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Application vs. Operation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
An application is the act of putting something into use; an operation is the process of functioning or being active.

Key Differences

Application often involves the act of applying or utilizing something for a particular purpose. It can be the implementation of a tool, concept, or method in a practical situation. Operation, however, refers to the manner in which something functions or is controlled. It's the execution of activities within a system or process.
In technology, an application, or app, is software designed to carry out a specific task for the user. In contrast, the operation of a device involves the technical processes that allow the software to run. Operation is the broader term that encompasses all the functions and activities of the device, not just the software's use.
The application is about putting theory into practice, such as applying knowledge to solve a problem. Operation is concerned with the mechanics of how something works, like the operation of an engine. Application is the execution of ideas, while operation is the ongoing process of something working.
When one fills out an application form, they are requesting to be considered for something, like a job or membership. Here, 'application' implies a formal request or submission. Operation, in a similar context, could refer to the activities or actions of the organization one is applying to join.
In medicine, application can refer to the way in which treatments are administered to patients. This could include the application of a bandage. An operation in medicine usually means a surgical procedure, which is an organized series of actions performed to achieve a specific medical result.

Comparison Chart


Use of something for a purpose
The process or state of functioning


Can mean a formal request or submission
Refers to the execution of activities

In Technology

Software for specific tasks (apps)
The functioning of devices or systems

In Medicine

Method of administering treatments
A surgical procedure or medical activity


Generally a specific act of use or request
An ongoing series of functions or activities

Application and Operation Definitions


A formal request.
She submitted her application to the university.


A business or organization activity.
The operation of the company requires skilled management.


The act of putting something to use.
The application of the theory to real-world scenarios is crucial.


The state of functioning or being active.
The new plant has been in operation since June.


Diligent attention; effort.
Consistent application to one's studies yields great results.


A surgical procedure.
The patient is recovering from a successful operation.


The act of applying as a means to bring something into contact with something else.
The nurse was careful with the application of the bandage.


Military or tactical actions.
The special forces conducted a covert operation at dawn.


Software for a computer or mobile device.
I downloaded a new application for photo editing.


The process of working or controlling something.
Understanding the operation of the new software takes time.


The act of applying.


The act or process of operating or functioning.


Something applied, such as a cosmetic or curative agent.


The state of being operative or functional
A factory in operation.


The act of putting something to a special use or purpose
An application of a new method.


Is an application always digital?

No, it can also be a physical document or form.

Can operation refer to a business?

Yes, it can describe the activities that a business performs.

What does application mean in a job search?

It refers to the submission of one's resume or form to apply for a position.

What is an operational plan?

A detailed outline of how an organization's activities will be executed.

Does operation imply movement or activity?

Yes, it often involves active processes or functions.

What is an operation manager?

Someone who oversees the production and business operations.

Can application mean relevance?

Yes, in terms of something being applicable or relevant to a situation.

Is every software an application?

Most user-oriented software is considered an application.

Are application fees refundable?

It varies depending on the organization's policies.

What does 'operation hours' mean?

The hours during which a service or facility is functioning and available.

How important is the application process for college?

It is critical as it determines college admission.

What makes a strong application?

Clarity, completeness, relevance, and a demonstration of eligibility.

Does operation refer to surgery only in medicine?

No, it can also refer to the functioning of hospital units.

Can a person be in operation?

Figuratively, yes, referring to someone actively doing a task.

Are operations always visible?

Not necessarily; some operations, like software processes, are not visible.

What is a joint operation?

An activity carried out by two or more parties cooperating.

What's an application layer in networking?

It's the top layer that facilitates communication between software and network services.

Do all applications get a response?

Not always; it depends on the policy of the receiving party.

How do you write a job application?

Typically, it includes your personal details, education, and experience.

How do you describe an operation's success?

By its efficiency, effectiveness, and lack of interruptions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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