How to Publish Your Android App to the Google Play Store

By Barry Burd

To start the adventure of publishing your Android app, visit the Google Play Store Publishing Page. Look for a button or a link with words like Add New Application. Click that button or link, and get ready to roll.

Nothing permanent happens until you click the Publish App button. If the Publish App button makes you nervous, there’s also a friendly Save Draft button. So you can pause your work, think about things for a while, and log on again later. For more extreme situations (severe cases of Developer’s Remorse), there’s an Unpublish App link. Neither the Publish nor the Unpublish requests take effect immediately. So don’t be upset if you have to wait a few hours.

During your visit to the Google Play Store Publish Page, the most important step is the uploading of the APK file. When you create a publishable APK file in Android Studio, name this file app-release.apk and put the file in your project’s app subdirectory. So, when the big upload moment comes (when you’ve clicked an Upload APK button), drop that app-release.apk file in the Drop Your File Here box, or click the Browse button and use your File Explorer or Finder to navigate to this app-release.apk file.

Aside from the momentous APK upload, you have many questions to answer, many fields to fill in, many files to upload, and many terms to agree to.

  • Title of your app

    A great title can jump-start an app’s popularity. So make your title something snappy.

  • Short description

    You may enter up to 80 characters.

  • Full description

    You may enter up to 4,000 characters.

  • If this isn’t the first version of your app, what’s new in this version?

    You may enter up to 500 characters.

  • Graphic assets

    This includes all the images in your app.

  • Your app’s category

    Is it a game? If so, what type of game? (Choose from Action, Adventure, Card, Puzzle, Racing, Role Playing, and many other types.) If it’s not a game, what type of app is it? (Choose from Business, Communication, Education, Finance, Health, and a bunch of other types.)

  • Content rating

    Complete a questionnaire to determine your app’s content rating under several standards (international and otherwise). Does your app involve violence, sexuality, potentially offensive language, or references to illegal drugs? Does your app involve the exchange of any personal information?

  • Your contact details

    You must supply an email address, and users have access to this address. Optionally, you can supply a website and a phone number.

  • Language

    You specify the default language for your listing on the Play Store. You can provide translations in other languages, or have Google Translate furnish its own guesses. (This can accidentally lead to some fairly amusing results.) You can also purchase translations straight from the Developer Console. For a very simple app, translation costs between $7 and $15 per target language.

  • Countries for distribution

    Pick and choose from more than 190 countries.

  • Target devices

    Android Wear? Android TV? Android Auto?

  • Free or paid?

    For many people, this involves some serious thinking. The only thing you have to know is that changing your mind is a one-way street. You can change an app from being paid to free, but you can’t change an app from being free to being paid. Of course, you can publish a new app that’s very much like the original free app, except that the new app is a paid app.

In addition to the required items, you can specify many additional features for your app. Here are a few of them:

  • Do you want additional alpha or beta testing for your app?

  • Will you point to a URL containing your app’s privacy policy?

  • Will you bill users for goods or services through your app?

  • Will you use app licensing?

    Licensing protects your app from illegal use.

  • Will you use any of Google’s back-end services?

    A back-end service is computing done on the cloud. And why would your app need to deal with the cloud? Maybe your game has a leaderboard, and you want to compare the scores of users around the world. Maybe you want to send data to your users using Google Cloud Messaging. Maybe you want Google’s search engine to look for content within your app. All these things involve back-end services.