About apps in Microsoft Teams

Apps are a great way to bring together your workplace tools and services and collaborate with others. Apps help end-users be more productive, collaborative, and effective in their day-to-day tasks. Organizations use apps to connect with their customers, provide services, and share information. Apps let users be more effective in Teams chats, meetings, and channels. Examples are end-users using a pinned Calendar in Teams to quickly collaborate with others, an app with bots functionality informing users of QoS of a web service in a Teams channel, and an app to share and assign tasks to various end-users in a channel.

Our extensive selection of validated and secure apps in the store provides end-users access to the tools and services that your organization needs every day. Microsoft Teams apps are web-based SaaS apps that do not need to be deployed. End-users can use apps in Teams based only on the permissions provided by you. As an admin, you just approve or block the use of any app for your organization’s users. You control the availability of apps for all users across meetings, chats, and channels.

To provide your end-users with apps that they need, read on to understand the types of apps and where your users access those apps. To learn more about use of apps, read Overview of apps for end-users

The different types of apps that your end-users can use in Teams are:

Core apps

Some default functionality such as activity feed, Teams channels, chat, calendar, and calls are available and pinned by default for ease of access for end-users. As an admin you can modify the default behavior using setup policy.

Core apps are the apps pinned in Teams by default.

Microsoft-provided apps

Microsoft provides many apps to improve productivity and collaboration. You and end-users can find these apps by looking for Microsoft listed as the Publisher in admin center or listed as Provider in the Team store.

Teams comes with a set of built-in apps, including Lists, Tasks, Praise, Approvals, and more. We recommend that you include Teams featured apps—such as Planner—in your initial Teams rollout.

Microsoft apps in Teams admin center

Third-party apps validated by Microsoft

In addition to Microsoft-provided apps, you can use Microsoft-validated third-party apps. Microsoft validates the functionality and security of these apps before making these apps available in Teams store. To understand the benefits of app validation, see validation of third-party apps.

An example of third-party apps in Teams store

Custom apps

Apps created by developers in your organization are called custom apps. Development of such an app is commissioned for specific requirements of your organization and you have controls to allow or disallow such apps. Developers in your organization can quickly build custom low-code solutions by using Teams integration with Microsoft Power Platform.

After an admin allows the use of custom apps, end-users find such apps by clicking Built for your org in the left navigation of Teams store.

Custom apps in Teams store in Teams desktop app

Understand sideloading of custom apps

When developing custom apps and before distributing those to the end-users, developers test the apps by adding it to the store to test on their own or test with a team in which they sideload the app. This method is called sideloading of apps and applies only to custom apps.

Developers can sideload an app to make it available to the members of a specific team, typically for testing an under-development app. This doesn't require admin approval if sideloading is allowed. As an admin, you can disallow sideloading for any developer.

If you disallow sideloading, the developers can still test their apps in a test tenant. Once custom app development is complete, developers request administrators to distribute their custom app to the end-users. For details, see how to publish a custom app. As an admin, you can allow or disallow the use a custom app for specific users.

About App Templates

App templates for Teams are functional, production-ready sample apps created by Microsoft to illustrate popular use cases, showcase app development best practices, and provide open-source apps that developers can extend to create custom apps. Your organization developers customize App Templates for your organization needs with simple changes to the code available in GitHub. As an admin, you provide these apps as custom apps for your end-users.

To know more, see Microsoft Teams App Templates.

Understand app capabilities

To provide rich experiences that allow end-users to work inside Teams, app developers leverage the following app capabilities. Messaging extensions let the users interact with your web service Teams client. They search or start actions in an external system. You can send the result of the interaction to the Teams client as a richly formatted card. Meeting extensibility apps integrates a developer’s apps within meetings and offers a responsive in-meeting experience.

Bots are also referred to as a chatbot or conversational bot. It's an app that executes simple and repetitive tasks. A bot interaction can be a quick question and answer, or it can be a complex conversation that provides access to services or assistance. Users can chat with a bit one-on-one or in a channel. For example, you can use Polly app to create quick surveys, get feedback, and do a pulse check.

Tabs are Teams-aware webpages pinned at the top of a channel or a chat. Tabs let you interact with content and services with a web-like experience. You can add tabs as part of a channel inside a team, group chat, or personal app for an individual user.

Webhooks and connectors deliver content and updates from services that end-users frequently use (such as Jira Cloud and Bitbucket) directly into a channel conversation. Apps that use this capability can communicate with external apps and can send or receive notifications and messages from an external service.

Messaging extensions are shortcuts to insert app content or to act on a message without end-users having to navigate away from the conversation. Messaging extensions can have search commands for end-users to quickly find external content and insert it in a message or action commands.

To view common use cases mapped to Teams capabilities, see Map your use cases to Teams app features.