New Google Play Publishing Method Enables Targeted Distribution

Until recently, there were three ways to distribute your application using Google Play.  You could make the app available to everyone, you could restrict it to your own organization or you could restrict it to specific users using alpha and beta releases.

Google has made a fourth option available, where you can restrict your application to specific organizations.  When using this option your application will not appear in the public Google Play store or search results and users won’t be able to open a link to it, unless they are part of an organization you’ve granted access to.  This behavior is similar to the previous “Restrict Distribution” option that was in Google Play, except now you can choose other organizations instead of just your own.

This covers use cases such as:

  • Companies with multiple Google Domains or multiple Google Service accounts on multiple BlackBerry UEM servers can now deploy the same binary to all of their users.
  • Software Vendors who don’t want their apps listed publicly can now have a private Google Play app where they choose the organizations who have access. Previously the APK may have been provided to the customer directly to deploy to accomplish this.

Let’s look at how this works.

How to Configure in Google Play

Log into the Google Play Developer Console and select the app you wish to manage.  On the left-hand menu expand “Store presence” and click on “Pricing and distribution”.  Scroll down to the “Managed Google Play” section and check off the two options shown in the screenshot below (the first will be checked and disabled for free apps).

After you’ve checked those boxes, click on CHOOSE ORGANIZATIONS.  Enter the Organization ID and give it a name to help identify it in the future.  Click Add, Done and then submit your update.  Google Play will tell you it’ll take a couple of hours for the update to take effect, but I’ve found that the app is available to the newly added organization after a few minutes.

Where to Find the Organization ID

Your organization ID is visible in Google Play for Work.  Log in using a Google Domain account or Gmail account that is a member of your organization and click on “Admin Settings” on the menu.  Your Organization Name and Organization ID will be shown.

Mark Sohm

About Mark Sohm

Senior Technical Solutions Manager on the Solution Architects team.

Mark Sohm joined BlackBerry in 2003 and currently works as a Senior Technical Solutions Manager on the Solutions Architects team. Mark Sohm has been helping developers create applications using BlackBerry technologies for over 15 years, starting way back with the very first BlackBerry JDK on BlackBerry OS 3.6 through to BlackBerry 10 and now Android with BlackBerry Dynamics and Android Enterprise.