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What's in store for enterprise apps

As consumer-focused public app stores become more secure and easier to use, they could become viable enterprise tools.

This month’s Deep Dive article explores the pros and cons of enterprise app stores. These portals let IT control which apps to make available to users, and they’re included in many mobility management products today.

But that’s not the only way to take advantage of an app store. Public app stores—including Google Play, Apple’s App Store and the Windows Store—are another option for deploying business software. Organizations can instruct users to access third-party apps from these stores; mobile apps for enterprise file-sharing services such as Box, for instance, are common for users to access in this fashion. (Read more about Box in this month’s App Spotlight.)

Organizations can also make their custom corporate apps available through public stores. This approach requires some additional steps. Developers must submit apps for beta testing and approval by the operating system manufacturer, which can take months depending on the store. Plus, there often isn’t an easy way for users to provide feedback to developers within the apps themselves. And once the app is available to users, IT must deal with the fact that it has less control over its update process. If users download apps from public app stores that aren’t IT-approved, they have little oversight into manageability and security as well.

Public app stores have made changes to alleviate some of those challenges and concerns. Apple iOS 10.3 allows developers to build automatic requests for reviews into their apps. That means organizations can get continuous, direct feedback. In addition, Apple in March added the ability for developers to respond to reviews, letting them engage even better with users.

Apple also said it would enforce an old rule that restricts developers from coding apps to be able to update outside of the App Store. Developers can no longer make configuration changes or deploy patches that bypass the App Store approval process. For its part, Google in April updated the Play Store interface to make it easier for users to find lesser-used apps and update all apps.

If IT departments don’t want to manage a private app store, there are plenty of ways to use public stores to deliver the apps users need.

This post originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Access Magazine.