Very basic questions about apps

I’ll admit right at the start I know practically nothing about apps. I’m aware they exist and you can buy them for your phone.

My phone, however, is very old school. All it does is make phone calls. So that’s not an option for me.

So my main question is can you use an app on a regular computer? Or do they only function on phones?

Assuming I can use apps on my computer, I’d welcome general advice from people who know the subject. I know you can buy apps on Amazon; do they just download like a Kindle book? Do they set themselves up automatically? Do I need some kind of app driver? Is the app stored on my hard drive or do I need to be online to use it?

I don’t need recommendations for specific apps; I’m looking into this because I’d like to play some of my favorite board games on my computer so I already know what I’m interested in. I just want to know if it’s possible and how to do it.

An “app” is short of application, as in a computer program. Computer programs are written for specific operating systems and devices. A tablet, a mobile phone, a computer workstation. If a computer program is written specifically for the iPhone, it won’t run on the Macintosh computer or a Windows computer. The computer program would need to be written to run on that specific platform.

So if you purchased an “app” for the iPhone, you can’t use it on anything else other than an iPhone because it isn’t designed for anything else.

Speaking of the iPhone, it runs the same operating system from Apple that the iPad does. So if you like an “app” for the iPhone, it likely is available to run it on the iPad.

Hope this helps!

There are some apps that are available on multiple platforms. For example, I have netflix and hulu apps on my tablet and on our PC that functions as a TV of sorts in our living room. The tablet is android and the PC is running windows.

Note that it’s not the same apps running on both machines. The folks who made the apps intentionally made different versions for different platforms.

I’ve never downloaded apps from amazon, but apps from the windows store install basically just by clicking on them. Same for android and iphone/ipad. You just go to the device’s app store and download. If you want to practice on a PC, microsoft intentionally did not install games like freecell on windows 10. Instead, they are a free download from the windows store, just to get you used to going there and downloading apps (and microsoft hopes you’ll pay them lots of money by repeatedly going there and getting apps that cost money).

If it helps, there is some work being done to be able to install android apps on chromebooks, and there are android emulators for PCs, although these are more “dev tools” than anything else. Many of them seem to interface with the app store like a real phone would.

If one of the board games you like to play is chess, there is a website to do it, but it is not free unless you log in as a guest all the time. It’s called ICC or Blitz and you have a lot of options as to the time limits. Once there were many such websites, but I would not trust any of the free ones. Free Chess is another one, but I did not trust that one not to put malware on my computer.

So a PC doesn’t work as an emulator for a phone. Okay, that’s one avenue shut down for me.

It can be done by running an Android virtual machine on a PC, but I think that will be too technical for you.

If you tell us which games you’re interested in, and whether you use a Windows or a Mac computer, perhaps we can give some suggestions.

No, I can find public domain games all over the place. I was looking for specific games like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Kingdom Builder, Splendor, and Suburbia. They’re games I enjoy playing in their tabletop versions and I was hoping to be able to play them on my computer as well. But these are all Android apps and apparently I’m out of luck.

PC running Windows 8.

In addition to the apps you can install on your computer, many popular board games are able to be played in browser without actually installing them on your machine.

For games that are only available on Android, you can run them on your Windows PC with one of these applications. Several of them, like KoPlayer or Nox, are specifically meant for playing Android games.

You can get an android tablet capable of running most games on the play store for under $100. So that’s an option if you’re interested.
The other thing you can do is: check the minimum requirements on the google play store of the apps you are interested in.
Buy a cheap android phone with no cell service (an unlocked phone with no monthly payment.)
Use the Wifi on your phone to get your games and play them.
Basically, you treat your phone as a pocket sized mini-tablet.
Those two options require spending a little bit, unless you have a friend who’s replaced their phone recently and can give you an old one. (I have several old phones and tablets - lots of people do).
If you’re not used to Android phones/tablets I thought you might not have realized that you don’t have to get a phone plan/data plan to use one as a tablet. Just in order to use it as a phone.

I really have no interest in having another device for this purpose. If I wanted I could download some of these apps on my Kindle. But I specifically want them on my computer.

This sounds like something I’ll be checking into.

Note that depending on the app, using emulators might be against the developer’s TOS and your account could potentially be “banned” (locked out of the app) if they can detect that you’re using one. (In the case of games, this is usually an anti-cheating measure; for other apps it may be about copyright protection.)

I play at least one game which is very good at detecting emulators and bans people very fast for that (they have a big cheating problem).

I think that brings me back to another one of my questions. When I buy an app does it exist solely on my computer? Or is a form of access to a program that’s somewhere else?

More specifically, can I use an app when I’m not online?

It could be either. It depends on the way the application is designed. I have Microsoft Office 2010 on my computers (Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) and they will work just fine if the rest of the world gets destroyed and I can rig up some electricity somehow. However, MS Office 365 is the cloud version and you will be SOL at least after a while if you can’t connect it to the internet because it is designed to almost always be connected.

What you are really referring to is local apps versus cloud computing. The former used to be the most common by far until a few years ago when cloud computing really started to take off. However, the difference is not strictly binary. Many applications will work for a limited time in local mode but also need regular internet access to get updates and maintain their license. However, more applications are becoming strictly cloud dependent and will not work at all without an internet connection.

That would definitely be a minus for me. I take my laptop with me when I’m traveling and I’ve often encountered areas where I have no wifi access. For that matter, I often visit areas where I have no cell phone access.