Posted by:Monica Samuel December 14th, 2012

With enterprise application stores gaining ground, Google has taken a great step forward with Google Play Private Channels. In simplest terms, these are enterprise app stores where enterprises can deploy Android applications to their employees privately.

Enterprises must hold a Google Apps account to take advantage of Google Play Private Channels. At a nascent stage, the private stores do not include all features a business could want and impose certain restrictions that could slow down adoption. But this is just the initial release. Future version could improve the capabilities and manageability options for these channels.

As of now, a Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government domain can have a Private Channel on the Google Play Store. Google Apps domain administrators can allow domain users to register with the Android Developer Console to publish Android applications to a Private Channel. It’s important to note here that the publisher account owner who registered with the Android Developer Console must be a Google Apps user in the same domain, such as internal IT staff and not external to the organization.

Domain administrators can control which users or user groups will have access to the Private Channels, and can download internal applications.

The Google Play Store comes with requisite application publishing features including:

    • user authentication
    • virus and malware detection
    • device targeting
    • payment
    • user rating
    • user feedback
Once an app is published on the Private Channel and the Google Apps administrator has granted users access to the Private Channel, they can download apps from the Private Channel using the Google Play Store app on their devices. Or IT can send users an email regarding newly launched applications.

What does the Google Play Private Channel not support?

Some restrictions that administrators need to understand on the current version of Private Channels:

    • The store only applies to Android applications. Applications cannot be deployed on BlackBerry, iPhone or other mobile platforms.
    • The private stores can only be accessed on Android devices, and not via browsers on PCs.
    • An application that is published on a Private Channel cannot be published on Google Play Store also.
    • An organization with a Google Apps account can have only one channel, even if the account is set up with multiple domains.
    • It is possible to have multiple publishers in one channel where all publishers can operate independently.
    • You cannot port an existing application on the Google Play Store to a Private Channel since duplication is not allowed. However, you can change the publishing option – Restrict Availability in your Google Play Developer Console.
    • Applications cannot be published to a specific group of users. You can only target specific device models or country.
Apple does not support enterprise app stores but allows enterprises to distribute iOS apps. Third party vendors also allow enterprises to push apps to various mobile platforms. Google is the first to offer a private store that can be managed and controlled by the enterprise.

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