Although they can only be accessed by users with a direct link, Apple is allowing unlisted apps to be available for distribution in its App Store.
Apple will not make unlisted apps publicly available and will only be discoverable to those within a specific group who have received a link. Apple requires anyone who wants to list an app but does not wish for that app to be made public to send a request to do so and be approved by Apple’s team.
Apps unlisted will not be discoverable by the public through search results or be seen on App Store categories, charts, or recommendations, and are only available to administrators. They are ideal if the administrator of the app wants to make it available for a special event, members of an organization, research study participants, or a group of employees. These apps are useful only to a specific set of people.
These apps are unavailable for pre-release or beta forms. Apps previously approved on the App Store via Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager need to create a new app record in App Store Connect, “upload [the] binary, and set the distribution method to Public before completing the request form.”
That and any future versions of the app will be marked as unlisted as well. Unlisted apps are designed for employee-owned devices that are not “eligible to be managed through Apples School Manager or Apple Business Manager.” This applies to all regions supported by the App Store.
However, some have noted that this can be used to sidestep some of Apple’s safety requirements. With a link, developers could distribute these dangerous apps to people with just a link which could include malware, viruses, pirated games, gambling, or porn. What kinds of safety measures Apple already has in place is unclear, but users should be weary if they receive link-only access to an app.
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