Why do computers behave the way they do? And why do some computers behave differently than others? Here we learn about software, the essence that makes computers do what they do.
Specialized computers[edit | edit source]
Some computers do only one thing. For example, the embedded computer inside kitchen scale cares only about measuring weight. Let's look at a few other examples.
Can you think of other specialized computers that focus on one task?
Apps[edit | edit source]
Other computers, for example smartphones, have some basic functions like calling and sending text messages, but they can also run many apps that do a variety of tasks.
- calculator app
- alarm clock / timer
- book reader
Can you name other apps? Did you use some of them?
Apps have many advantages. You can pack a lot of apps in one device. Apps usually don't cost you anything. And it is easy to replace misbehaving app with a better one.
Apps are also called applications, programs, or software.
Intelligent computers[edit | edit source]
Computers are not smart like humans. They cannot think and act with reason. Not yet anyway. But they sometimes come close. Echo, a kind of smart speaker, is a computer able to communicate with Alexa to answer questions about a number of topics. Many apps can do the same.
The advantage of intelligent computers is that you don't have to look for an app that does what you want. You just ask the computer the way you would ask a friend. The disadvantage is that these intelligent computers aren't really very intelligent. They often misunderstand what you want or they simply don't know how to help you. That's why people still prefer apps for most tasks.
Certain websites use artificial intelligence to recommend to you new and interesting products. For example, many people who search for cats on the web like cats and also buy cat clothing. If enough people both search for cats and buy cat clothing, the website starts to take notice. It then will recommend cat clothing to people searching for cats, in an attempt to sell more cat clothing