Testing In-app Billing

The Google Play Developer Console provides several tools that help you test your In-app Billing implementation:

  • Test purchases, which let license-test users purchase your published in-app items, but without any actual charges to their accounts.
  • Static billing responses from Google Play, for testing in early development

To test In-app Billing in an application you must install the application on an Android-powered device. You cannot use the Android emulator to test In-app Billing. The device you use for testing must run a standard version of the Android 1.6 or later platform (API level 4 or higher), and have the most current version of the Google Play application installed. If a device is not running the most current Google Play application, your application won't be able to send In-app Billing requests to Google Play. For general information about how to set up a device for use in developing Android applications, see Using Hardware Devices.

Testing In-app Purchases

When your In-app Billing implementation is ready, you can test purchasing of your in-app SKUs in two ways:

  • Test purchases, which let your selected license-test users purchase your in-app products without any resulting charges to the user. Test purchases can be used in alpha/beta releases or in published apps.
  • Real purchases, which let regular users make real purchases of your in-app products with actual charges to the user’s payment instruments. You can use Google Play’s alpha and beta release groups to manage the users who can make live purchases using your implementation.

The sections below provide more detail about how to use these approaches for testing and validation.

Test Purchases (In-app Billing Sandbox)

Test purchases offer a secure, convenient way to enable larger-scale testing of your In-app Billing implementation during development or in preparation for launch. They let authorized user accounts make purchases of your in-app products through Google Play without incurring any actual charges to the user accounts.

Once authorized for testing access, those users can make purchases without being charged. Test purchases are real orders and Google Play processes them in the same way as other orders. When purchases are complete, Google Play prevents the orders from going to financial processing, ensuring that there are no actual charges to user accounts, and automatically canceling the completed orders after 14 days.

Note: Test subscription purchases recur daily, regardless of the product's subscription period.

Setting up test purchases

It’s easy to set up test purchases—any user account can be chosen to be a test account, and any user of a test account can make test purchases with any available payment method (even though there’s no charge to the payment method).

First, upload and publish in-app products that you want testers to be able to purchase. You can upload and publish in-app products in the Developer Console. Note that you can upload and publish your in-app items before you publish the APK itself.

Next, create license test accounts for authorized users. In the Developer Console, go to Settings > Account details, then in the License Testing section, add the addresses to Gmail accounts with testing access field. For more information, see Setting Up for Test Purchases.

Once you’ve added the users as license tester accounts and saved the change, within 15 minutes those users can begin making test purchases of your in-app products.

Note: To make test purchases, the license test account must be on the user’s Android device. If the device has more than one account, the purchase will be made with the account that downloaded the app. If none of the accounts has downloaded the app, the purchase is made with the first account. Users can confirm the account that is making a purchase by expanding the purchase dialog.

Test purchases and developer account

Authorized license test accounts are associated with your developer account in Google Play, rather than with a specific APK or package name. Identifying an account as a test account enables it to purchase any of your in-app products without being charged.

Details of purchase flow

During a test purchase, users can test the actual merchandising, purchase, and fulfillment flow in your app. During purchase, the inapp item is displayed as a normal item with an actual price. However, Google Play marks test purchases with a notice across the center of the purchase dialog, for easy identification.

Canceling completed test purchases

Google Play accumulates completed test purchases for each user but does not pass them on to financial processing. Over time, it automatically clears out the purchases by canceling them.

In some cases, you might want to manually cancel a test purchase to continue testing. For canceling purchases, you have these options:

  • Wait for the transactions to expire—Google Play clears completed test purchases 14 days after their purchase date.
  • Cancel purchases manually—you can go to the Google Wallet Merchant Center, look up the transaction, and then cancel it. You can find transactions by looking up their order numbers.

Testing with real transactions

As you prepare to launch an app that uses In-app Billing, you can make use of Google Play alpha/beta release options to do validation and load testing on your implementation before distributing the app to all of your users.

With alpha/beta test groups, real users (chosen by you) can install your app from Google Play and test your in-app products. They can make real purchases that result in actual charges to their accounts, using any of their normal payment methods in Google Play to make purchases. Note that if you include test license accounts in your alpha and beta distribution groups, those users will only be able to make test purchases.

Testing with Static Responses

We recommend that you first test your In-app Billing implementation using static responses from Google Play. This enables you to verify that your application is handling the primary Google Play responses correctly and that your application is able to verify signatures correctly. You can do this even if the app hasn't been published yet.

To test your implementation with static responses, you make an In-app Billing request using a special item that has a reserved product ID. Each reserved product ID returns a specific static response from Google Play. No money is transferred when you make In-app Billing requests with the reserved product IDs. Also, you cannot specify the form of payment when you make a billing request with a reserved product ID. Figure 1 shows the checkout flow for the reserved item that has the product ID android.test.purchased.

Figure 1.Wallet flow for the special reserved item android.test.purchased.

You do not need to list the reserved products in your application's product list. Google Play already knows about the reserved product IDs. Also, you do not need to upload your application to the Developer Console to perform static response tests with the reserved product IDs. You can simply install your application on a device, log into the device, and make billing requests using the reserved product IDs.

