Computer and mobile applications are the most common type of apps we're familiar with. However, distributed system apps also take a prominent position when looked from a business perspective. If you're a new enterprise and want to ensure a successful business campaign, following the best business practices is a good idea. Basically, those are in place due to their high level of success rate. Although they may seem as both costly and unnecessary at first glance, they will provide a much-improved result in the long term. To ensure your business is on par with modern enterprise practices, you've to employ some sort of professional standards regarding how you develop and distribute your app. In today's post, we will go over the different aspects of using the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, designed for only Apple devices. Apple is the first choice of many developers around the world, thanks to its awe-inspiring vibrant design philosophies and a guarantee of gaining optimal performances. Even most developers at both Google and Microsoft are reported to be using the MacBook as their primary development system. Chances are most of your own developers already have many different Apple devices. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is a software platform designed for the development and distribution of various proprietary applications for Apple devices. These are not limited to MacOS apps; you can use this program to develop apps for iOS, tvOS, and watchOS also. Below we'll go through why as an enterprise you should opt-in for using this program. Stay with us to learn the ins and outs of this enterprise development solution.
Apple Developer Enterprise Program: Overview
It is a software bundle that can be used to distribute enterprise applications on the devices of your company's employees. The application can itself be as unique as possible. If your developers can build the app, they can use the Apple Developer Enterprise Solution to distribute on different devices easily. This gives development teams the ability to seamlessly use the features of a new app while creating the app itself. It enables your company to cross-check various vulnerabilities directly at the development stage of your app. Apple has reported a booming increase in revenue just by selling this enterprise bundle. Organizations across the globe are finding this developer program rewarding and incorporate this program to increase the productivity of their developers. The original scheme behind this program is to let you create and securely distribute applications for your organization's internal use. They achieve this by incorporating unique elements such as profiling, and certifications. Apple Developer Enterprise Program is the perfect solutions for developers who develop mainly for Apple systems like the Mac or iPhone. They let developers the luxury of premium Apple tools and ecosystem to help them provide a much more robust and user-friendly application.
What You Get with the Bundle
The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is equipped to develop and distribute apps for any of Apple's platforms. You can host your apps securely and distribute themselves internally in any way that you like. Plug-ins and installers for Mac's can be code-signed and certificated internally. This will give your developers access to new app features without having to worry about leaks or spoilers. The bundle gives you the full access to Apple's developments software, various resources, and development tools, access to beta software, certifications that include both identifiers and profiles for code-signing and device provision. The program also allows you to link up push notifications to your app.
Managing Development with Apple Developer Enterprise Program
This program lets you manage the development of your application very efficiently. It treats your organization as a team. You can assign roles to your employees which gives you the ability to distribute their positions in an organized way and enhance productivity. There are 3 different types of roles including an agent, admins, and members. You'll need to set up the team agent account with the Apple ID you used to register for the enterprise program. This account also controls the overall activity of your organization's account. You can transfer the agent role to another person for your convenience. Admins and members can be selected by using this team agent account. Only the agent and admin accounts can assign any newly developed app and they do not require additional permissions for these tasks. These roles are also used in the creation of the app service provision. The team agent account is responsible for registering and controlling the test devices.
From the Admin's Point of View
If you're not too much literate over technical terms, you may find it hard to distinguish the exact workings of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. From an administrator's point of view, the program just basically does the following.
Once you've done with the generation of a download page for the app, you need to communicate with your end users by means of either a download page or portal.
- You or the administrators use an organizational distribution certificate for signing up the app
- Provide an app id for your app
- You can link push notifications with your app
- You need to associate organizational and provisional profiles along the app id
From a Client Perspective
If interested, your users will go to the download link you provided and would opt-in for downloading the app. A pop-up link will appear on the user's screen, and it will ask them to confirm whether they want to install the app on their device or not. If reinforced positively, the app will start to get installed. When users launch the app for the first time, another pop-up will appear which will ask them if they trust you, aka the distributor. This is integrated into every Apple devices for making sure that users do not download and install malicious software from unauthorized distributors. Users can confirm this to make the app usable like any other native iOS app by going to the menu Settings > General > Profiles and Device Management in their iOS device and selecting your organization as trusted. This, in turn, will let every future app from your organization to be installed without any further prompts or dialogs.
