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Managing multiple enterprise app versions using Mobile Device Manager Plus

Since enterprise apps are developed in house, the responsibility of testing these apps before deploying them to the production environment falls on the organization as the new versions are not pre-tested like the apps available on any of the app stores. In order to ensure the app reliability, organizations need to test the apps on these devices, before deploying them to the production environment. Multi-app version management helps you with this by letting you add multiple versions of your enterprise apps to the app repository, and test the pre-release versions on a testbed before deploying it in the production environment.

Advantages of multi-app version management

  • Update versions of your enterprise applications after testing new features and fixes, ensuring organizational compliance standards are followed.
  • Deploy different versions to devices in your organization based on compatibility.
  • Enable IT Admins to downgrade the app version in Apple devices to previous versions.
  1. Enterprise apps distributed via MDM can be installed on the device, even if Play Store is restricted. To install enterprise apps without user intervention, refer to this.
  2. In case you've added an unsigned enterprise app and have issues installing the same, it is recommended to have the app signed by the developer. To know more about app signing, click here. If you’re unable to install a signed enterprise app to the App Repository, you can file an appeal here.

Managing Apple enterprise apps

  1. On the web console, navigate to App Repository
  2. Click Add App and Select Apple Enterprise App under Apple App
  3. Enter the Name of the App
  4. Specify the title of the App, this is mandatory.
  5. Click Browse to upload the App
  6. Bundle Identifier - a unique ID for the App, will be filled in automatically.
  7. The Version of the app will be filled in automatically
  8. Specify the Category and Supported Devices
  9. Upload Image that needs to be displayed
  10. Define App Policies like removing the App from the device, when the profile is removed and restricting App data back up.
  11. Click on Save to store the App in the App Repository.

Updating Apple enterprise apps

Follow the steps mentioned below to upgrade Enterprise App:

  1. Click on Device Mgmt and select App Repository from the left pane.
  2. Click on the Actions buttons and select Update.
  3. Upload the latest .ipa file. You can see that App version gets modified automatically.
  4. Specify the Version label for the uploaded version
  5. Select the distribution type. The app can be distributed to app catalog from where the users can download the app or you can silently update the app on devices.
  6. Make necessary changes and click Save to save the changes.

The uploaded latest version of the app will replace the existing version and will be updated in the App repository.

Ensure https://ppq.apple.com is allowed on your external firewall to ensure the added enterprise apps are trusted on the device.

Managing Android enterprise apps

  • In certain cases, the apps distributed after configuring Android for Work might take additional time before silently initiating installation on the devices.
  • If the MIUI optimization is turned on in Xiaomi devices, it could cause enterprise app installation failure. It is recommended to turn off MIUI optimization on these devices. For this navigate to Settings ->Build Number, tap the build number 6 to 8 times to enable Developer Mode and turn off MIUI optimization.

Follow the steps below to add an Android enterprise app:

  1. On the web console, navigate to Device Mgmt -> App Repository
  2. Click on Add App and select Android Enterprise App.
  3. Upload the .apk file.
  4. The bundle identifier and the version of the app will be automatically filled in once the .apk file is uploaded.
  5. For the uploaded app version, enter an app display name that will be displayed on the MDM console.
  6. Select a category from the dropdown, based on the app's primary function
  7. Select the device type that supports your uploaded enterprise app.
  8. In Version Label field, specify a descriptive name to identify the uploaded app versions on the console
  9. If required, provide an app description with the features or fixes released in the uploaded version for easier identification
  10. Add App Configurations and App Permissions if required.
  11. Click on Save.

Your Android Enterprise App is ready to be distributed to devices and groups.

Updating Android enterprise apps

Follow the steps mentioned below to update enterprise app:

  1. On the MDM Server, navigate to App Repository
  2. Click on the app, and select the version which you want to update
  3. Click on Actions present against the app version and select Update App File.
  4. Upload the new APK file.
  5. If the APK has been successfully updated, then the App Version is modified and shows the updated version.
  6. Make other changes if necessary and click on Save.

The latest version of the app is updated in the App repository, which can be distributed to Groups/devices.
Note: Updating app file will replace the current apk with the updated apk file. To add the latest app version as a separate app, click on Add new version.

Managing app updates for Enterprise apps:

In Android devices, an enterprise app that has been updated to a new version, cannot be rolled back to its older version, however, the app can be removed from the devices, and a lower version can then be distributed. Note that the data on the previous version of the app will be erased.

It is always recommended to test a new version of an enterprise on a few devices before rolling out the new version to all the devices. Refer this link for more details.

