WordPress.com now offers the ability to add third-party themes and plugins, like Photocrati Pro and NextGEN Pro. But only if you are using their Business Plan.
If you are already running on WordPress.com or considering the move there, then upgrading to their Business Plan makes the platform more like a true WordPress Managed Hosting company. Except without any access to FTP.
There is one other thing worth mentioning. WordPress.com uses a custom backend design, currently code named Calypso. It’s a beautiful interface, and very fast. But the third-party themes and plugins you can install, like NextGEN Gallery, do not show in that interface.
So this means you will need to load the default WordPress backend in order to customize those themes and plugins. Calypso is nice, but it hasn’t been adopted by the WordPress development community yet.
We are happy to share that we’ve gone through and tested Photocrati Pro, NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro over at WordPress.com. And they all work!