Apple’s App Store is both a source of immense power for the business and a cause of frustration for anybody attempting to do anything other than download pre-approved programs. Businesses, for example, have long been able to use developer accounts to run internal applications, but as Facebook discovered, Apple frequently operates in weird and unexpected ways.
An Apple Support document detailing the procedure for organizations, developers, and anybody else that seeks to distribute unlisted programs using merely a link, that might all change.
Developers may request an unlisted app from Apple, which will not display in the App Store’s search suggestions, categories, charts, or anywhere else. The Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager services may be used to access unlisted applications.
Unlisted applications, according to Apple, are designed for special events, organizations, research initiatives, and employee tools (eg, for sales). The applications will be accessible in all App Store-enabled territories.
Whereas the addition of unlisted applications as a distribution option for developers is welcome news, particularly for organizations searching for a legal means to distribute properly-made apps, there are certain disadvantages, as developer Steve Troughton-Smith has pointed out.
Unlisted apps sounds like it could be neat, but it looks like it has some big caveats. Also doesn’t seem like my Individual developer account is authorized to request an unlisted link. Business-only?“Note: Once your app is approved, the distribution method cannot be changed.” https://t.co/o34hB1v8VRJanuary 28, 2022
According to Apple, unlisted applications must be ready for distribution, eliminating beta and pre-release versions, and anything that does not follow these guidelines will be rejected.
The business currently runs TestFlight, a developer-only tool for testing iOS and iPadOS applications, and it’s unlikely that there would be too much overlap between the two services.
All of this may contribute to the broader narrative about the App Store, which has been articulated by different rivals, the EU, the United Kingdom, and certain American lawmakers: Apple has too much control over what consumers can do with their iPhones.
Although unlisted applications are meant to be beneficial – and they will be for many businesses and developers – they do emphasize Apple’s monopoly on app distribution on its platforms.