Android devices are proving to be worthy competition for Apple’s lineup of chart topping gadgets. A big part of their success can be attributed to the app craze that has become popular with consumers and businesses alike. On that note, savvy IT departments are starting to learn that apps not only provide a way to connect with customers, but streamline an array of internal processes as well. All Android users have been missing is a reliable way to distribute those applications to the internal parties that need them.
Google Play, Google’s online marketplace for Android apps, is growing by leaps and bounds. The latest growth spurt came in the form a new service that allows businesses to distribute their
apps directly to employees. Called Google Play Private Channel, this addition acts as an internal solution organizations can use to provide team members with convenient access to mission-critical applications. The new service should come in handy for companies with reporting tools and other apps that call for employee participation.
The Google App Connection
Google Play Private Channels are directly connected to Google App. In fact, an organization must be set up with a domain on Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government in order to use the service. Apps administrators have full control as they are responsible for activating the Google Play Developer Console, which lets registered employees start publishing and using apps internally. Administrators also have the power to use the Private Channel in Google Play to download apps to internal systems.
According to Google the new Private Channels has no affect on existing Google Play features. And the addition of new features gives this service even greater value to businesses. The most notable enhancements were made on the security front. Google Play Private Channels are equipped with the ability to detect viruses and other malware as well as user authentication. Other noteworthy features include device targeting and a user rating system.
Drawbacks to Consider
The new Google Play service is a tremendous luxury for businesses that collaborate through apps, but there are some limitations. For instance, organizations are only permitted to have one private channel. The channel must have the same name as the name connected to the organization’s Google Apps domain. Another limitation is that there is currently no way to distribute apps to specific groups, which are common in many companies. However, availability can be filtered by country or device model via the Google Play Developer Console.
It is also important to note that Private Channels are not accessible through a web browser. At the moment, they are only visible on Android devices. Once apps have been uploaded via the Google Play Developer’s Console, employees can access them by using the email address associated with their Google Apps account and use their Android device to navigate to the channel and access the application. While the service does not currently support web browsing, this could change with future updates.
The Growing Demand for Internal Apps
More organizations are looking at internal apps as a way to bolster their mobile operations. The concept really became attractive when companies began to realize that creating a solid app doesn’t require a Fortune 500 IT budget. Whether it’s through the work of internal development resources or third-party developers, it is very possible design in-house programs that are tailored to meet the specific needs of the mobile workforce and the company as a whole. The biggest problem with this concept has been having a secure way to share these apps internally.
With the Private Channels feature in Google Play, Google is giving Apps customers a way to publish and distribute their applications in secure fashion. Having to make an internal app publicly available is risky business due to the fact that it exposes an organization to malware, hackers, and various other security threats. Unfortunately, this is what companies using Android devices previously had to deal with. Thanks to Private Channels, they no longer have to worry about such security and privacy concerns.
What Google is doing with Google Play Private Channels isn’t exactly new territory. In fact, Apple has been giving its developers the ability to distribute apps internally for years. Microsoft also did something similar when it began selling apps for the Windows 7 platform. Regardless of who is the real innovator, Private Channels is a nice touch for organizations looking for a more secure way to share apps on the inside.
Author: Aidan Hijleh – Follow him on Google+.