Software applications developed by a person or a company rather than the original manufacturer or the owner of the website that offers it is called third-party apps. And apps developed by the same manufacturer or owner is named as native apps.
For example, WhatsApp, the messaging app, is a native app while there are many other messaging apps in the play store that are third-party apps. There are few apps in the app store that are approved to be used in the device but are not developed by them.
What are the different types of the third-party app?
There are mainly three kinds of third-party apps. They are
1. Apps developed for official app stores, but not by the manufacturer of the store, i.e., Google for Google play store and Apple for Apple’s App Store. But these apps satisfy the development criteria of the app stores. These apps are also known as approved apps.
Approved apps are developed by other vendors to provide services for apps like Facebook or Snapchat.
2. Apps offered through unofficial app stores or websites unlinked with the device manufacturer or the operating system is also a third party app. These stores may have lots of apps in their store for a free or lower cost.
But be cautious when you download apps from them as they may contain malware.
3. Sometimes apps connect to another app or its service to provide some advanced features or to access some personal information. These apps are also third-party apps.
A perfect example of these types of apps is Quizzstar that accesses certain parts of your Facebook profile.
These apps are the most dangerous of them all because they can easily access the information from other apps.
Suggested read: What is Spyware?
What is a third party app store?
So if these apps are dangerous, then how do people get their hands on them? From where do people download them?
Mobile apps are downloaded mostly through the two most popular app stores – the Apple Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android mobiles. But there are many other app stores out on the internet. There are almost 300 app stores, and the numbers are increasingly growing.
Some smartphone manufacturers have their app store. Like Samsung, mobile devices have Samsung Mobile Apps, and Kindle Fire has Amazon Appstore.
There are still a lot of app stores left. These apps stores are known as third-party app stores. And like everything else it has both pros and cons.
Why use them?
From a developers point of view, third part asp stores provide more freedom to the developers in terms of the distribution policy.
From a consumer’s point of view, these apps tend to offer apps with “cracked” versions of paid apps and “hacked” apps to watch free movies and music.
It is also easy to market these apps. These apps stores do not have a strict approval policy allowing the developers some freedom.
Third-party app stores are famous in countries like China, where the official app stores aren’t officially available. It is also popular with people who think it’s against their self-made policy to use the official stores.
Some people avoid using official stores to protect their privacy. The third party app stores also provide different payment options like cryptocurrency so the user can remain anonymous.
How to know if an app is dangerous?
While some of the third-party apps are helpful, it is always best to be safe. It’s better to protect yourself from an app than worry about the data or information lost. Here are some of the ways to protect yourself and your mobile phone.
Check the app’s permissions
Before you install a new app in your phone always check for the permissions that an app requires. It is still essential to check for these permissions because you are ranting them to the app.
So if you find that your app is requesting permissions for a service that is no way related to the purpose of the app then make sure to deny that permission. For example, a torch app doesn’t need to access your camera or your file manager.
Mostly when you download apps, you have to grant all the permissions to the app to install it onto your device. But you can change these permissions after installing them. Go to your settings page in your phone and grant/ revoke permissions to services.
Check your app’s reviews
Before you install a new app also make sure to check the app’s reviews rather than the ratings for the app. If users complain about the different permissions that an app demands then you have to do more research.
It’s also important to check the reviews for the recent version of the app. Change the sort reviews section from most helpful to newest first. Navigate to options and choose the latest version. The reviews for the latest version of the app are now displayed.
Some times people are paid to provide an excellent review to an app, but you can easily spot them. In a genuine review, a user might talk about the problems with the app, their opinion about the app or leave a review praising the app that doesn’t look scripted.
But it is crucial not to trust reviews blindly.
Check the app’s description
The description box is used to highlight the key features of the app. Look for a professional looking description, with clean grammar, proper punctuation, and spelling.
Developers will also explain what each key feature does rather than listing them one below the other. Most developers will also have a feedback link to tell more about their apps.
The play store policy states to display screenshots of the main features of the app. If you find apps with generalized screenshots of the app, warning bells must go off in your head.
A third-party app is an app that has not been developed by the manufacturer or the owner of the website. Some of these apps may be a blessing, but it is essential to learn to notice dangerous apps.
The official play stores are trying their best to keep the dangerous apps away. They periodically change their policy and bans apps that don’t follow these guidelines.
If you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from malicious apps, then you’ll be safe. Some of the apps in the stores are entirely unnecessary, so don’t bother installing them.