Apple’s App Store will now allow developers to display their apps that aren’t suited for public distribution and have been discoverable only with a direct link.
Apple foresees that the ability to unlist apps could be used for exciting purposes such as hiding a company’s employee app or their sales tools. The company wrote on its developers’ website:
“Unlisted apps don’t appear in any App Store categories, recommendations, charts, search results, or other listings. They can also be accessed through Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager. Apps for specific organizations, special events, or research studies, or apps used as employee resources or sales tools are good candidates for unlisted distribution.”
App developers want as many people downloading and using their app as possible. Developers can now select who can use these apps, so that they will guard their apps against the wave of interlopers who would otherwise rush to install them. Developers will now be able to distribute their apps to:
- Limited audiences, including part-time employees, franchisees, partners, business affiliates, higher-education students, or conference attendees via a standard link that’s usable on the App Storeand Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager.
- Employee-owned devices that aren’t eligible to be managed through Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager.
- All regions that are supported by the App Store.
Requesting an unlisted app link
In order to unlist an app, developers have to receive a specific link after submitting a request. If their app hasn’t been submitted for review or was already approved for public download on the App Store, they should complete the request form. Otherwise, if the app has been already approved for private download on either Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager, they will need to create a new app record in App Store Connect, upload their binary, and set the distribution method to Public before completing the request form. After the approval of the request, the app’s distribution method will change to Unlisted App in the Pricing and Availability section of the app record. This will apply to any future versions of the app.
NOTE: Developers have to be sure that unlisted apps must be ready for final distribution. Requests for apps in a beta or prerelease state will be declined.
Distributing unlisted app
After getting an approval, developers will receive a link that can be used to access their app on the App Store and on Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager. If their app is already available on the App Store, its current link will remain the same.
NOTE:Unlisted apps are available to anyone who has access to the link. Developers are required to consider implementing a mechanism within their app to prevent unauthorized use.