Has Apple rejected your app review and suggested that it’s for Private? What exactly is the difference between Public and Private Distribution? And how does the publishing process differ?

In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of each distribution, how to publish and ultimately explain why for 99% of BuddyBoss App customers, ‘private’ apps are not the solution.

Companies wanted to deploy their own internal apps for employee devices as the Apple market share grew in corporate environments, but that requires a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution which enables private apps to be deployed outside the App store on specific devices. 

Over time this process changed, Apple now lets you develop and deploy your iOS app in two ways - Private app distribution and Public app distribution. 

What exactly is the difference between Public and Private Distribution?

Public AppPrivate App
Can be downloaded by a global audience from the App Store
Not available on the App Store for downloads
Intended for a global audience
Intended only for internal use and a private audience
Automatic signing using Xcode creates and manages certificates, signing identities, and handles device registration for you
Manually install a proprietary device certificate through a Mobile Device Management solution
You don’t need to be a legal entity unless registering as an Organization.
You must be a legal entity since Apple does not accept DBAs, fictitious businesses, trade names, or branches

The biggest takeaway here, Apple specifically states that an app should only be distributed on the App Store if it’s intended for use by a “wide variety of external customers around the world”. If it is deemed that your app is not suitable for this, they will suggest a private app.

Your private app is not shown on the iOS App Store, and it’s only downloadable if you have an MDM solution on the device, or send a user a redemption link where they can download the app.

BuddyBoss recommends you to use the public app distribution unless if it’s an employee-only tool you are creating then you’d opt for private app distribution. You may also opt for unlisted app distribution.

If your public app gets rejected during the review process, we highly recommend you revisit the app description and keywords you submit and inform Apple that it is a public app with user registrations and guests that have access to your content. 

Use the Resolution Center in App Store Connect to communicate with Apple about any questions you may have. You can also escalate the issue and submit an appeal if you believe your app was wrongly rejected.

If you still want to go ahead with a Private App, you should sign up for an Apple Business Manager Account, since you need an Organization ID to publish your app.

Submitting an App for Private Distribution

To submit your private app:

  1. Go to App Store Connect and create a new app.
  2. Complete the App Store Information.
  3. Use the BuddyBoss App > Upload to upload a build to your Developer Account 
  4. On your app’s page in App Store Connect, select Pricing and Availability from the left sidebar.
  5. Scroll down to Distribution for Business and Education and select “Available for private distribution to specific organizations on Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager”.
  6. Enter the Organization ID for at least one organization – you can always add more later. You can find the Organization ID for your organization in Apple Business Manager under Organization Info.

App Distribution Methods

When you’re ready, submit your app for review. The app must still go through App Review, but like TestFlight Review it’s less strict.

After it’s approved and once it’s Ready for Sale, your app will show up in Apple Business Manager for the organization(s) you specified – but it won’t be on the public iOS App Store!

Note: Private distribution is only available for apps that haven’t already been released on the App Store. If you have been previously published, you will need to create a new Bundle ID and Release Build.

How to Redeem Redemption Codes

To distribute your app to users, you will need to generate redemption codes.

  1. Go to Apple Business Manager.
  2. In the sidebar, click Custom Apps.
  3. From the License Type dropdown, select Redemption Codes.
  4. Enter the number of redemption codes you want for your custom app and click Get.
  5. Click Download under Redemption Codes to get a spreadsheet of all the private codes to share your custom app directly.

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