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Android for Work is now Android and Play for Work is now Google Play. Learn more about the name change.

Publish private apps

If your organization needs to distribute Android applications to your internal users, you can use managed Google Play to distribute these private apps.

After you register for a Google Play Developer account and set up the correct administrator privileges to upload and publish the app to managed Google Play, you can use the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) console to distribute the app to users.

For private apps, you have to specify settings so that they're only available to users in your enterprise and make them easy to find. You also have to specify certain settings if you're hosting the app, rather than Google.

Register as a developer

Note: To publish any private or public app, you must register as a developer.

  1. Sign in to the Google Account that will act as the account owner for your developer account.
  2. Go to the Google Play Developer Console to begin registration.
  3. Check the agreement box to accept the Google Play Developer distribution agreement. If your account has previously violated this agreement, you can't register as a Google Play Developer.
  4. Click Continue to payment
  5. Pay the registration fee and click Accept and continue.
  6. Enter your Developer account details, including a Developer name which is the name that is displayed in Google Play.
It can take up to 48 hours for your Google Play Developer registration to be processed.
Set the administrator privileges

This is only required for enterprises managing their directory through G Suite. For enterprises using managed Play Accounts all administrators have private app publishing privilege.

To upload and publish private apps, a user must be a member of the organization’s domain and an administrator. The Super Admin system role has sufficient privileges but it also has other privileges that you may not want to grant. Instead, you can create a custom role that gives only the privileges that are needed to upload private apps.

To access the managed Google Play settings in the console, your enterprise must be enrolled with managed Google Play.

To create a custom administrator role to upload private apps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console dashboard, go to Admin roles.

    To see Admin roles, you might have to click More controls at the bottom. 

  3. Click Create A New Role.
  4. Enter a name and description for the new role and click Create.

    Ensure the name is descriptive and unique, such as “managed Google Play private app administrator”.

  5. On the Privileges tab, expand Google Play.
  6. Check the Manage Google Play store box to allow the new administrator role to access and manage the apps for your organization.
  7. Check the Manage uploading private applications to the managed Google Play store box to allow the new administrator role to upload Google-hosted private apps.
  8. (Optional) If you're hosting apps instead of Google, check the Manage uploading private applications with APKs hosted outside of Google Play box to allow the new administrator role to upload externally-hosted private apps.
  9. Click Save Changes.

To give private app upload privileges to a role:

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. Go to the user's account page.
  3. Click Admin roles and privileges. You may need to click Show more to access this section.
  4. Click Manage Roles.
  5. Select a custom administrator role with the appropriate managed Google Play privileges, as follows:
    • Manage Google Play store
    • Manage uploading private applications to the managed Google Play store
    • Manage uploading private applications with APKs hosted outside of Google Play
  6. Click Update Roles.

To confirm that the user has the correct privileges to upload private apps:

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. Go to the user's account page.
  3. Click Admin roles and privileges. You may need to click Show more to access this section
  4. Click View Privileges.
  5. Expand Google Play.
  6. Ensure the following privileges are checked:
    • Manage Google Play store
    • Manage uploading private applications to the managed Google Play store
  7. If you are hosting the apps instead of Google, ensure that the Manage uploading private applications with APKs hosted outside of Google Play box is checked.
If the user doesn’t have the correct privileges, you need to make sure you created the custom administrator role and granted private app upload privileges to the user.
Publish a private app
After it's published, your app will be available for distribution via your EMM console within a few hours.
  1. Sign in to the Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click Add new application.
  3. Select a default language and add a title for the app.
    The name should be exactly how you want it to appear in managed Google Play.
  4. Click Pricing & Distribution and check the Restrict Distribution box to ensure that the app is only available in your organization. 
  5. When you're ready to publish your app, create and rollout a production release. After your app is published, you can create new releases or set up a staged rollout.
    • When uploading a self-hosted private app, check the I am uploading a configuration for an APK hosted outside of Google Play box and then generate and upload the APK metadata. You should contact your EMM provider for details on how to generate the definition file.
Allow a 3rd party developer to publish private apps to your domain

If you use 3rd party developers (such as an agency or software development house) to create custom private apps for your organization, you can grant them limited access to your Google Play Developer account to let them publish private apps to your domain.

To grant access to a 3rd party developer account to publish a private apps:

  1. Sign in to the Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click User accounts & rights.
  4. Click Invite new user.
  5. Enter the email address of the developer.
  6. (Optional) Enter an access expiration date, after which this person can no longer access the system.
  7. Check the Create apps restricted to domain box.
  8. Click Send Invitation. An email is sent to the release manager with a link to enable access.  

To publish a private app within a client's enterprise (as a 3rd party developer):

As a 3rd party developer you create private apps for your client, and if a client has granted you access in the Google Play Developer Console, you can publish these apps directly to the client enterprise.

You must accept the invitation from your client before you can publish a private app to their enterprise.

  1. Sign in to the Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select the developer account created by your client from the account menu.
  3. Publish the private app to your clients enterprise.
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