The market is flooded with consumer apps of all types, sectors and sizes, but 2017 seems to be the year of enterprise apps. Recent research suggests the enterprise mobility market size is expected to grow from $35.10 billion in 2016 to $73.30 billion by 2021. Organizations and employees alike need more mobility and mobile-first solutions. In the age of mobility and BYOD, enterprise apps are relatively standard across businesses.

However, there is a critical difference between enterprise apps for public consumption and those meant for internal, business-use only. The latter category apps are distributed differently and not via the conventional route of apps stores. There are many ways in which various operating systems enable enterprise app distribution. Since iOS software development is one of the most popular choices with organisations, we will look at the enterprise app distribution for the iOS ecosystem:

Enterprise App Distribution for iOS
As mentioned above, individual apps or in-house apps are used only within the organisation. They are not intended to published on various App Store. There are many ways to publish iOS apps without using the App Store.

Method 1: Ad-hoc Distribution
For iOS app ad hoc publishing, you need to create a provisioning profile register the test devices with the Apple developer account (The US $99 per year) before distribution. You also need to get a Unique Device Identifier (UDID) for each device to be able to register the test devices. To find your device’s UDID, use this Once you have identified the UDID, you need to add the tools to the Apple developer account. Now develop the apps and archive them to have a .ipa file. Next, open the Archives Organizer and choose the archive, click the Export button and select the Save for Ad-hoc deployment option. The app will now be assigned the distribution certificate. Next, it is time to choose a team. At this point, the Xcode creates a provisioning profile by default. You can install the app on test devices using any of the three methods listed below.

Using Xcode:

-Connect your device to any Mac OS X device or computer.

-Within Xcode, select Devices from Window, then choose the device.

-You will be able to see the “Installed Apps” table. Click on the + button and select the iOS app that needs to be configured.

With Apple Configurator 2:

-Connect your device to a Mac OS X device or computer.

-Open Apple Configurator 2 and connect an iPhone paired with an Apple Watch to install WatchOS apps.

-Select the device and choose Apps from the menu that opens when you click the + button.

-Now click on “Choose from my Mac” and select the .ipa file.

-Click Add.

Using iTunes:

-Connect your device to a computer or device with Mac OS X and open iTunes. Connect an iPhone or iPad paired with an Apple Watch, to install WatchOS apps.

-Choose the .ipa file and using iTunes choose the device name that appears in the upper-left corner of the window. Use the Apps button to find the app that needs to be installed and then install. Now click the Apply or Sync button to complete syncing.

Method 2: TestFlight Beta Testing
The TestFlight service is provided by Apple to install mobile apps over-the-air (OTA) and test them. You can access TestFlight if you have an Apple Developer Program account ($99 per year).

Create an account with TestFlight, add a new team, give it an apt name and then add your team members.
Once done, upload the .ipa file to TestFlight. You can invite the testers via email to test the app. To be able to check the app, inspectors will need to accept the email. If they do not have the TestFlight app downloaded already, the mail will provide a prompt to download. There are two types of testers – external and internal. If the app requires distribution for testing, then it is mandatory that Apple review the app before trial. Internal inspectors, on the other hand, can test the app before the Apple review.

There are many benefits to using this system. You can create groups of external testers for different apps. The apps are instantly available for internal use when the app is added to TestFlight. 25 internal examiners are permitted per app, and each user can test the app on ten different devices. It also allows up to 2000 external testers. Groups can be added to include external examiners for various apps. There is also no need to track UDID or provisioning profiles.

However, what if you do not have a developer account. There is a workaround that lets you use your Apple ID instead of developer ID to build and deploy apps on devices using Xcode 7. You merely need to download and install Xcode 7 on Mac OS X. Open Xcode 7, click on Accounts, and add a personal Apple ID.

When exporting the app to the device, you can use the particular ID to sign the provisioning certificate. It is possible to route your enterprise app distribution bypassing the App Store, using any of the above methods. Have you used any of these techniques before? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Author's Bio: 

Kaushal Shah manages digital marketing communications for the enterprise technology services provided by Rishabh Software. This article is created to showcase the importance of enterprise app distribution.