Managing the Distribution Of Your App
You can control the distribution of the app by simply hosting the binary application file into a server. It's a file that ends in a .ipa filename extension. Go to the menu Publish> Submission>iOS(for mobile apps). After that, you need to create a manifest for your app. A manifest for an app is just a file which has all the necessary information or metadata associated with your application such as build date, version, last update date, etc. These manifest documents are usually XML files with a .plist extension. You can create these by yourself or may even employ another independent service for the job. Then, you'd need to create a web page which has the link to the manifest document. At last, when the manifest file is securely hosted on a server, create a web page to promote the link of your application.
The Apple Developer Enterprise Edition will cost your organization $299/year. It'll be added to the standard full membership cost of the Apple Developer Program, which is $99/year. You can use a single program for creating 3 different developer accounts. All accounts can be used to develop and distribute an unlimited number of apps for different platforms. Different accounts will come in handy if your organization create different and new kinds of applications. Each membership plan is for 3 years. After that period, your users will not be able to download the app if you do not renew your package.
Necessary Documents for Joining the Enterprise Program
You will need three things to join this enterprise distribution scheme. They are respectively an Apple ID, the right to sign legal documents on behalf of your company, and a D-U-N-S number. The Apple ID can be your personal or the company's itself. The second document which allows you the authority to sign financial records must be a legal entity itself. A D-U-N-S number or Data Universal Numbering System is a unique number that is used for detecting and identifying businesses on a location-based basis. It's been provided by the company Dun & Bradstreet and is around since the year 1961. However, if you're in business for some time now, chances are your company already has this number. So, you need to carefully check it before signing up for a new number yourself.
Why use Apple Developer Enterprise Program?
You might be asking yourself why should you get the enterprise program alongside the standard Apple Developer Program. Is it worth the money? The answer is obvious; else we'd not be writing this article in the first place. The enterprise program makes the development and distribution of your app a breeze. It gives you the ability to use cutting-edge Apple technologies to build next-generation apps for your business. This program lets you develop engaging apps that transform workflows, and boost employee productivity at the same time. When building apps for an enterprise, it is important that your apps integrate seamlessly with enterprise systems. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program provides you the access to a set of comprehensive tools that enables you to build both user and enterprise-friendly apps without any extra redundancies. This program is excellent at ensuring a smooth connection between different business processes and the back-end of your app. You can directly upload to data servers, control the response caching, and manage the cookie storage with the help of this program. The access to modernize development tools makes the whole development process much more comfortable and natural for developers, in turn boosting their productivity to the maximum level. The program fluently achieves its main target, developing and distributing enterprise apps without publishing them to the app store.
Best Features of the Enterprise Program
- Apple Pay: It allows the users of your app to pay for different goods and services by utilizing the payment information saved in their device
- Background Mode: Gives your apps the ability to run while in the background
- CloudKit: This enables your app to share user data between multiple instances of the same app running in different devices.
- Inter-App Audio: It gives your enterprise app the ability to export audio files for other apps to use
- Keychain String: Apps can share any shared passwords between different apps from the same organization
- Maps: Easy access and display of map data for using in the native Maps or other application
- Personalized VPN: This can be used to create custom VPN configurations for secure network connections
- Wireless Accessory Configuration: Provides easy and hassle-free access to MFi Wi-Fi accessories like AirPlay devices
Although great at developing and distributing apps for enterprise users, the Apple Developer enterprise Program has its own share of drawbacks. As of writing this post, the enterprise program does not have any form of elevated permission mechanism to access either the NFC or RFID. If your enterprise app requires such connectivities, you're bound to use 3rd party accessories. Plus, the cost can be an issue if you're a starting company and do not have a valid idea about where your business is going to be in the next couple of years. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program can be a valuable addition to your development team if you're building proprietary apps and want to distribute them independently of the Apple App store. It gives you access to numerous cutting-edge development tools from Apple, which can increase the time to production by significant factors. With this program, you have the power to distribute the app any way you like. The program is particularly best suited for developing and distributing Apple applications for a selected segment of enterprise users.