Ready to prepare, release & generate your first app in Android?
Well this is definitely the post for you, check it out below.
So, you've just developed your Android app from scratch – well done! But how do you share it with others so they can also enjoy the app? Don't worry, we've got you covered in just a few simple steps. Using Google Play, let's dive into how you can publish your app easily in this tech tutorial.
To ensure a smooth launch for your app, let's first familiarise ourselves with Google’s updated quality guidelines and policies for developers. Understanding the Developer Program Policies, will help you make sure that your app won't be removed from the play store by violating any of these policies.
While creating your application you'll have to create a package name. Make it memorable but also relevant as this is where all your project files are going to be in a tree-like structure.
Android studio does this as well but if you're using another Integrated Development Environment (IDE), then you must create a similar hierarchical structure yourself. Not only do you need it to store files, but Google Play also requires it as a unique identifier for your app. A common practice is to reverse domain name format, like this:
Creating a Keystore
Before packaging your app files for the play store, you'll need to create a KeyStore. Wondering what exactly this is? Well it's storage for your certificates and so it should be kept private. To generate a KeyStore, open the Android Studio terminal and insert the following command:
keytool -genkey -v -keystore my-app-release-key.keystore -alias alias_name -keyalg RSA -sigalg SHA1withRSA -keysize 2048 -validity 10000
Before running the command, you should make the following modifications in the above command:
- Instead of my-app-release-key, use a specific name for your Keystore.
- Use a short name, instead of alias_name.
- Replace 10000 with the number of years you want to make your key valid. The number should be at least 25 so that you may use it for the app updates.
Run the command and then enter a password for your Keystore. Re-enter the same password for verification and the system will ask a few questions like What is your first name, last name? What does your organisation do…etc.?. This information would be saved in the Keystore.
After this, Android Studio will create a Keystore inside your app module. Now we can proceed to create a signed APK or App bundle.
Packaging the App
Next, distribute your app in two digitally signed formats, i.e., Android Application Package (APK) or Android Application Bundle (AAB).
As some background info: from August 2021, Google decided that all apps ready for distribution should be packaged in ABB format to support dynamic delivery. Another change of policy is about the target API level that all new apps and updates must target Android 10 or higher.
Google Play Developer Console
Great, now we've packaged the app and created a KeyStore, you're going to need a Developer Account to access the Developer Console on Google Play.
After accepting the Developer Distribution Agreement, you'll pay a one-time registration fee of $25 (c. £18.50/€22). After this your account will be created after filling out the final details and then you just need to follow these steps:
Step-by-step process to publish
- After signing into your Google Play console, click on the “Create Application” button. Specify a default language and a ‘Title’ (50 characters max) in the text field for your app.
- From the left panel, navigate to the ‘Store listing’ section. Enter a “Short description” (90 characters max), followed by a “Full description” (4000 characters) for your app.
- Now scroll down to the ‘Product details’ section. Upload a non-transparent high resolution (512 px * 512 px) image for your application’s logo. Google Play will dynamically create round corners and drop shadows for the logo.
- Now provide some screenshots by clicking the ‘Browse files’ button. The aspect ratio should be 2:1, which means that length should be twice the size of the width. Provide at least two screenshots for five different types in total i.e. phone, tablet, Android TV, wear OS and automotive. You can upload a maximum of eight images for each type.
- After completing these steps, move on to the categorisation section. Select Application type, category and tags. These tags describe the content and functionality of your app.
- A questionnaire for content rating is required but you can fill it out after uploading your ‘APK’ file.
- Moving onto the ‘Contact details’ section, you'll be asked to provide your website, email address and phone number. Only the email is mandatory.
- The next step is for ads. You can review the ads policy to ensure that your app is compliant. If your app doesn't contain any type of ad, choose the ‘No, my app does not contain ads’ option. Otherwise choose ‘Yes’ and your app will show the ‘Contains ad’ label. Click on the ‘Save’ button.
- On the “App access” tab, press “Start” and provide instructions if your app contains any restriction based on login, membership, location or any other form of authentication. If your app doesn't require any special permission, then select “All functionality is available without special access”, otherwise select the “All or some functionality is restricted” option. Proceed by clicking the “Save” button.
- By skipping the “Content rating”, go to the “Target audience and content” section. Click on the start button and check out the boxes beside the age group of end-users to whom your app is dedicated to. Google will highlight the actions required according to the age groups selected. For example, you can't select the group below the age of 13 if your rating is “teen” or higher. Click next after selecting the age groups.
- On the summary tab, review the information you've provided so far. Click save to continue.
- Move on to the ‘App releases’ section and click on the ‘Browse files’ button to upload your APK or App bundles.
- After uploading the APK or bundle, provide some information inside the “What’s new in this release?” box.
- Move back to the content rating section, press ‘Continue’ and a dialogue box appears. Enter your ‘Email address’ twice for confirmation and then select your app’s category. A questionnaire will open according to the app category selected.
- Fill and “Save” the questionnaire and proceed with ‘Calculate rating’. Press the ‘Apply rating’ button to make changes in ‘App releases’.
- Navigate to the ‘App content’ section and under ‘Target audience’, tap the ‘Start’ text. Check all the age group boxes according to the modification and proceed with ‘Next’.
- Inside the “Appeal to children”, select ‘Yes’ if your app is determined for children, otherwise ‘No'. Press ‘Save’ and move on to ‘Pricing & distribution’.
- Under countries, select ‘Available’ to make your application available in all the countries. Otherwise, manually select the radio buttons for each country you want to publish your app.
- Mark the checkboxes for ‘Content guidelines’ and ‘US export laws. Tap the “Save draft” button.
- So far, you should've taken all the necessary steps with Developer Console. Make sure that all the checks on the left navigation are now marked.
- Congratulations on almost getting there. Press the “Ready to publish” button and a dialogue box opens which shows that your app is ready to publish. You can ‘Manage releases’ by pressing the button.
- You are now on the ‘App releases’ section. Press ‘Edit release’, scroll down and click on ‘Start rollout to production’. It will prompt for the confirmation to make your application available on Google Play. Press the ‘Confirm’ button.
- Now, the app is sent to deployment, and you can see the release details and pending application on the Console!
And that's it!
In just a few steps, your new Android app is ready to be launched on Google Play. Always remember to create a Keystore before building your APK or app bundles and keep the Keystore files separate from the deployment folder to make it secure. We can't wait to see what you create, feel free to tag us @hackajob_co on Twitter.