Enterprise app deployment best practices:

  • While developing an Enterprise app:
    1. It is recommended to upload only a signed APK. In case you've added an unsigned enterprise app and have issues installing the same, it is recommended to have the app signed by the developer. To know more about app signing, click here. If you’re unable to install a signed enterprise app to the App Repository, you can file an appeal here.
    2. Ensure that the app size doesn't exceed 1.5 GB.
    3. Version code refers to the numerical code used to denote the version of APK, while version name is a readable name displayed to the user. Ensure to increase the version code with each app update monotonically. You can optionally change the version name of the updated app. To know how to set application version information, refer this. Updating lower version APK is restricted since apps installed on devices cannot be downgraded, Version code already exists or Version code should be higher error will be shown respectively, if the updated app has the same version code as that of the existing app or if you are trying to downgrade an app.
    4. To avoid installation issues, the existing APK and the updated version of the APK need to have the same signature and Bundle ID. Since Bundle ID uniquely identifies an app, changing it will add the app as a new app in the App Repository.
  • While deploying an Enterprise app:
    1. Enterprise apps distributed via MDM can be installed on the device, even if Play Store is restricted. To install enterprise apps without user intervention, refer to this.
    2. To restrict device users from uninstalling the distributed apps, silently install the apps instead of distributing it to the App Catalog.
    3. While updating an enterprise app, distribute the beta version to a test Group before distributing it to the production environment.
    4. It is not recommended to add Play Store apps as an Enterprise app to avoid issues while updating the app. If you are adding a Play Store app that is already present in the App Repository or in Trash as an Enterprise app, Cannot modify Play Store app error will be shown.

For devices provisioned as Profile Owner, different versions of the same application cannot exist, both inside and outside the work profile/container.

  • For enterprise apps, when an app is present in the personal space and a lower version of the same app is distributed to the work profile, the app installation fails. Similarly, when a higher version of the same app is distributed to the work profile, the app present in the personal space is updated to the version being distributed.

Managing Windows enterprise apps

  1. On the web console, navigate to App Repository.
  2. Click Add App and Select Windows Enterprise App under Windows App.
  3. Enter the Name of the App.
  4. Click Browse to upload the App.
  5. If the app has dependent files that are required for the app installation, you will have to upload a .zip file that contains the required dependent files.
  6. Specify the App Product ID.
  7. Specify Version of the App
  8. Specify the Category  and Supported Devices.
  9. Specify the Description if required.
  10. Upload Image that needs to be displayed.
  11. Click on Save to add the App in the App Repository.

You have successfully added the Windows enterprise apps.

Upgrading Windows enterprise apps

Follow the steps mentioned below to upgrade enterprise app:

  • Click on Device Mgmt and select App Repository from the left pane.
  • Click on the ellipsis icon present under Actions, against the app which is to be updated.and then on click on Modify App
  • Upload the latest .appx/.xap file. You can see that App version gets modified automatically.
  • Make necessary changes and click Save to save the changes.

The latest version of the App will be updated in the App Repository, so that it can be distributed to the groups/devices.

Managing Windows MSI apps

To add MSI apps to the App Repository and distribute/install them on Windows machines, refer to this.

Updating Windows enterprise apps

Follow the steps mentioned below to update enterprise app:

  • Click on Device Mgmt and select App Repository from the left pane.
  • Click on the ellipsis icon present under Actions, against the app which is to be updated.and then on click on Modify App
  • Modify the MSI source file by uploading the new MSI file to the App Repository. You can see that App version gets modified automatically.
  • Make necessary changes and click Save to save the changes.

The latest version of the App will be updated in the App Repository and it can be distributed to the groups/devices.

Approving and disabling app versions:

Once the pre-released app version has passed testing, you can approve the app version to make it the primary app. Once an app is approved, lower versions stored in the app repository will be disabled and the devices with lower versions of the app installed in them, will be updated to the approved version automatically. The approved version can be identified by the green icon present next to it.

  • To approve an app version, navigate to App Repository in the Device Management tab.
  • Select the app version to be approved. Click on Actions -> Approve.
  • If you want to remove the previous versions, check the box Delete lower app versions from the App Repository
  • Specify the version label for the approved version
  • Choose the distribution type. If you select Distribute to App Catalog, the users will have to download the app from the App Catalog manually. If Install Update Automatically is selected, the app will be automatically installed without any user intervention on the devices with lower versions. If you want to distribute the app to specific groups/devices, you can choose Distribute Manually.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Unable to upload an enterprise app file due to disabled site cookies

    While uploading an enterprise app file from your computer, ensure your browser is configured to allow third-party cookies. To allow third-party cookies, open Chrome on your computer. At the top right, click More and then Settings. Under Privacy and security, click Site settings and enable Cookies. You can also add [*.]manageengine.com to Sites that can always use cookies list to avoid issues while uploading enterprise apps.
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