Business & Enterprise Apps Q&A

Apps can be a powerful tool for your company—whether you use them as a tool for your employees to access information or make presentations, or whether they’re part of your external marketing strategy, delivering content to your customers to deepen loyalty. According to Gartner, 25 percent of companies will have their own app store for internal apps by 2017.

Here are some of the most commonly answered questions about using apps for your company:

What is an enterprise app?

“Enterprise App” can be a confusing term. Sometimes it’s used to refer to any app made for business. But it also has a very specific meaning in the iOS world: an app that can be distributed internally without being posted in the iTunes App Store. The ability to make and distribute this kind of app requires a unique Apple Developer license called an Enterprise Developer License.

Great. How do I get an Enterprise Developer Account?

You can apply for an Enterprise Developer Account online. In general, Apple requires that your company have a Dunn & Bradstreet number and provide documentation verifying that you represent that company. A company can typically have only one Enterprise Developer account; so if you think another department in your organization may have already created an internal app, check before you apply. The approval process for your developer account can take anywhere from days to weeks, so it’s best to apply as soon as you’re thinking about making an enterprise app. The license costs $399/year.

I’ve got my account. Now what?

Once you have an enterprise developer account, you can use mag+ to create your enterprise app. It will function just like any other app—the only difference is that you can distribute it internally within the bounds of your Apple terms of service. All our same pricing, customization and feature options apply.

Who am I allowed to distribute my Enterprise distribution app to?

iOS enterprise apps can only be distributed to employees of your company or members of your organization. You cannot distribute them to customers or clients. What happens if you cheat? Apple can pull your developer account and ban you from creating iOS apps.

So, how do I actually get my app onto my employees’ devices?

There are a number of ways to distribute an enterprise app. The app file (called a .ipa) has to be hosted somewhere. When users download it to their device, it has to come with a little file that tells the device its okay to install it. You do not need to register the devices beforehand. You can do something as simple as posting it on a page in your intranet or hosting it on Dropbox. What most companies do is use some kind of Mobile Device Management (MDM) service. These are third party solutions that help you manage your employees’ devices, doing everything from remotely controlling settings to remote installing and uninstalling apps. Here is a comparison chart. And here is a link to Apple’s page about MDM.

What about Android?

iOS apps can only be distributed one of two ways: to everyone via the iTunes app store or only internally via the enterprise developer license. Android apps, on the other hand, can be distributed however you like. Android devices can install apps that are downloaded from a web site or attached to an email. In addition, Google offers private distribution via the Google Play app store—you can set up an app portal that only your company can see. Learn more about Google Play private distribution.

Can I control what employees see what content?

Absolutely. Via our free included Entitlements API, you can add a login window to the app. That login is a log in to your system, not a mag+ system. You maintain your user database; you control what the login is and what that window looks like. Once the user logs in, you simply return to the app a list of issues that user is entitled to. If you don’t have the in-house capability to manage that user list and entitlements, we have a simple web-based system that allows you to enter users manually or upload a spreadsheet of users anytime.

I want my app to go to clients, so I can’t use Enterprise distribution. What are my other options?

In iOS, you can create a public app, but hide all the necessary content behind a login, as described above. The only Apple rule is that you provide some content for everyone—perhaps an issue about your company or a marketing brochure. Apple just doesn’t like apps that have no purpose unless you’re signed in.

Can I make a Newsstand app for my company?

Yes. Any app that offers a subscription can be a Newsstand app, including enterprise apps.

I already have an app – can I just add mag+ to it?

Yes! That’s what our mag+ App SDK is for. That allows you to take the core components of the mag+ reader and build them into another app as an additional function, or to build your own custom reader app around it, with your own issue library, interface and features.

Great, I’m sold. But I don’t have designers in house. Can mag+ help?

Yes! mag+ handles the creative work for a number of organizations and can quote you a price based on your needs. We can even assist you in figuring out the best use of mag+ within your organization.

I’ve got an idea for a custom build or implementation into our company. Can you guys help us out?

I bet we can. We have done custom development supporting unique uses for mag+ for major companies. Give us a call—we’d love to hear your idea and talk about how we can help.

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