Google is giving businesses a new way to distribute custom-built Android applications to employees with the unveiling of “Private Channels” on Google Play.

Announced on Tuesday for Google Apps customers, the Google Play Private Channel lets IT shops build their own applications and distribute them to employees on the Google Play store without making the apps available to the general public. “Whether you’ve built a custom expense reporting app for employees or a conference room finder, the Google Play Private Channel is designed to make your organization’s internal apps quick and easy for employees to find,” Google Play Product Manager Ellie Powers wrote in a blog post. “Once your company has loaded these internal apps using the Google Play Developer Console, users just need to log in with their company email address to browse the Private Channel and download apps.”

The concept isn’t a new one. As we wrote more than a year ago, numerous vendors are helping companies build private app stores for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices. Apple, for example, has facilitated business distribution of applications through its App Store Volume Purchasing Program and the iOS Developer Enterprise Program. But while the open nature of Android meant that you could always build custom applications and sideload them to devices, the new Google Play Private Channel will be a much more convenient way for employees to get employer-specific applications.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab