Google is updating some features on its Google Play Store so enterprises can more easily use the app to distribute in-house and custom developed Android applications to their employees.
Google Play offers a so-called Private Channel feature that lets Google apps administrators host internal Android applications and control access to specific users or groups of users.
Organizations that set up a Private Channel on Google Play get additional benefits such as user authentication along with malware and virus detection.
The updates announced this week will become available Jan. 31 and are designed to make enterprise applications distributed through Play Store more easily discoverable and accessible to end users.
For instance, private apps will be relocated from the spot where they are currently located in Google Play to the “Work Apps” section of Play that is easier and quicker for users to navigate to. The same section will also contain all applications—both public and private—that the organization might be managing with an enterprise mobility management suite.
“Our vision for “Work Apps” within Google Play is for it to become the single destination for corporate users to find all of the applications they need,” Google said. “[Google] admins will be able to offer a curated set of both public and private applications specific to your enterprise for your employees.”
The scheduled update will also consolidate the controls for managing private and publicly available apps within Play Private Channel. Among other benefits, the consolidation will make it easier for administrators to create whitelists of mobile applications that are approved for use in the enterprise, Google said in its announcement.
Organizations that have not previously used Google Play Private Channel to distribute enterprise applications will need to first enroll with an enterprise mobility management tool, including Google’s own mobile management technology, according to the company.
Google Play Private Channel currently can only be used to distribute internally developed Android enterprise applications on Android devices. Enterprises cannot use the feature to distribute either commercial or in-house applications running on other platforms. As with commercial applications on Play, enterprises have the option of charging for applications that they publish to the Private Channel.
The scheduled updates continue the string of mostly incremental improvements that Google has been making to its enterprise mobility management products and services over the past 18 months or so.
Last October for instance, Google introduced a new enrollment feature for letting administrators enroll Android mobile devices in bulk with all required security settings enforced. Google also announced updates to its mobile inventory management capabilities at the same time.
Google has made similar tweaks to its Admin console for managing Android devices so users can more easily set-up and provision their devices in the workplace.