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"ein Apfel" means "an apple" or "one apple". Either translation is accepted.
"a apple" is wrong because, in English, you need to use "an" instead of "a" if the following word starts with a vowel. This has nothing to do with German. If you struggle with English, you may want to study German from a language you're more comfortable with.
Why did the correction say "1 apple"?
That's because "1 apple" is accepted as an alternative spelling of "one apple", and if you enter an incorrect translation such as "a apple", the system will try to display a correct solution which is as close to the translation you entered as possible. One of the criteria is the number of characters.
What's the difference between "ein Apfel" and "Apfel"?
"ein Apfel" is the nominative case, which is used if the noun is the subject of the sentence, and "einen Apfel" is the accusative case, which is used if the noun is the direct object of the sentence. The nominative case is also used when talking about fragments out of context, such as "ein Apfel".