Apple adds new option to distribute iOS apps. Previously, developers were able to use public App Store, use Custom App distribution (to Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager connected organizations) or use Enterprise Developer Program and handle distribution internally.

All of these methods had their pros and cons, and limitations.

Now Apple introduces new option – Unlisted app distribution. This option provides a way of distribution via App Store without limiting your app availability to specific organizations, but app also is not presented in search results, charts, recommendations and could be discovered only by direct link.

These apps could be used by Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager deployments.

Apps for specific organizations, special events, or research studies, or apps used as employee resources or sales tools are good candidates for unlisted distribution.

Apple Developer

In order to distribute apps via this option, Account Holder should request the link via special form.

Apps distributed via this approach will follow App Store review according to App Store Review Guidelines. However, it is expected, that some sections will not be applicable – such as account registration or “guest” access in the same way as in Custom App distribution.

Please note that unlisted apps must be ready for final distribution. Requests for apps in a beta or pre-release state will be declined.

Apple Developer

Unlisted apps could be accessed by anyone with the link, so app should have proper authorization mechanisms in place.

Apple Developer: Unlisted app distribution

Unlisted app distribution request form: Unlisted App Request

Recommendations

Developer:

Business as usual.

QA engineer:

Business as usual.

PM/DM:

Consult with stakeholders on new distribution option, consider switching to unlisted app distribution approach.

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