Enterprise developers have multiple strategies for deploying their applications. Determining which is right for you depends on several factors, including who the application is intended for and your role as a developer. This article outlines strategies for publishing enterprise applications to Google Play depending on the audience your application is targeted for.
Publishing applications to the commercial market
If you’re a developer building an application for a broad set of customers, you should publish your application to Google Play. Google Play connects you to billions of users every day and presents your apps on the best discovery and distribution platform.
To get started with Google Play, you’ll need a Google Play Developer account. Each of your developers that is responsible for publishing applications, whether for internal beta testing or to the public market, needs an account to use the Google Play Console. Your organization can assign developers to various levels of access in the Google Play Console, and to one or more specific applications published to your organization. Once you’re set up, you can use Google Play to not just publish and promote your applications, but also monitor key performance indicators, engage with user reviews, and more. We’ve got a rich set of training available to help you get started.
It’s important to note that developers should be aware of what they can and can’t do when building applications. Google wants to provide a safe and trusted experience for everyone and our policies are designed to deliver your apps and games safely to billions of people worldwide. Applications built for businesses are subject to the same rules as all other applications in Google Play and we suggest you be informed about the latest updates from the Developer Policy Center.
Finally, if you’re using trademarked graphics or text, like a company name or logo, or you’re using licensed or copyrighted intellectual property, then you should notify Google that you have permission prior to publishing your app. Otherwise, this may be interpreted as a violation of Google Play policy, even if the material is from your own company’s brand. Remember, you wouldn’t want a 3rd party developer using your trademarks, so we need to confirm that your developer account has permission to use it.
Publishing custom applications to enterprise customers
Sometimes, a developer will need to publish an application to a specific set of enterprises. In this case, developers have two options:
- Publish the application directly, using the company’s Managed Google Play organization ID.
- Provide the application binary (APK) for the company to publish to their employees
The first option is the preferred option for many developers. With this method, a developer maintains control over their release cadence and ensures that the latest version of their application is always available to the organizations they publish to.
To use this method, a developer should work with their customer to ensure that they have enabled Managed Google Play for their company using the company’s Enterprise Mobility Management system. Next, they should work with the customer to ensure they have provided their organization ID to the third party developer. Finally, developers can use the Google Play Console to target their applications to their business customers.
In some cases, customers may need more granular control over which versions of an app reaches end users. To achieve this, developers can create closed test tracks corresponding to individual versions of an application and target those versions to specific Managed Google Play organization IDs. By targeting individual closed tracks to individual organizations, the IT department can adopt specific versions of a developer’s app at their own pace of roll-out. While this offers additional flexibility for how the roll-out occurs, it requires close collaboration between developers and IT administrators and may not be available from every EMM.
Alternatively, enterprises can take your binary and publish it within their own organization. The suggested method to do this is to use Managed Google Play. Other methods may be available, but are not endorsed by Google. If you allow organizations to publish their own copy of an APK, it’s important to note that an app's package name must be globally unique in all of Google Play, not just within a Managed Google Play organization. If a package name is already claimed, you should recompile your app with a different package name.
In either case, developers can streamline their publishing workflows by integrating to the Google Play Custom Publishing API. This API allows for programmatic management of Play store listings, APKs, and more. The Google Play Custom Publishing API has already been integrated into popular deployment and release tools like Fastlane and can easily be integrated into custom tooling.
Publishing internal applications to employees
Enterprises can develop their own private apps and publish them to employees. Enterprises have multiple options when it comes to publishing private apps to their employees:
- Enterprises can choose to publish their private apps using the Google Play Console
- Enterprises can publish private apps directly from their Enterprise Mobility Management, if the vendor supports integration to Google Play
- Enterprises can publish private apps using the Custom Publishing API
Private apps go through a streamlined verification process compared to public and custom apps. Private apps are intended to be built and used by an individual enterprise. Google provides greater flexibility over the use of restricted features such as location or telephony features to enterprise developers in order to allow support for a broader set of specialized workflows.