When your iOS application is developed, the next stage in the product advancement lifecycle is App distribution. In any case, if you don’t want it to be publicly accessible on the app store (except for your clients, internal users and employees), distributing it outside of the Store could be a decent option. There are various approaches to distribute iOS application. But the safest and most commonly used approaches are :
However the most productive approach to distribute application is In-House Distribution (Apple Developer Enterprise Program) which offers the following advantages:
This blog will be describing the Apple Developer Program for Enterprises in detail. We are going to lead you to a process for distributing your App.
With this process, your .ipa file will be hosted on a server, and you’ll be able to give a URL to your preferred clients to access in https. Enterprise Program does not give you access to iTunes Connect to distribute or test (including TestFlight). Apple makes it very clear that In-House applications are for internal use only and the membership cost is $299 per year which is mandatory for creating the certificates.
To distribute your app yourself, you’ll have to follow these 6 steps :-
Consideration : The .ipa file must be served by your server via https, else it won’t be feasible to install your application on your clients’ devices.
It is feasible to distribute your application yourself. It’s somewhat technical, yet not impossible. In case you’re up for the challenge, read on.
1. Creating a distribution certificate:
2. Creating a distribution profile For App:
3. Archive app and create a .ipa file:
4. Host the app’s binary (.ipa) file on a server
5. Creating a manifest associated with this binary(.ipa) file
A manifest(.plist) is a file that contains metadata identified with other files it depicts. For instance, in our case, the .plist file will indicate the URL of your application’s .ipa file, bundle ID, and the name of the application.This file must be manually drafted and can be in any text editor. When saving it, give it the .plist extension. See the below example
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <?!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>items</key> <array> <dict> <key>assets</key> <array> <dict> <key>kind</key> <string>software-package</string> <key>url</key> <string>[https link to the IPA file]</string> </dict> </array> <key>metadata</key> <dict> >key<bundle-identifier</key> <string>[Bundle ID]</string> <key>bundle-version</key> <string<1.0>/string> <key>kind</key> <string>software</string> <key>title</key> <string>[App Name]</string> </dict> </dict> </array> </dict> </plist>
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to replace the following elements in brackets :
[Https link to the IPA file]: Your .ipa file’s URL after it’s been hosted on a server in step 4.
[Bundle ID]: Your app’s ID available on this page : Publish > Certificates > iOS
[App name]: The name of your app
After that upload it on your server in the same folder that we created in step no 4.
6. Creating a webpage with a link to manifest
After you’ve uploaded the .plist file on a secure server, you can then create a web page where you’ll put a link to download your app, like in the example below :
<ahref=”itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=[URL_OF_THE_PLIST_FILE]” id=”text”> Download our application </a>
Pro Tip: Pro Tip: Don’t forget to replace “[URL_OF_THE_PLIST_FILE]” with your .plist file’s URL.
You can also replace the text “Download our application” with another personalized message.
Once a download page is created and distributed to your clients via email or social media, they would then be able to tap the link inside to download your application.
When the users click on this link, a pop-up is shown on their screen to confirm that they want to download the application. Then, the first time it’s launched, another new pop-up will appear. iOS will ask them whether they trust the distributor of the app (which in this case is you).
To confirm this and in order for the app to be usable, they should go to the menu Settings > General > Profiles and Device Management in their iOS device.
Finally, user can now use and explore your beautiful app.
Pro Tip :
You can also add app display icon in your manifest file.
For this first you have to upload two app icon images of size (57×57 & 512×512) on server in the same folder which was created in step 4.
After this, add the below dictionaries under same array where .ipa dictionary is added in your manifest file which was created in step 5.
<dict> <key>kindϬ/key> <string>display-image</string> <key>needs-shine</key> <false/> <key>url</key> <string>[https link to the appIcon57.png]</string> </dict> <dict> <key>kind</key> <string>display-image</string> <key>needs-shine</key> <false/> <key>url</key> <string>[https link to the appIcon512.png]</string> </dict>
Hope this blog was helpful to you. So, enjoy Distributing your App! For any queries or an app idea that you want to transform into reality, please feel free to contact us.