Although Apple's App Store debuted in 2008, Apple immediately went to work on a version of their store for the enterprise that would limit employee's access to various types of applications for their company-centric iOS devices.
Modern computing devices, such as computers, mobile computing devices, and mobile phones, are capable of downloading and installing a wide variety of software applications. For example, software sources, such as Apple's App Store, allow users to browse and download applications onto their computing devices. For example, Apple's App Store and others like it allow users to download various applications to their mobile devices, such as their mobile phone. Currently, there are an extremely large number of applications available through sources like the App Store.
Different users and computing devices, however, may have different requirements regarding how these applications execute. For example, computing devices may be configured to require that any code executed be authorized by a trusted party. As another example, certain applications may be deemed unsuitable or unsafe for a particular user. Unfortunately, due to the extremely large number of applications, it can be difficult to manage the availability and installation of these applications.
Customized Access to Apple's App Store
In one embodiment, a profile is authorized, e.g., using encryption and installed to the device by the particular entity. Software for which distribution is limited to those authorized by an enterprise or other entity is thus only available for download to a properly profiled and authorized device.
In some embodiments, in order to have its profile installed on a computing device, an entity, such as a carrier or enterprise, may send requests to a trusted authority. This request may specify types of access and functionality that the entity would like devices to have while accessing a software source, such as iTunes. The trusted authority may create a profile, which reflects the entity's desired network policies for those devices on the carrier's network or allows the entity to modify the device appropriately.
When a user requests access to a source of software, such as iTunes, the device may check authorizations specified in the profile to determine the manner in which a source of software can be accessed. For purposes of illustration, exemplary embodiments are described for a mobile phone, such as an iPhone which can access a source of software like the iTunes Store. Accordingly, various front-end interfaces may essentially serve as "storefronts" that allow for a more customized or limited access to the applications and content provided by iTunes Store or application stores like it.
This allows various entities to customize how a computing device may access a software source. For example, various front-end interfaces (or storefronts) may be customized to suit the requirements of a specific organization or business. Other front-end interfaces (or storefronts) may be customized to suit the needs of a particular vendor, or type of user, such as a people of different ages, ethnicity, location, or different interests.
The App Store's Customized Access System
Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates a conceptual block diagram of an environment on the computing device 106 that supports customized access to a source of software. As shown, in order to implement secure installation of software, the computing device 106 may comprise an installer 400, an operating system 402, an installation framework 404, storage 406, one or more containers 408 arranged in a directory structure, a content management application 416, one or more profiles 418 comprising authorization data 420, and a profile database 422 (click to enlarge).
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate an exemplary process flow for providing a customized front-end interface to a source of software and installing an application from the source. As shown, this process may generally comprise eleven operations (click to enlarge).
Apple's patent FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary process for managing and synchronizing securely installed software on the computing device 106. In general, the installation framework manages the launching and execution of applications being executed on the computing device 106. In particular, the installation framework provides a mechanism by which the operating system identifies and locates the container for an application.
Apple credits Mitchell Adler as the sole inventor of patent application 20110010759, originally filed in Q4 2009.
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