Until now, there have been four official ways to install apps on iPhone and iPad: publicly visible apps on the App Store, Apple Configurator 2, the TestFlight beta-testing service, and Xcode. (Unofficially, you can also use
Now Apple has developed a fifth method that could be of interest to many businesses and organisations: unlisted apps.
These are apps, the company
explains on its developer site, that are uploaded to the App Store and undergo the usual checks, but do not show up publicly. The only way to access them is via a direct link.
“Unlisted apps don’t appear in any App Store categories, recommendations, charts, search results, or other listings,” Apple says.
According to Apple, the option is primarily intended for apps with a limited target audience, such as one for a business’s customers, a school’s students or a conference’s attendees. A company might also wants to make an app available to staff on their personal devices, but not to make it available for anyone else.
Developers can ask for both new and existing apps to be unlisted: it’s simply a matter of
submitting a request. But once an app has been unlisted, it cannot be restored to open access.
Unlisted apps can be downloaded by anyone who has the link, so Apple recommends that developers add login systems or other techniques themselves to prevent unauthorised use.
This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation (using
DeepL) and additional reporting by David Price.