No. The apps are not required to use the scale. The scale can function on its own, including mode changes and tare.
To change the units to grams/ounces on the Acaia Pearl firmware 2.0, hold town the tare button when the scale is in weigh-only mode. When you change the unit into oz there will be a small green LED indicates that it is in oz mode. There is another small orange LED that will indicate charging. These LEDs are hidden when not lit.
To change the units on the Acaia Lunar, you can either use the Acaia Coffee app or switch it through the scale's settings menu. The app can be found in Apple's App Store or in the Google Play store for Android devices.