Apple will soon allow developers to offer unlisted apps through the App Store, which can only be accessed by those who have a direct connection (via MacRumors). Unlisted apps aren’t searchable, have no App Store categories, charts, or recommendations for the general public, but administrators can access them through Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager.
According to Apple, unlisted apps are suitable for “limited audiences,” such as guests to a special event, members of an organisation, study participants, or a small group of employees.
To make an app unlisted and obtain a link, developers must first file a request to Apple. Developers must take additional steps for apps that have only been approved for private download on the Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager.
According to Apple, developers must “create a new application record in App Store,” upload the binaries, and then “set the distribution method to Public.”
Developers that have previously made their apps publicly available can make a request without having to take any further steps. The app’s distribution method will change to “Unlisted App” if Apple approves the request, and all updated versions will follow suit. If the app is already available on the App Store, the link for the now-unlisted app will stay the same.
Unlisted apps “must be ready for final distribution,” according to Apple, which will not allow any apps that are still in beta or pre-release.
Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, which was created to allow developers to test and internally distribute programmes before they were formally vetted by Apple, was used by bad actors in a similar way.
As a result, unauthorised gaming, gambling, and pornographic apps may now be easily sideloaded into iPhones. It’s unknown how stringent the unlisted app review process will be, but Ars Technica’s findings suggest it will be limited to apps with a tiny following.