Understand Microsoft Teams apps

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. Examples are end-users using a pinned Calendar app in Teams to quickly collaborate with others, an app with bots functionality informing users of the quality 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 catalog of validated and secure apps in Teams 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 don't need to be deployed. End-users can use apps in Teams based only on the permissions provided by you. As an admin, you use enterprise-grade policies to allow or block any app for your organization's users. You control the availability of apps for each user across the various contexts such as meeting, chats, and channels.

This article helps you understand the types of apps and where from your users access those apps. To learn more about the 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 Teams functionalities such as activity feed, teams, chat, calendar, calls, files, and assignments (education tenants) are available by default and pinned by default for ease of access for end-users. For frontline workers, only activity, shifts, chat, and calling are available and pinned. As an admin, you can modify this 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 Teams admin center or listed as Provider in the Teams store.

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

Screenshot of 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.

Screenshot of an example of third-party apps in the Teams' store.

Custom apps

Apps created by developers in your organization are called custom apps (or Line of Business apps). Your organization may commission the creation of custom apps for org-specific requirements. You have the control to allow or block such apps for entire organization or for specific users. Developers in your organization can build custom low-code solutions by using Teams integration with Microsoft Power Platform.

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

Screenshot of custom apps in Teams' store in the Teams' desktop app.

For more information, see Understand and manage custom and sideloaded apps.

About App Templates

Using the app development methods, Microsoft creates and provides functional and production-ready sample apps. Collectively, these apps are called App templates for Teams and are provided to:

  • Illustrate a few collaboration use cases in Teams.
  • Showcase app development best practices and methods.
  • Provide open-source apps that developers can extend to create their own apps.

Your organization developers customize App Templates with simple changes to the provided source code. You provide these apps as custom apps for your end-users, to meet any organization needs.

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 use 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 capabilities.