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Publishing an Android App

Documenting the process of publishing an app on the Google Play Store as I go through it for the first time.

Step 1: Sign up

Sign up for an account on the Android Developer Console. Creating an account costs $25.

Step 2: Create a new application

  • On the Developer Console select the Publish an Android Application option.
  • Fill out the details: Title, Short Description, Full Description.

Step 3: Prepare multimedia

  • Screenshots: I used the android emulator to take screenshots of my app.
  • Hi-res icon: I used the launcher icon. It was an SVG file, so I converted it to PNG using GIMP.
  • Feature graphic: This is an image that shows up on the top of the app download page in Google Play on mobile phones.

Step 4: Prepare code for release

  • Remove log statements.
  • Remove the android:debuggable attribute from your manifest file. I didn’t have to do this because Android Studio automatically sets this attribute based on the kind of APK its building. Neat!
  • Set the android:versionCode attribute in the manifest tag in manifest.xml. Two important notes: (1) This must be an integer that increases with each release. (2) This number is not displayed to users.
    I chose “1”.
  • Set the android:versionName attribute in the manifest tag in manifest.xml. This string is shown to users and has no other purpose.
    I chose “1.0”.

Step 5: Build a release-ready APK

The release-ready APK is different from the debug APK in that it is signed with certificate that is owned by the developer. This is done to ensure that updates to the app come from a verified source, i.e. a developer with access to the private key.

I recommend you follow the instructions here to create a signed APK.

TL;DR? Here are some important take-away points:

  • Android Studio -> Build -> Generate Signed APK
  • A Java Keystore (JKS) is a repository of public-private key pairs.
  • You must sign all APKs with the same key pair.
  • Losing a key-pair consequences that you will not be able to push updates to your app.

Step 6: Upload APK

Go back to the Developer Console and click on Manage Releases. Then create a Production Release and upload your signed APK.

Google will perform a check on the APK. My app was using an SVG for the launcher icon, which is no-bueno. I had to change it to PNG and recreate the signed APK.

Step 7:

Complete the checklist on the left until all the items have a green checkmark. The console re-evaluates the checklist every time you click Save Draft in the top right.

You are now ready to publish :)

Link to the app.

Link to Github repo.

Relevant android user guides

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