Enterprise app distribution
This week we answer a question we’ve heard a lot from our clients: ‘I’ve invested in building a great app for my employees – but what’s the best way of getting it into their hands?’.
Apple or Google?
When you think about distributing an app – the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are probably the first options that spring to mind. Apple and Google have built app stores that are built into the operating system and have become hugely popular, making them a great solution for apps that are aimed at consumers. For company internal apps though, it’s a bit more complicated, especially on Apple devices where app review means you have to make sure your app fits into Apple’s distribution models.
Whilst the Apple Store is well-understood by its users in terms of function and search capabilities – it’s not necessarily the best option for distributing private apps.
In opting to distribute on a public platform you run the risk of exposing sensitive data on your internal app to the general public. The obvious answer to this is to implement security features that restrict access to authorised users. But while this helps keep your app secure, it can cause problems with app review.
Apple publishes policies and guidelines for apps to help understand what apps will and won’t be approved. However, the app review is quite subjective and the outcome of review can vary from individual reviewer to reviewer. By publishing apps on the app store, businesses risk having their apps rejected for not complying with the guidelines – or a specific reviewer’s interpretation of the guidelines.
Over the last few years Apple has been tightening their review guidelines, and likely will continue to do so – exposing businesses to the risk of an app that was previously approved no longer being allowed in the app store when it’s time for an update if Apple’s guidance has changed or a new reviewer looks at the app and decides differently.
For more information, you can check out Apple’s current App Store review guidelines right here.
What’s the solution?
Go private. By creating a private app store solely for the purpose of distributing your enterprise app, you ensure that access to your app is regulated and sensitive data is protected from prying eyes. Not only is it more secure – it’s also low risk. You do not need to submit your app for approval – therefore you do not risk having your app pulled if Apple decides it no longer complies with its regulations.
You stay in control and the process of updating your app becomes a lot easier – and safer – now, and in the future.
If you do insist on using the Apple App Store to distribute an enterprise app – there are some things you can do to increase your chances of it getting approved. Apple likes apps that have a broad user appeal – so provide some functionality or content that makes your app useful to a broad-based audience. You might not want to include it up-front and instead try a first pass at app review without it, but you should be ready to act if your app isn’t approved initially. Also, pay close attention to your marketing copy and your app review notes.
Apple will take this into account when reviewing your app – so make sure you highlight the appeal of your product to the broadest possible audience.
Try bringing the features that encompass the widest appeal to the forefront of your copy. Also if you do make users login, be sure to provide a test account for the reviewer so they can see what the apps does, rather than leave them to wonder what is behind that login – and giving them a reason to reject your app right away.
Google has yet to impose the same level of control on the Play Store, as Apple has on their public platform – but of course, this could change. Regardless, private app stores support apps for both iOS and Android and ensure that enterprise apps – and sensitive data – are protected from the public domain.
Our recommendation to any client wishing to successfully – and safely – distribute an enterprise app? Go private.