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Add-on versus built-in

By Jean-Claude Elias - Dec 28,2017 - Last updated at Dec 28,2017

Are add-ons a good thing or are they just a burden that slow down your computer or your smartphone?

Adding third party filters and special effects to Photoshop, installing an ad blocker to Google’s Chrome Internet browser, adding an anti-virus programme to Windows, these are typical examples of add-ons. So are TrueCaller, Speedtest and tens of similar apps for smartphones. 

Add-on software usually consists of a small piece of application you add to a larger, a main one, to compensate for its eventual shortcomings or simply to add some functionality, some extra features to it. One may ask why such features were not integrated in the first place by the maker of the bigger, of the main product.

Integrating every possible functionality in a software product is unrealistic, given the infinite possibilities. This is where add-ons come. Third party developers think of something to add to an existing, a major software application, giving this way users the choice to add it or not.

The countless small apps you install in your smartphone’s Apple iOS or Android OS are nothing but add-ons. Understandably smartphone makers cannot think of every single possibility, and even if they did, it would be a non-sense to overload the device with a large number of add-ons of which you would only like to have only a fraction.

So add-ons are convenient, but they are anything but a perfect solution. You have to install them, to maintain them, and because they were not designed and coded by the maker of the main system, they tend to slow it down. Still, they remain the main method for adding features to existing programmes.

However, evolution often intervenes and changes an add-on that has become very popular into a built-in function. One of the most famous examples is that of Windows Defender Security, Microsoft’s own anti-virus that comes built in Windows 10. Before it one had to buy and install a third-party anti-virus.

The need for an anti-virus had become vital and the company decided that having it integrated in its operating system would spare the consumers the trouble and expense to install a third party add-on anti-virus. Ever since its inception Microsoft Defender Security has proven to be a success story in the world of software.

The latest smart evolution of add-ons is the ad-blocker that works in Google’s Chrome browser and prevents annoying ads from spoiling your browsing pleasure. Until now you had to search, find and install such a product, adding it to Chrome. The most popular to this date has been Adblock Plus by German software developer Eyeo. It is an efficient, convenient piece of software that brings you peace of mind and clean pages when browsing with Chrome. It is still an add-on with its load of trouble!

Google now seems on its way to making a version of Chrome that has its own, built-in ad blocker. It would certainly come as a convenient feature and will save users the trouble to buy a third party product, such as Adblock Plus. Would it be as good as the latter? It’s too early to say, for the new Chrome will not be available before February 15, 2018, as it has just been announced. However, one thing is certain, the built-in ad-blocker and Adblock Plus won’t do exactly the same thing.

The first will keep away ads that do not comply with Google’s standard of advertising ethics and rules, ads that are too invasive and frankly annoying. Which means that some ads will still find their way to the pages you are browsing.

 

Adblock Plus on the other hands block all ads, if you set it to do that, showing you only the original contents of the website you are browsing. It will therefore be convenience versus full performance. Consumers will have a choice and it is a good thing, for whereas Chrome has been always hailed as the fastest browser, its excessive permeability to ads has been often criticised. The new version with the built-in ad blocker should please and satisfy many a user.

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