Google Play Managed iFrame in Workspace ONE UEM (AirWatch) – App Collections

In two previous posts dedicated to the Managed Google Play iFrame we have covered Private Apps and Web Apps. The last feature of the iFrame interface is called Collections and allows you to organize the Work Play Store app layout, as well as shoot yourself in the foot a few times…

As usual, the Collections management is accessed via the Managed iFrame, which is called by adding a Public Android app in the Workspace ONE UEM Console, and accessing the Organize Apps menu item on the left.

Add a public app, Android, name is not necessary
Collections are managed via Organize Apps menu item

There you can add and manage your collections. The UI itself is very simple to use. You can

  • Create/delete/rename the collections.
  • Add remove apps. Same app may appear in multiple collections
  • Move the collections up and down by clicking on arrows. Re-order the apps by clicking left-right arrows.

Drag and drop is not supported, probably because of iFrame compatibility limitations. Shame though, that this feature is not available via play.google.com/work web UI.

Collection management is simple and intuitive, albeit quite basic

Now, the downsides

  • If the app is not added to any collections, it will NOT show up in the Work Play Store app even if assigned to the device. It will show up in the Intelligent Hub etc, and will be pushed if assigned as auto-deployed app, but you won’t see it in the Play UI.
  • Once created, collections cannot be removed. You always must have at least one.
  • This means if you want to leverage the Work Play Store, every time you add the app – you need to go into iFrame (again!) and manually add it to one of the collections – super annoying!
  • Which means that you are probably better off NEVER enabling the Collections in the first place!
If not added to a collection, app will appear in the Intelligent Hub, but not in the Work Play Store –> Apps section. If if was previously installed, it may appear in the Library -> Not on this device, to make things even more confusing.

Lessons learned

Honestly, the Collections feature looks cool, but feels unfinished on the management side. It may be useful to users of the “lightweight” EMM solutions, but if you are using advanced EMM solutions such as WorkSpace ONE or MobileIron – this is just an extra hassle.

I would rather use the Unified catalog built into the EMM agent, such as Workspace One Intelligent Hub Catalog, and block Work Play Store completely.

If blocking the Work Play Store app may be not what you want (it has other useful sections that you may want to use), you can create a single empty collection with no apps. This way the user will always see “No apps assigned” and can only browse and install apps via the EMM Catalog.

What do you think? Have I missed anything useful about collections management?

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