Incremental encoders can be used in positioning and motor feedback applications. These would specifically be cut-to-length, crane or hoist, and heavy vehicle applications.
Absolute encoders are typically used in CNC, medical and robot applications where high resolution is required and absolute feedback reduces power-up sequences.
Resolvers are used in applications that are environmentally demanding. This means extreme temperatures, shock and vibration. These applications can be aerospace, military, heavy vehicle and radio active.