The word “app” is an abbreviation for the term “application”, or, in the more narrow sense, “mobile application”. Apps are a type of software which perform a specific function and can be downloaded onto a smartphone or other mobile device, for example a tablet PC. An app is not necessary for the functioning of the mobile device itself. However, it extends the functionality of the device. Apps enable the mobile device to, for example, record health parameters such as heartbeat, pulse, sleep patterns and give the user of the mobile device advice on a healthy lifestyle or feedback on processed data.
Apps with a medical purpose are used for the diagnosis or therapy-accompanying cure of diseases. Depending on the field of application, they are intended to simplify the diagnosis for the doctor, promote the self-empowerment of patients for disease management or are used in communication between doctor and patient to enable constant monitoring over spatial distances. In Germany, there are also apps called “Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen” that can be approved as medical devices since the end of 2019 if they have gone through the approval procedure according to medical device law. They carry a CE mark and can be prescribed by doctors in a similar way to medicines.
In contrast to apps that are used for medical purposes, lifestyle apps promote a healthy lifestyle with a focus on fitness, nutrition and wellness. They are primarily aimed at healthy users who have an interest in health issues and their body and want to use an app to support a healthier lifestyle.