How Apple Developer Enterprise license works

Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program lets enterprises develop and distribute proprietary iOS apps across the company outside of the App Store.

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Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program lets enterprises develop and distribute proprietary iOS apps across the company outside of the App Store, using a private portal or URL.

What is Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program?

Apple’s growing enterprise position may not have engaged hearts and minds across the entire company – yet – but it is clearly a booming business for the company.

This momentum behind this scheme is to make it possible for enterprise users to create and securely distribute/deploy apps for internal use. These could be meeting room finders, intranet services or whatever your enterprise needs to build and use.

The cost

There is a $299/year cost to sign up to the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. This fee is in addition to the standard $99/year Apple charges for full membership of the Apple Developer Program.

Apple revised the fee structure in early 2018 when it waived Apple Developer Program fees for U.S. non-profit organizations, accredited educational institutions and government entities. You need to visit this page to sign up for the waiver, which is expected to be rolled out internationally over time.

The paperwork

You need three things to join the scheme:

  • An Apple ID
  • The right to sign a legal agreement on behalf of your company, which itself must be a legal entity
  • A D-U-N-S number

A D-U-N-S Number (Data Universal Numbering System) is provided by Dun & Bradstreet. The system has been around since 1962 and is used to identify business entities on a location-specific basis. Your company may already have this number, so check for this here.

You should join the scheme only if you plan to develop and distribute your own proprietary apps across your own organization. If you plan to develop apps for public distribution through the App Store, a standard Apple Developer Program membership is sufficient.

What do you get?

Apple Developer Enterprise Program can develop and privately distribute proprietary apps for all Apple’s platforms, including:

  • iOS
  • watchOS
  • tvOS
  • macOS

Apps can be securely hosted and distributed internally, and Mac apps, plug-ins and installers can be code-signed and certificated for internal distribution across the company.

Members also get full use and access of Apple’s development software, information, resources and tools, beta software access, and certification, including identifiers and Profiles for code signing and device software provision. You can also set up such things as Push Notifications and App Extensions for use within your apps.

Apple also provides resources for management, security, networking and distribution of enterprise apps.

Above: Apple's amusing Appocalypse WWDC 2017 clip is a tongue in cheek comment on how reliant on apps we have become.

How to manage your development team

Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program lets you manage your development team. That means you can assign roles to team members, approve certificates and create what Apple calls “provisioning profiles.”

You can assign these permissions using your registered Apple ID and the account, which puts you in the position of Team Agent. The Team Agent role can be transferred to another person. The person in that role is also assigned control of your organization’s account.

The Team Agent can add (and remove) team members and assign Admin and Member privileges to those people.

Only the Agent and Admins can distribute apps; the other team members are assumed to not require this permission. App service provision identifier creation and control of distribution assets are all controlled under these roles. Team Admins can also register and control authorized development and test devices.

How app distribution works

There are some limits to what you can do: While you can provision and install test apps on devices, there are some restrictions to how many devices you can support.

When it comes time to distribute your apps, you do not need to ship through iTunes Connect or the App Store. Instead, you distribute apps manually to registered devices (for testing) or across the enterprise.

You can also choose to ship the app via the App Store, if you want. There’s an excellent explanation of how Apple uses Certificates, Identifies & Profile tools to control app distribution, which you can read here.

Apple recommends enterprise users distribute apps using Mobile Device Management tools, such as Apple Configurator 2 and Profile Manager, or a third-party MDM provider, such as those from JAMF.

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