Is it possible to develop private apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android?

With "private apps" I mean apps that do not appear on the public app store, but can be downloaded and used only by selected clients.

  • Look at the enterprise iOS developer program... and ask Apple. And nothing says you need to put any app in the google store (you can always distribute manually).
    – user40980
    Feb 18, 2014 at 19:05
  • So, is my understanding correct that it's possible to develop apps for Android and do not distribute them in Google App Store, but just deploy them on Android devices (without any control from Google); instead ANY app for iPhone/iPad must be previously approved by Apple, and to distribute it privately one must enroll in iOS Enterprise Developer program and pay $299/year?
    – Mr.C64
    Feb 18, 2014 at 19:51
  • That sounds correct. Though I'm not sure if the enterprise account needs apple approval for apps - thats an ask Apple thing.
    – user40980
    Feb 18, 2014 at 19:56
  • 1
    I often just email Android .apk files to people for testing. Very easy to do. Its just like sending someone a Windows .exe. Feb 18, 2014 at 20:16
  • 1
    @GrandmasterB with all the security risks that entails. Feb 18, 2014 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


Most Android devices can install application simply by opening an apk file in the browser. You can use self-signed certificates, so no problem there.

It's more difficult with iOS applications. Everything you do there must go through Apple. Apple development site has lots of information about the different ways to do that but mostly it reduces to the following 3 types of distribution.

  1. App store - the usual way to distribute Requires going through App store approval.
  2. App store using B2B program - you can distribute to specific companies using App store. Requires going through App store approval.
  3. Apple Enteprise distribution - apps can be installed from any web site but license forbids you to install them on devices not owned by your enteprise (or something similar). Basically usable only when developer company = customer company. Note there are no automatic updates when new version is released. Doesn't go through App store approval so even private APIs are possible.

You can develop and distribute private apps among selected clients.

In iOS, ad-hoc distribution is there, but you'll need to hook up your mobile device to a Mac OSX. Ad-hoc distribution is possible through Xcode, iTunes and Configurator. There are other methods that allows you to deploy apps remotely.

VPP for Business: You can develop apps with your developer account. While distributing, yo'll need to choose an option to distribute the app privately. Now, provide the VPP Apple ID of those (Organization) you need to send apps.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) software: MAM and MDM software allows you to bulk push apps to devices (apps from App Store can also be pushed). You'll need to enable supervision to silent push apps to devices. For that, you need either a (Device Enrollment Program) DEP account or Apple Configurator 2. DEP needs D-U-N-S number and Apple Configurator needs you to hook up your device with a computer running Mac OSX.

In Android, develop and upload any app to, say, a website, just turn on "Unknown Sources" in settings, download the app and install it right away. You have two other options too.

Google Play for Work: This is a private store where you can add your private apps to. In the Play for Work console, just add the persons you need to download the app, and they'll be able to download these apps from Google Play installed on their device.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) software: MAM and MDM software allows you to bulk push apps to devices (apps from App Store can also be pushed).

  • Where exactly do you add employees in the console? It's only got an option for organizations from what I can see? Thanks
    – arao6
    Mar 14, 2019 at 22:03

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