Note: Previously you could test an app by uploading an unpublished "draft" version. This functionality is no longer supported. However, you can test your app with static responses even before you upload it to the Google Play store. For more information, see Draft Apps are No Longer Supported.

There are four reserved product IDs for testing static In-app Billing responses:

  • android.test.purchased

    When you make an In-app Billing request with this product ID, Google Play responds as though you successfully purchased an item. The response includes a JSON string, which contains fake purchase information (for example, a fake order ID). In some cases, the JSON string is signed and the response includes the signature so you can test your signature verification implementation using these responses.

  • android.test.canceled

    When you make an In-app Billing request with this product ID Google Play responds as though the purchase was canceled. This can occur when an error is encountered in the order process, such as an invalid credit card, or when you cancel a user's order before it is charged.

  • android.test.refunded

    When you make an In-app Billing request with this product ID, Google Play responds as though the purchase was refunded. Refunds cannot be initiated through Google Play's in-app billing service. Refunds must be initiated by you (the merchant). After you process a refund request through your Google Wallet merchant account, a refund message is sent to your application by Google Play. This occurs only when Google Play gets notification from Google Wallet that a refund has been made. For more information about refunds, see Handling IN_APP_NOTIFY messages and In-app Billing Pricing.

  • android.test.item_unavailable

    When you make an In-app Billing request with this product ID, Google Play responds as though the item being purchased was not listed in your application's product list.

In some cases, the reserved items may return signed static responses, which lets you test signature verification in your application. The reserved items only return signed responses if the user running the application has a developer or test account.

To make an In-app Billing request with a reserved product ID, you simply construct a normal REQUEST_PURCHASE request, but instead of using a real product ID from your application's product list you use one of the reserved product IDs.

To test your application using the reserved product IDs, follow these steps:

  1. Install your application on an Android-powered device.

    You cannot use the emulator to test In-app Billing; you must install your application on a device to test In-app Billing.

    To learn how to install an application on a device, see Running on a device.

  2. Sign in to your device with your developer account.

    You do not need to use a test account if you are testing only with the reserved product IDs.

  3. Verify that your device is running a supported version of the Google Play application or the MyApps application.

    If your device is running Android 3.0, In-app Billing requires version 5.0.12 (or higher) of the MyApps application. If your device is running any other version of Android, In-app Billing requires version 2.3.4 (or higher) of the Google Play application. To learn how to check the version of the Google Play application, see Updating Google Play.

  4. Run your application and purchase the reserved product IDs.

Note: Making In-app Billing requests with the reserved product IDs overrides the usual Google Play production system. When you send an In-app Billing request for a reserved product ID, the quality of service will not be comparable to the production environment.

Setting Up for Test Purchases

After you finish your static response testing, and you verify that signature verification is working in your application, you can test your In-app Billing implementation by making actual in-app purchases. Testing real in-app purchases enables you to test the end-to-end In-app Billing experience, including the actual purchases from Google Play and the actual checkout flow that users will experience in your application.

Note: You can do end-to-end testing of your app by publishing it to an alpha distribution channel. This allows you to publish the app to the Google Play store, but limit its availability to just the testers you designate.

To test your In-app Billing implementation with actual in-app purchases, you will need to register at least one test account on the Google Play Developer Console. You cannot use your developer account to test the complete in-app purchase process because Google Wallet does not let you buy items from yourself. If you have not set up test accounts before, see Setting up test accounts.

A test account can purchase an item in your product list only if the item is published.

To test your In-app Billing implementation with actual purchases, follow these steps:

  1. Upload your application to the alpha distribution channel with the Developer Console.

    Note: Previously you could test an app by uploading an unpublished "draft" version. This functionality is no longer supported; instead, you must publish it to the alpha or beta distribution channel. For more information, see Draft Apps are No Longer Supported.

  2. Add items to the application's product list.

    Make sure that you publish the items (the application can remain unpublished). See Creating a product list to learn how to do this.

  3. Install your application on an Android-powered device.

    You cannot use the emulator to test In-app Billing; you must install your application on a device to test In-app Billing.

    To learn how to install an application on a device, see Running on a device.

  4. Verify that your device is running a supported version of the Google Play application or the MyApps application.

    If your device is running Android 3.0, In-app Billing requires version 5.0.12 (or higher) of the MyApps application. If your device is running any other version of Android, In-app Billing requires version 2.3.4 (or higher) of the Google Play application. To learn how to check the version of the Google Play application, see Updating Google Play.

  5. Make in-app purchases in your application.

Note: The only way to change the primary account on a device is to do a factory reset, making sure you log on with your primary account first.

When you are finished testing your In-app Billing implementation, you are ready to publish your application on Google Play. You can follow the normal steps for preparing, signing, and publishing on Google Play.

Draft Apps are No Longer Supported

Previously, you could publish a "draft" version of your app for testing. This functionality is no longer supported. Instead, there are two ways you can test how a pre-release app functions on the Google Play store:

  • You can publish an app to the alpha or beta distribution channels. This makes the app available on the Google Play store, but only to the testers you put on a "whitelist".
  • In a few cases, you can test Google Play functionality with an unpublished app. For example, you can test an unpublished app's in-app billing support by using static responses, special reserved product IDs that always return a specific result (like "purchased" or "refunded").