Apple Business Manager: How to distribute apps

7th May 2021
Person working on apple ipad using ipen

With Apple Business Manager, you’re able to distribute apps outside of the public app store to company-owned Apple devices. This is great for those who want to deploy custom apps that have specific functions and a tailored look for their business. Through using Apple Business Manager, you can privately and securely distribute apps that are unique to your organisation to specific partners and clients, as well as providing internal employees with proprietary apps.

What is Apple Business Manager?

Apple Business Manager is a web-based portal that enables businesses to manage all of their corporate-owned Apple devices in one place. Through this central management system, you can easily enrol devices and distribute content to your employees without having to physically have the device in front of you. You can also create managed Apple IDs, assign roles and monitor usage, providing a greater level of control and helping you to clearly see how your organisation is functioning.

What are custom apps?

Custom apps are specifically designed to meet the needs of your business. They give you the ease of use of the app store, whilst allowing you to privately and securely distribute them to members of your organisation using Apple Business Manager. This means you can provide unique features and functionality for your employees, benefit from extra security features for sensitive company data, and give the app a tailored look in line with your branding and logo.

How can I distribute custom apps?

Once your app has been created, you can privately distribute it using App Store Connect. You can upload the app for review under the Custom App Distribution option, and you can also invite testers to beta test the app before you officially distribute it. Learn how to use App store Connect here.

App Store Connect allows you to distribute privately in up to 69 regions, to organisations that you have identified. To access the app and provide access to your employees, you can go to the content section of Apple Business Manager to distribute it through Mobile Device Management. You can also choose to create redemption codes for authorised users to download it from the App Store.

How do I make my custom app available to specific organisations?

By entering the Organisation ID, you can make your app visible in the organisation’s Apple Business Manager account. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the App Store Connect Homepage and Click My Apps.
  2. Select your app from the list.
  3. Under Pricing and Availability, go to App Distribution Methods and select Public.
  4. Under type, you will then enter the Organisation ID, which will then give the organisation access through their Apple Business Manager.
  5. Once your app has been approved by the App Review Team, it will then be available under the Custom Apps section of the organisation’s Apple Business Manager.

How do I find out my Organisation ID?

  1. Sign in to your Apple Business Manager with an administrator account.
  2. Click Settings in the sidebar.
  3. Click Enrolment Information. Here you will find your Organisation ID under Organisation Information.

Important information from Apple

App review: each custom app, as well as each updated version submitted for custom distribution, goes through the app review process with Apple. The same app review guidelines for App Store apps apply to custom apps. The review process typically takes one or two days. For more information about the app review process, see the App Review website.”

“App Security: if your app contains sensitive business data, you should include an authentication mechanism within the app. Apple highly recommends using best practices for in-app authentication and encryption. For more information on secure coding best practices, see the Security Framework article on the Apple Developer website.”

Head over to Apple’s Developer online tools to learn more about distributing custom apps using App Store Connect and Apple Business Manager. The video Custom App Distribution with Apple Business Manager is also a great tool for developers, business owners or IT administrators, showcasing the benefits of Custom Apps and providing guidance on each step in the process.  

Here at Hardsoft, we offer Apple Business Manager setup, support, and MDM solutions, which can be added to your account from just 0.70p per week. Alongside our flexible Devices for Teams and Lease solutions that allow you to invest in Apple devices for your business, we can also help you get up and running with Apple Business Manager and provide advice on the terminology and functions when getting started.

If you would like to find out more, check out our Apple Business Manager FAQs, or get in touch with an expert member of our team. We’re on hand to answer any questions you may have.