How Do I Get My Apps In The Hands Of My Users?

So you’ve created an app. What next?

The next step will be getting your app in the hands of your intended audience. But how do you go about doing this?

There are several options available, but at its most basic these are two: public app stores or enterprise app stores.

how to share apps

Public app stores

Public app stores are best suited for apps intended for public audiences, such as customers.

If you have a customer-facing app, then a public app store will be not only the easiest way to share it but also the most effective, as anyone will have access to it.

Public app stores are also brilliant app distribution services, as they make them highly visible to a great number of users. Putting your app in the app store therefore gives you instant visibility in the marketplace.

Public app stores can be used to share enterprise apps too, but it is important to bear in mind that anyone with a mobile device will be able to access the app, whether they work at your company or not. So, if the app contains sensitive information, putting it up on a public app store may not be the best idea.

However, there are ways to make the information contained within your app accessible only to certain users, which could be the perfect solution.

Submitting your app to the Apple App Store

The Apple App Store caters for the great number of iOS devices available, from iPhones to iPads.

To submit your app to the App Store, you need to:

  1. Ensure your app has been tested
  2. Create an iOS Developer license ($99/year)
  3. Prepare and package your app
  4. Get your developers to prepare the app and wrap it up into an IPA
  5. Prepare your app listing information on iTunes Connect
  6. Upload your app
  7. Your app review process will take between 7 – 15 days

Some important things to consider about the Apple App Store:

  • Your app will be available for anyone to download unless you’ve configured it in the app store to be available only for certain regions. But within those regions it will still available to anyone.
  • If you care about security but you do want people to easily download the app from the App Store, an option is to add password security to the app.
  • If you charge a price for the app, 30% of the revenue will go to Apple.
  • The app submission process can take a long time for first-timers because Apple take their time to approve your account.

how to share apps

Submitting your app to the Google Play Store

The Google Play Store caters for all Android devices, from smartphones to tablets.

To submit your app to the Google Play Store, you need to:

  1. Ensure your app has been tested
  2. Create a Developer account with Google ($25 one-off payment). You will need a Gmail account for this.
  3. Prepare and package your app
  4. Get your developers to prepare the app and wrap it up into an APK
  5. Prepare your app listing information on Google’s Developer Console
  6. Upload your app
  7. Your app review process may take a couple of hours

how to share apps

Enterprise app stores

Many companies opt for using enterprise app stores to distribute their app. This is the case mostly when the apps are internal rather than customer-facing.

The main advantage of enterprise app stores is that they allow apps to be accessed and downloaded only in-house, preventing anyone external to the company from accessing them.

On the other hand, this also poses some restrictions by making the apps less accessible to employees too, who will be unable to find the app with a simple search on Google Play or the App Store.

Enterprise app stores are best suited for apps that contain sensitive information. The app can still contain additional security within, but this may not be necessary if the app is only accessible via a private enterprise app store.

Enterprise app stores have the added benefit of grouping all enterprise apps of a firm together, so that employees can easily find out all apps that are available to them in one place.

Submitting your app to an enterprise app store

For enterprise app stores, the app submission process will vary depending on your MDM (Mobile Device Management) system. Some MDMs have strict security requirements when it comes to developing and packaging, while others don’t.

However, the first two steps for submitting your app will be similar to those covered for public app stores:

  1. Ensure your app has been tested
  2. Prepare and package your app, whether in an IPA (iOS) or an APK (Android)

After that, the process varies and will depend on your MDM, so you should refer to the set process of your MDM.

There are also some existing platforms that allow you to build your own app store on top of them, both for iOS and Android:

iOS Developer Enterprise Program

The iOS Developer Enterprise Program allows you to create an enterprise app store not accessible by the public.

The usual app review process, which normally takes between one and two weeks, is not necessary for this. This allows for your company to distribute your own apps directly ‘in-house’.

The license to use the iOS Developer Enterprise Program costs $299 per year and the platform is intended only for employees of the licensed company.

Android Private App Stores

Android Private App Stores, on the other hand, are very similar to the usual Google Play store, except that they are completely inaccessible by the public.

Google offers the option to create these private app stores on top of their Play marketplace, but limited to private apps.

This means that the app store looks and feels exactly like the regular Google Play store, a great benefit for the audience’s ease of use.

It also means that audiences can use the regular Google Play search features, such as the discovery tool, but limited to the company’s enterprise apps.

However, Android Private App Stores are only available to companies using ‘Google Apps for Work’, Google’s suite productivity and collaboration tools.

In conclusion

Whether your app is internal or customer-facing, there are several options available to easily share it among your intended audience.

For iOS enterprise apps, choosing between distributing password-protected apps in public app stores or going for enterprise app stores instead will be a key decision.

Customer apps, on the other hand, will be best positioned to thrive in the high visibility of the public app store marketplaces, but in the case of the iOS App Store the app distribution process may be longer than anticipated.

Whatever platform is selected, however, app stores are the best platforms and indeed tools available to share your apps among your target audience.