Tech Tuesday: Third-Party

Welcome to another week, dear reader.  Hopefully Monday didn’t burn you out too much, but if it did maybe stay and read a while, hmm?  I’ve got a simple topic for Tech Tuesday today and it’s one that’s relevant to any person who uses a smartphone or computer, especially the software on it.  Ever heard the term ‘third-party developer’?

Oh, you haven’t?

Here’s a quick refresher on that then.  The company who manufactured your device and the one who makes the operating system are considered a ‘first-party’ and their programs, services, and accessories are also considered to be support by a ‘first-party’.  There’s no real ‘second-party’ just like there’s no second-person perspective in writing (well there is, but it’s tricky) so let’s skip right on.  Third-party refers to anyone else, literally anyone else, who makes programs or accessories for a device.  Here’s how it works, essentially.

Microsoft makes the Windows operating system as well as the Surface line of hardware, which makes Surface entirely first-party.  While Microsoft also makes Type Covers, they do not make actual cases.  Even though they partner with other companies who specialize in cases, these cases are still technically third-party, even though Microsoft may label them as official or licensed products and sell them alongside like the brand doesn’t matter.

Now you have, let’s apply it

This concept of outside help is part and parcel to the PC, because Microsoft cannot make all the programs we as users need.  Regarding smartphones, however, third-party support is something of an oddity because the companies who run the websites we visit are the ones making apps for mobile, becoming third-party developers.  What does that mean for a user then?

It means that every company with a website is, technically, expected to have a ‘website’ (an app) on mobile.  You use Facebook on your laptop, then move to another room on your tablet.  The app is acting up, so you blame Facebook, not discerning between the service and the company, and settle to watch television or what have you.  The same kind of blame goes for any company from Twitter to Zagat, Amazon to PayPal; they run websites and have apps for mobile devices and have blame placed on them, the third-party, when the service malfunctions or ceases to function.

Yes, and?

This is the point.  If an app you want to use on Android isn’t there, it’s the fault of the third-party developer that it’s only on iOS.  The same can be said of Android apps on iOS.  What’s different, however, is how this applies to mobile OS #3, Windows.  Yeah, you knew it was going to come to this, didn’t you?

The discussion on Windows, whether it be Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile, is always centered on two things: third-party apps and first-party decisions regarding hardware.  We’ll be focusing on the former, obviously.  When talking about how a Lumia phone compares to an iPhone 6S, HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, LG V10, or whichever other flagship there is to compare with, the topic of a ‘lack of third-party apps’ comes up unless the person discussing it really doesn’t know much.

But when that apps argument comes up, the one telling people to ‘go for iOS or Android if you want apps’, Microsoft gets the blame.  Microsoft, the first-party developer and now-manufacturer of Lumia and Windows for mobile, gets knocked for not having third-party support.  Knock that sad crap off, and place the blame where it belongs: on the third-party developers themselves.  Snapchat isn’t on Windows 10 Mobile (and keeps removing unofficial clients for it, too) because it doesn’t want to.  SoundCloud doesn’t have an official app on Windows 10 Mobile because they haven’t made one (yet, if ever).  Even banks, whose account holders could very well be using the app fine on iOS or Android don’t even have an alternative app to use and are thus forced to use the web interface via a browser.  None of that fault comes back to Microsoft.

The send-off

Sorry for the little bit of rant that came out at the end, dear reader, but it’s something that has upheld a false argument against an OS for too long and is patently incorrect.  Other than the argument ‘all my friends use *whatever OS*, so I’ll go with them’, what’s keeping you from trying a new mobile, or even desktop OS?  Familiarity, popularity, third-party developer support, first-party developer and hardware support?  Let me know in a comment or on Twitter and we can chat about it.  Until next time, try giving something new a try this week.

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