Mountain View, California - In surprising move to expand its services, search engine giant Google has finally introduced a way for companies to create a private app store for businesses to host and distribute custom-built Android apps internally, a capability available to Apple iOS developers for several years.
Google Apps for Business was one of the first serious challengers to Microsoft's dominion over the Enterprise market. It has reportedly been pretty successful thus far with Google announcing that 5 million businesses, 45 states and 66 of the top 100 universities have all made the switch to Google Apps. Now the company is adding expanded mobile support into the mix.
Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government domains can now have a Private Channel on the Google Play Store. Adopting the new service would seamlessly allow enterprise and governmental firms to upload custom-built apps into a private Android Marketplace that requires a company email address and password. Google Play's Private Channels is the search giant's latest attempt to get Android in the hands of enterprise users.
Elaborating on the service's traits, the company said, “Whether you have built a custom expense reporting app for employees or a conference room finder, the Google Play Private Channel is smartly configured to make your organization's internal apps quick and easy for employees to find,” wrote product manager for the Google Play Ellie Powers in a blog post.
Surprisingly though, it is worth noting that there are some limitations. Each organization using Google Apps is allowed only one Private Channel: even if your Google Apps account is setup with multiple domains, you can only have one channel for your entire organization. Administrators allowing users (must be on the same domain) to register with the Android Developer Console, who in turn can publish Android apps to the Private Channel.
Going forward, if you are a Google Apps administrator, here is how you can activate the Private Channel on the Google Apps control panel. Sign in to your control panel, go to “Organizations & Users,” click on Services, and finally turn on the “Google Play Developer Console” for the users who will be publishing apps. Under Settings, choose Mobile. From there you can manage access to the Private Channel by organizational unit, giving you granular control over who has access.
Fortunately, if you are an employee at an organization that is adopting the Private Channel service and want to publish apps, you need to first register with Google Play as regular Google Play apps publishers on the Google Play Developer Console. Your administrator will probably create a dedicated account for publishing apps to the Private Channel, so he or she can retain access to published apps in case you leave the organization.
This is just an initial release. Now those interested in setting up a Private Channel on Google Play can read all the technical specifics here.