to anyone with access to the phone; however, this risk is mitigated by good password practices and making sure no sensitive data is contained in the Widget's text messages or pictures

Purpose of Widgets

Widgets are small, simple programs that run on your home screen. They don't take up much space and are easy to use. You can use them to check the Weather, see how many steps you've taken, or control your music. For example, if you have an Apple device with iOS 7 installed, tap the Settings icon in your Dock to open it. Tap General and then scroll down until you find Widget. If a widget is installed, such as Weather, you'll be able to toggle its visibility (by tapping Show Weather or Hide Weather). If not, tap Add Widget and search for one of the available widgets from the list. When done, press Done on your keyboard or click outside of the widget window to save it. When you go back into your settings menu, you'll see a new row of widgets at the bottom of this window; tap any of these icons and start customizing!

Main Differences Between Apps and Widgets in Points

  • Apps are designed to perform specific tasks, while widgets provide information at a glance.
  • Apps are usually installed from an app store, while widgets come pre-installed on most Android devices.
  • Apps are generally more complex than widgets and require more time and effort to use.
  • Widgets can be added to the home screen for quick access, while apps must be opened from the app drawer.
  • Widgets are often interactive, while apps are primarily static.
  • Widgets can be customized in size, shape, and appearance, while apps cannot be customized as easily.
  • Since they don't have their own storage space, widgets can't hold large amounts of data like apps do.
  • The user interface (UI) is much difference between apps and widgets, with one being more visual than the other (see below).


In a nutshell, apps are programs you can download and install on your phone, while widgets are little tools that run on your home screen. Both can be extremely useful, but it's essential to know the difference to decide which is right for you. If you're looking for a way to personalize your phone without putting in any effort or changing anything about the software, then a widget might be perfect for you. They can quickly provide updates on news stories or weather changes without needing much of an introduction! On the other hand, if you're looking for something more substantial, an app may work better because it offers games and messaging options. It all depends on what you need from your phone - give both options some thought before deciding!

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"Difference Between Apps and Widgets." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 26 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-apps-and-widgets-907>.

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