When it comes to distributing internal software, most companies have a few options: email, shared accounts on things like Box, or websites that specialize in private content sharing. Now, though, Google is making it easy for Google Apps users to easily, privately, and securely share their internal applications though the new Play Store Private Channel.

Basically, this creates a personal section of the Play Store that is only accessible when users log in with their Apps email address and browse the Private Channel. The channel is available for Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government users, and apps can be loaded through the Developer Console by the account owner, much like new apps are uploaded to the public Play Store. This makes it easy to not only spread internal applications, but also to ensure that all users are using the most recent version of the app.


To set up the Private Channel, the Apps admin should simply log in to the control panel, and head into the organizations & users > Services menu and activate the Play Store Developer console for the appropriate users. From there, the Private Channel can be enabled in the Settings > Mobile menu and opt-in to the feature.

[Google Enterprise Blog]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Paul_Werner

    I think it'd be real nice if this gets used by carriers to throw their bloatware for customers so they don't pre-fill phones with it. So glad I ordered the Nexus 4 a week ago so I don't have to deal with this once it ships

    • http://twitter.com/Xeratun Xeratun

      That, unfortunately, would not work for this. This is only for Google Apps users. For that to work Verizon (for example) would have to use Google Apps and give every customer a company account.

      • Nevi_me

        Not if the Play Store department adds such feature. It is not so practical though cos if you switch sim cards Play Store identifies you as from another carrier, so that might be a downside with the approach

        • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

          Too bad there's only a country-specific filter and not a carrier-specific filter. That could be useful to filter and categorize apps made by and for a specific carrier.

  • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

    I think the admin won't be very happy that in order to distribute an internal application to his internal employees, he has to upload it to an external server outside his local network.

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      It's not like it is mandatory to use that. The admin could still send the APK file, but this methods has other drawbacks (ie: no automatic update, has to enable the option to install from unknown sources so a potential security threat, etc).

      • digi_owl

        Could this be used to push a company "updater" that would download and maintain APKs from a company internal server without triggering the "unknown source" warning?

        • Nevi_me

          I think so, but what's stopping the company from installing a single 'updater' app, and then pushing the updates w/out using Play Channel? (unless I don't understand you :) )

          • digi_owl

            Best i can tell, if i use "unknown sources" to install the Amazon app store and then turn "unknown sources" back off i get a dialog every time i try to use Amazon to install something. I was wondering if that dialog would go away if Amazon or the equivalent was installed via this private channel.

    • Jay T

      I, personally, would feel more secure having internal apps distributed via play, then having them distributed via email/drop box/Samba Server.

      • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

        Me too, of course, but unfortunately it is not based on feelings, but on what the company security policy allows.

        • Jay T

          Yeah, I know. I work in IT for a large company, so we have lots of security policies, which rule out both Dropbox and GPlay. However, in my personal experience, I find that they are often so strict as to be unusable, and the result is people end up circumventing the policies in ways that are very insecure.

          • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

            Can't agree more :)

  • HellG

    God dang it, i thought its a way to share paid apps with testers from the playstore without giving them the APK, just like private limited access, pft :(

    • BraydenJames

      You could use it that way, but you'd have to set up a google apps domain and give them each a test email account to put on their phone.

      • HellG

        Nice, but dont you think its just a "little bit" too much for something that is supposed to be simple? specially if you have a sh*tload of testers :/

        • Alex Luckett

          Correct, I don't think he was suggesting that people actually use that method though.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        I would actually love to run testing that way. You'd have an easily managed Drive to share documents (great for sharing info between testers), a mailing list that would be way less hassle than tracking a cobbled-together email list, automated updates instead of the really crappy path of sending apks/urls to testers and possibly working through things as simple as install issues. This really would be the perfect solution for app testers. Unfortunately, it's completely impractical for most independent developers to pay $5/month or $50/year for each test account. You've got to have a fairly popular app to justify $50 a month for 10 test accounts.

        I know it's a long shot, but I'd love to see Google offer an option similar to this with developer accounts (possibly for a nominal fee). The cost would be negligible and the benefit to developers would be fantastic. Any way to make testing and distribution easier would be a boon to the ecosystem.

  • Deltaechoe

    Finally, I've been waiting for a way to more securely share some test apps with people

  • JG

    I'd love to see this morph more into a Repository type setup. Then I can just add, for example, Amazon's repo address to my Play Store account and use the main Play Store app to search for, download and update not only the official Play Store apps, but also the Amazon App Store Apps right there in the same app, at the same time, without having to go through any extra steps. Then if a company wants to distribute apps either to select individuals (beta testers type like @HellG:disqus mentioned) or if they just don't want to publish their app in the Play Store proper users can still conveniently download the app, and keep them updated without having to constantly check the company's website, etc...