Malicious apps have emerged as perhaps the most serious threat to mobile devices at the moment, and the major players, such as Apple and Google, have tried several different methods of preventing them from getting into their app stores and into the hands of users. Now, Google is taking one more step with the launch of a new service called the Private Channel for Google Apps, which gives enterprises and other organizations the ability to create private app stores and control the apps their users can download.
Private Channel is essentially a way for organizations to stand up their own miniature app stores inside of Google Play–the main app store for Android devices–and publish apps to it. That gives these organizations the ability to point their users directly to the apps they want users to download for their Android devices. The new service will include some of the security features built into Google Play, most notably the antimalware system and the ability to authenticate users.
So, administrators who have a Google Apps for Business domain can restrict who has access to the Private Channel they set up, curate which apps are published in that channel and exert more control over the software that runs on their users’ devices.
“The Google Apps domain administrators can also choose which users or user groups can access the Private Channel to download internal applications. The Google Play Store provides common features for application publishing, including user authentication, virus and malware detection, device targeting, payment, user rating, and user feedback,” Google said in its statement about the new service.
The presence of malicious Android apps in the Google Play store has been a problem for a couple of years now, with various pieces of malware such as DroidDream and others popping up in the store, along with outright malicious apps. However, the problem is not isolated to Google Play, however, as there have been incidents with the iTunes App Store in the past, as well as in the third-party markets that have emerged for Android and other platforms.
The Private Channel service from Google gives enterprises that are worried about the issue of mobile device security an option to create an app store through which they can publish their own apps or apps from developers they trust. Once an organization has the Private Channel established, domain administrators can grant specific users access to the channel. App developers who have permission can publish apps to that channel and users can access the channel through the normal Google Play app on their devices.
Right now, publishers can not publish an app in both the Google Play and in a Private Channel, but that could change in the future.