BYOD is the in thing among enterprise users nowadays. If you’re not familiar with the term, then you’ve probably been living in a cave for the past couple of years or so. Basically, enterprises are moving away from proprietary devices or a limited set of devices, and are allowing employees to work, collaborate and communicate with their preferred “bring your own” devices.

Case in point: Yahoo!’s new CEO Marissa Mayer wants everyone to ditch their BlackBerry devices in favor of smartphones — a choice of either iPhone, Android or Windows Phone. But even as businesses allow employees to bring their own devices to work, sometimes companies will need to deploy a set of proprietary applications and programs. This might make it a bit difficult for IT departments to deploy apps to users devices.

iOS, for one, does not enable side-loading of applications without jailbreaking. Android users have it easier, as IT departments can simply distribute .APK files for installing on devices. But an update on Google Play makes it easier for enterprise users to install — and manage — their internal applications.

A new feature called Google Play Private Channel lets IT departments deploy apps through the official Android apps repository. All a user needs is a company email address to be able to install these apps. The system requires that your company runs Google Apps for business, education or government, which means it will be easier to tie everything into one ecosystem — Google’s.

Sure, Android users can easily side-load .APK files to install apps. But I see a few advantages with Private Channel.

  • Users who are not well-versed with side-loading apps will not have a difficult time installing apps.
  • Apps can be auto-updated (if enabled on Google Play).
  • Better security, since users are assured the app they are installing is an official one, and not a potentially dangerous .APK.

Non-enterprise users might not find this interesting at this point, but I can only imagine the possibilities. Private Channel enables organizations to run their own mini app stores and content repositories. This makes Google Apps an even more interesting suite of cloud-based applications for businesses, schools, government offices, and teams to use than, say, more closed systems like the iTunes App Store or BlackBerry AppWorld.

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.