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How should an enterprise app developer distribute IOS apps to its customers?

Since the huge numbers of businesses are prevailing through iOS apps to interact with more customers, many new iOS apps are essential for different businesses. The iOS app distribution needs to undergo a defined procedure to reach its client from its enterprise app developer. Before the official execution of enterprise app development of iOS, it requires testing.  The testing procedure extends from developer level unit testing to administering beta testing through variety of hardware.

The enterprise app distribution is not as easy as it seems to be. There are different distribution methods for different scenarios. Every distribution method has its own predefined rules with respect to its scenario. The diversity of scenarios may include distribution of free apps, one-time buy apps, in-house apps, and enterprise app development for their clients etc. Apple has created a variety of programs for the distribution of iOS apps. The procedure of deployment is characterized by two factors, which are, delivering of archive file (app binary) to a device and license handling. The distribution methods include:

App Store Distribution

It is the most common iOS app distribution method. The iOS app is officially launched on Apple app store that is available for everyone possessing an iOS device and an Apple ID. But this approval process is quite deferral for enterprise app developer. It is because it has quite a long interval between the submission and initial feedback of application. A delay may take more than a month. According to the Apple’s terms and conditions, enterprise app development needs to overlook as per the requirements. App store distribution is beneficial if you need immediate availability and visibility.

Ad-Hoc Deployment

Ad-Hoc distribution method is used for limited time or for temporary distribution on limited number of devices. In this type iOS app does not need to be launched on Apple App store. For its deployment, an enterprise app developer needs to deliver the app binary (an archive file) on each device through an email or an URL download. In addition, enterprise app developer needs to add the UDID (Unique Device Identifier) of each device and register those devices on Apple Member Centre before installation of app binary.  The exported app binary is then distributed through MDM (Mobile Device Management) as enterprise binary. This distribution method is a good option for intermediate stage of your app in case of temporary deployment.

Enterprise Deployment

Enterprise distribution method is used for in-house apps. These apps are for enterprise’s business use and are distributed to its staff only. It doesn’t need any device’s UDIDs or publishing on Apple app store. The app can be installed when it is signed and exported from Xcode (an integrated development environment for Apple developing software). The company is held accountable for the app distribution within its premises. It is considered to be a violation of Apple program to use enterprise signed IPAs for devices outside the organization.

B2B VPP Deployment

VPP is a Volume Purchase Program that allows your business to have its own private app store. There are internal app binaries for only devices that have joined VPP. Those app binaries can be shared with other businesses by using VPP (Business to Business collaboration). The app distribution process is handled by VPP itself. VPP is used in combination with MDM service. MDM enables VPP invitations in order allow apps to execute in devices.

These distribution methods are adopted according to the nature and purpose of enterprise app development.

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