Eugene Raynor

Making your apps enterprise ready with custom app configurations

Eugene Raynor

Jun 10, 2021

8 min read

Every company – small or large – is bound to have a need to tweak their default store apps to something more personal. To a more enterprise touch.

Maybe it’s to get their apps to automatically connect to the corporate network. Or, it’s to have them come pre-configured with employee credentials. Or maybe even, to restrict the app from running on unapproved devices.

Whatever the reason, by enforcing custom app configurations, you give IT the power to do just this. It ensures that the managed apps that run on your company devices will satisfy the corporate requirements you have set.

What is custom app configuration?

Custom app configuration is a feature that enables IT admins to remotely configure app settings for users on corporate devices. This capability is especially useful for businesses that have to deploy enterprise-approved apps to their users.

Why do you need custom app configurations on managed devices?

Custom app configuration is an essential part of every solid device management strategy. By enforcing a good app configuration policy, your IT can ease the setup process for adopting work apps, while also securing the app from potential attacks. When you enforce a custom app configuration policy, you push the configured settings to your managed apps. These settings are then automatically applied on the next launch of the app, and require no action from the end-user.

Just imagine. If your users were to enter these settings instead, you’d most likely be looking at a horde of troubleshooting and support calls.

Apart from saving time and effort, a strong app configuration policy also grants additional perks to your enterprise too.

Additional perks

  • Configure user data and credentials for first-time setup
  • Manage app permissions
  • Enforce access management
  • Enable access to app tunnel on configured apps
  • Enforce Single-sign on

How does a UEM help streamline custom app configuration?

Configure and push enterprise-ready apps

Enterprises can easily customize and manage configurations for supported apps with the help of a UEM solution. Developers usually embed within their apps, an XML file that specifies the configurable settings for the specific app. This file is called an XML schema. Now, Unified Endpoint Management solutions that support the custom app configuration feature, lets IT admins extract this XML schema and edit the app’s configurable settings, thereby ensuring that the apps are enterprise-ready.

Improve user onboarding experience

Manually configuring each user’s login credentials on their work apps can be a daunting task. This will especially be the case if your enterprise is host to hundreds or thousands of employees. In such cases, as an IT admin, you can easily pass this data to their work apps with the help of custom app configurations.

Integrate existing enterprise services to the app

By customizing managed app configurations, IT admins can integrate enterprise services including corporate networks and existing identity and access management (IAM) solutions to their managed apps. This, in turn, will enable enterprises to simplify the steps involved in setting up their managed apps and securing them.

Ease device management workflows with OEMconfig apps

With the introduction of OEMConfig apps, IT admins can now use managed app configurations to control device management features, and easily fine-tune device management capabilities on Androids. With Hexnode’s UEM solution, IT can make use of OEMConfig apps to customize the settings of any OEM supported device, by approving the app from Managed Google Play store, configuring the policy, and then installing the app on OEM supported devices.

Requires the device to be enrolled in Android Enterprise and have an OS version above 5

How do custom app configurations work?

When creating work apps, the app developers usually provide support to customize its managed configurations remotely, by embedding an XML schema file for the app. UEM solutions that support the custom app configuration feature, will be designed in such a way that their web consoles can retrieve the XML schema from the apps that support managed configuration.

By obtaining this XML schema from the UEM console, IT admins can easily customize the supported app configurations, which will then be pushed to the apps.

IT admin configuring XML file for managed app
IT admin configuring XML file for managed app

How to deploy app configurations using Hexnode UEM?

Hexnode enables you to customize your work apps and remotely push configurations for a variety of platforms – including iOS, Android, and Mac – and set up flexible app configuration policies to suit the needs of your organization.

Get your app configuration policies in high gear with Hexnode UEM

iOS app configuration using Hexnode

With Hexnode, enterprises can customize iOS app configurations and install the managed apps with pre-configured settings. To set up iOS app configuration, IT admins can navigate to the ‘Apps’ tab in the Hexnode portal, select the specific app to be configured, and download the sample XML file. This file will contain all the configurable settings supported by the specific app. Once you’ve edited the required configurations and uploaded the file, subsequent app installations will come with these settings pre-configured.

Android app configuration using Hexnode

With the help of Android Enterprise and Managed Google Play, IT admins can manage Android app configurations as well as app permissions directly from Hexnode’s UEM portal. Once you select an app, all the configurable options for the app are displayed, which can then be edited and saved to a policy. Once this policy is associated with your managed device, the configured settings are applied to the apps on the device.

Now you may notice there are certain apps on Managed Google Play, that might seem to have a very contrasting set of configuration settings when compared to the other apps on the store. They may have configuration options that could affect your entire device. These apps are called OEMConfig apps, and they don’t function like your typical Play Store apps.

What are OEMConfig apps?

These are apps developed by OEM vendors hosted on Managed Google Play. OEMConfig apps make use of custom app configurations to control device features provided by the OEM vendor. These apps provide a level of device management capabilities that is far deeper than what a UEM can offer by itself. They also come with zero-day support for every new feature released by the OEM vendor, meaning, as an IT admin, you won’t need to wait for your UEM provider to update these features into their service. However, if your UEM solution supports OEMConfig apps, enterprises can access and customize these OEM-specific features by configuring the app from the UEM portal itself.

How do OEMConfig apps work?

OEMConfig app workflow is similar to how IT admins configure a managed app’s settings.

  • The OEM vendors register their OEMConfig app with Managed Google Play, and define APIs that can manage the OEM supported devices.
  • The vendors also embed a schema that contains the configuration capabilities into the app.
  • UEM solutions that support OEMConfig will be designed such that they can retrieve this schema from the Managed Google Play store.
  • After obtaining this schema, IT admins can easily configure the supported device settings, which can then be pushed to the enrolled OEM-supported devices, to effectively manage them.

App configuration on Android
App configuration on Android

macOS app configuration using Hexnode

With a UEM solution like Hexnode, IT admins can customize Mac app configurations and pre-configure settings including accounts, login preferences, and more. To customize app configuration on a Mac, you can select the specific app and download the XML file, which will contain all the configurations the app supports. Once you’ve edited the configurations and uploaded the file, they will be passed to the specific apps on the device.

With Hexnode, enterprises can also configure privacy preference policy control (PPPC) payloads on a Mac, to remotely manage access to macOS services, including camera and microphone on Mac apps. This enables enterprises to ease the setup process for Mac apps, while also denying permission to services that might be deemed risky by your organization.

Summing up

Regardless of how small your business is, or how many devices they deploy, be it a few dozen, to even hundreds or thousands, equipping your enterprise with a UEM solution will help your IT go a long way in securing their work apps. In addition to providing a simple and streamlined app configuration process for all your platforms, a UEM solution also makes the process of deploying your managed apps and securing them a simple process, that’s easy to pick up even for novice technicians. What’s more, all this can be done remotely from a centralized console, accessible from anywhere.

Eugene Raynor

Seeking what's there lurking over the horizon.

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