A third-party application is an application provided by a vendor other than the device or operating system (OS) manufacturer. For example, most smartphones have a camera app, but there are also third-party camera apps that offer advanced features for photo editing. Unless the device manufacturer incorporates the same features in their camera app, smartphone owners frequently choose to download and use the third-party app.
Third-party applications can be standalone programs or plugins that enhance the functionality of existing programs. Read on to learn more about what third-party applications are and how they can be used.
In this definition...
What Is a Third-Party Application?
A third-party application is an application or system developed by individuals or companies other than the device manufacturer or operating system provider. These third-party programs are designed to work within a variety of operating systems; users can easily install them to deliver valuable automation.
These are some of the most common characteristics of third-party applications::
- Require user consent to use application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Can be permitted or disabled by device and website owners at will
- Use ID tokens that hold minimal user profile information
- Use domain connections or tenant-level connections
Types of Third-Party Applications
Third-party applications are created for a variety of use cases. These are some of the most common types of third-party applications:
- Apps that connect with a service or a service app to access profile information or provide enhanced features. Users don’t download this type of third-party app but give it access to the proprietary service or app.
- Apps that are available through third-party websites or app stores. These are created by developers not affiliated with the mobile device or operating system.
- Apps created by vendors other than Google or Apple for official app stores that follow the stores’ app development criteria.
- Plugins or add-ons. These applications provide additional functionality to primary or parent programs. A good example is encryption plugins for email applications.
Examples of Third-Party Software and Applications
- Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari
- Multimedia programs such as VLC Media Player or iTunes
- Antivirus programs such as Kaspersky or Norton
- PDF reading and modification apps such as Adobe Acrobat reader or Foxit reader
- Communications apps such as Skype
What Are the Pros of Using Third-Party Apps?
Lower-cost app development
Organizations significantly reduce app development costs because they only pay for what they need. Instead of spending the money necessary to hire skilled staff and build native apps, they only pay an access fee to use third-party apps.
Higher quality and functionality
Third-party application providers are experts in their domains and frequently build higher-quality apps than individual companies can build for their needs.
Unique third-party applications, such as plugins or add-ons, offer extra functionality to proprietary programs, making them more user-friendly. Third-party applications also increase the capabilities of electronic devices like smartphones or laptops.
Immediate availability with minimal intervention
Third-party apps are available for use immediately. Companies don’t have to wait for weeks or months for their in-house developers to build the apps they need. In addition, most third-party apps require little to no maintenance to run optimally.
What Are the Cons of Using Third-Party Apps?
Less customization and user autonomy
Third-party apps are designed for use by the masses, so it’s difficult for customers to customize them for specific needs or niche industry requirements. Another thing that limits user autonomy with third-party apps is that terms and conditions often change unexpectedly. App users are at the mercy of vendors when it comes to feature, service, and security updates.
Potential security risks
The simplicity of many third-party apps can also lead to security risks. Apps from unofficial app stores or websites are more likely to contain malware, viruses, and other security threats.
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