enterprise team app meeting
Back to articles Back to articles

The Apple Developer Enterprise Program and How to Distribute Your Enterprise App

Keith Shields June 15, 2021

Building an enterprise app is a great way to create a custom solution to your business’s challenges. If you’re considering creating an app for your internal team, you’ll also need to consider how you’re going to make it available to your employees. That’s where the Apple Developer Enterprise Program comes in. The Apple Enterprise App Store was designed for exactly this purpose. Here’s what you need to know about this secure and effective way to make your new enterprise app available to your employees.

What Is the Apple Enterprise App Store?

The Apple Enterprise App Store is a private app catalog explicitly created for enterprise applications. Enterprise apps are built to assist organizations with solving their problems, just as a consumer app helps individuals. They are generally more complex than consumer apps, and they are designed to integrate or interface with other enterprise apps. Since enterprise apps are built for organizational use, they are designed with strict security and administration management requirements.

The Apple Enterprise App Store provides access to iOS enterprise apps for mobile workers. Employees can find and download corporate-approved and secure mobile apps from the store. Much like the consumer Apple App Store, this one also has an easy-to-use admin console that supports the app lifecycle and solicits feedback and user ratings. Unlike the consumer App Store, the Apple Enterprise App Store offers a custom-branded experience for users with customized company branding.

What Is the Apple Developer Enterprise Program?

The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is the vehicle for large organizations to add their proprietary enterprise apps and provide employees access to the Apple Enterprise App Store. Through this process, companies can build and launch internal-use apps for private distribution to their employees. Company staff can go to the store to find company-approved apps and download them through a mobile device management solution or a secure internal system.

Apple Developer Enterprise Program Criteria

The Apple Enterprise Program may sound too good to be true for businesses, but it’s not meant for everyone. This program is only available for companies where the App Store, Apple Business Manager, or other available solutions won’t work. It’s not for apps that will be sold to consumers, as it’s designed only for internal company use to distribute proprietary apps. 

Additionally, there are eligibility requirements for your organization. In order to use the program, you must:

  • Have 100 or more employees.
  • Be a company that’s a legal entity and not a DBA (doing business as), branch, or trade name.
  • Agree to use the program only for apps that will be exclusively for internal use in your organization and distributed securely.
  • Establish systems and security to ensure that only employees can download these enterprise apps by implementing a process to protect membership assets and credentials.
  • Pass Apple’s verification interview and agree to the required continuous evaluation process.

What Apps Can You Distribute Through the Program?

The Apple enterprise app distribution is only for Apple apps. More specifically, it’s only available for apps developed especially for your company for use on Apple platforms. So, if you make an Android version of your app, it cannot be made available through this vehicle.

There are a number of programs in place to support businesses outside of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. You can use the App Store designed for consumer use, and beta versions of apps can use TestFlight. Apple Business Manager or Ad Hoc Distribution supports custom apps for specific businesses, including your organization. You are still allowed to do all of that with the Apple Developer Enterprise Program since it’s available only for situations that are not addressed with these established options. 

Setting Up an Apple Enterprise Account

To get started with the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, you need to set up an Apple enterprise account. To do so, and to show that you meet the criteria mentioned above, you will need an Apple ID, a website, a legal entity, and a D-U-N-S Number (a Data Universal Numbering System 9-digit identifier with Dun & Bradstreet assigned to single business entities). 

The applicant must have the legal authority to apply, such as a founder, co-founder, executive team member, senior project lead, or have the authority granted by a senior employee. If you have enrolled in the Apple Developer Program with an Apple ID already, you need a different one to enroll in this program. Read through the “What You Need to Know” section on the website, and then it’s time to get started with your application.

  1. Go to: https://developer.apple.com/programs/enterprise/
  2. Click the “Start Your Enrollment” button.
  3. Confirm your Apple ID information, select your entity type, then click “Continue.”
  4. Select the authority option that applies to you to enroll your organization in the program.
  5. Complete your organization’s information, including legal entity name, D-U-N-S Number, website, headquarters phone number, number of employees, and your email. If your organization is a Mobile Device Management member, check the box. 
  6. Fill out the CAPTCHA and click “Continue.”

After you complete your application, Apple will contact you to verify your information. They will send a link for you to pay the $299 fee to finalize your enrollment. This Apple Enterprise Program fee is an annual cost. 

How To Submit an App to the Enterprise App Store

Once you’re approved, there is a 14-day waiting period before you will be able to create the files required for your account. The Apple Enterprise Program lets you create provisioning profiles and certificates to distribute your app by URL or an internal portal. Here is the process:

  1. Use an “In House” distribution certificate to sign up your app.
  2. Give your app an App ID.
  3. Link a push certificate to this App ID.
  4. Associate your “In House” provisioning profile with the App ID.

After you complete this process and your application is generated, you can manage its distribution through a secure server or a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

Distribute Your Enterprise App

Apple provides several options for distributing enterprise apps. The App Store, Apple Business Manager, or Ad Hoc Distribution will support your needs for many enterprise apps. However, if they don’t, the Apple Developer Enterprise Program is poised to support your needs.

Want to learn how we help our clients build custom enterprise applications? Get in touch!

You might also like:

Let's build together.

We'd love to hear about your product or idea.

Get in touch