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Publish Your App

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  • Learn how to publish Android apps.
  • Find out how to prepare apps for release.
  • Learn how to release apps to users.

In this document

  1. Preparing your app for release
  2. Releasing your app to users
  3. Releasing through a website
  4. User opt-in for unknown apps and sources

See also

  1. Publishing on Google Play

Publishing is the general process that makes your Android applications available to users. When you publish an Android application you perform two main tasks:

Usually, you release your application through an application marketplace, such as Google Play. However, you can also release applications by sending them directly to users or by letting users download them from your own website.

The publishing process is typically performed after you finish testing your application in a debug environment. Also, as a best practice, your application should meet all of your release criteria for functionality, performance, and stability before you begin the publishing process.

Preparing your app for release

Preparing your application for release is a multi-step process that involves the following tasks:

You may have to perform several other tasks as part of the preparation process. For example, you will need to get a private key for signing your application. You will also need to create an icon for your application, and you may want to prepare an End User License Agreement (EULA) to protect your person, organization, and intellectual property.

When you are finished preparing your application for release you will have a signed .apk file that you can distribute to users.

To learn how to prepare your application for release, see Preparing for Release in the Dev Guide. This topic provides step-by-step instructions for configuring and building a release version of your application.

Releasing your app to users

You can release your Android applications several ways. Usually, you release applications through an application marketplace such as Google Play, but you can also release applications on your own website or by sending an application directly to a user.

Releasing through an app marketplace

If you want to distribute your apps to the broadest possible audience, releasing through an app marketplace such as Google Play is ideal.

Google Play is the premier marketplace for Android apps and is particularly useful if you want to distribute your applications to a large global audience. However, you can distribute your apps through any app marketplace you want or you can use multiple marketplaces.

Releasing your apps on Google Play

Google Play is a robust publishing platform that helps you publicize, sell, and distribute your Android applications to users around the world. When you release your applications through Google Play you have access to a suite of developer tools that let you analyze your sales, identify market trends, and control who your applications are being distributed to. You also have access to several revenue-enhancing features such as in-app billing and application licensing. The rich array of tools and features, coupled with numerous end-user community features, makes Google Play the premier marketplace for selling and buying Android applications.

Releasing your application on Google Play is a simple process that involves three basic steps:

For information complete information, see Google Play.

Releasing your application through email

Screenshot showing the graphical user interface users see when you send them an app

Figure 1. Users can simply click Install when you send them an application via email.

The easiest and quickest way to release your application is to send it to a user through email. To do this, you prepare your application for release and then attach it to an email and send it to a user. When the user opens your email message on their Android-powered device the Android system will recognize the APK and display an Install Now button in the email message (see figure 1). Users can install your application by touching the button.

Note: The Install Now button shown in Figure 1 appears only if a user has configured their device to allow installation from unknown sources and has opened your email with the native Gmail application.

Distributing applications through email is convenient if you are sending your application to only a few trusted users, but it provides few protections from piracy and unauthorized distribution; that is, anyone you send your application to can simply forward it to someone else.

Releasing through a website

If you do not want to release your app on a marketplace like Google Play, you can make the app available for download on your own website or server, including on a private or enterprise server. To do this, you must first prepare your application for release in the normal way. Then all you need to do is host the release-ready APK file on your website and provide a download link to users.

When users browse to the download link from their Android-powered devices, the file is downloaded and Android system automatically starts installing it on the device. However, the installation process will start automatically only if the user has configured their Settings to allow the installation of apps from unknown sources.

Although it is relatively easy to release your application on your own website, it can be inefficient. For example, if you want to monetize your application you will have to process and track all financial transactions yourself and you will not be able to use Google Play's In-app Billing service to sell in-app products. In addition, you will not be able to use the Licensing service to help prevent unauthorized installation and use of your application.

User opt-in for unknown apps and sources

Android protects users from inadvertent download and install of apps from locations other than a first-party app store, such as Google Play, which is trusted. Android blocks such installs until the user opts into allowing the installation of apps from other sources. The opt-in process depends on the version of Android running on the user's device:

Screenshot showing the settings screen for accepting install of
       unknown apps from different sources.

Figure 2. The Install unknown apps system settings screen, where users grant permission for a particular source to install unknown apps.

Install unknown apps

On devices running Android 8.0 (API level 26) and higher, users must grant permission to install apps from a source that isn't a first-party app store. To do so, they must enable the Allow app installs setting for that source within the Install unknown apps system settings screen. Figure 2 illustrates this process.

Note: Users can change this setting for a particular source at any time. Therefore, a source that installs unknown apps should always call canRequestPackageInstalls() to check whether the user has granted that source permission to install unknown apps. If this method returns false, the source should prompt the user to re-enable the Allow app installs setting for that source.

Unknown sources

Screenshot showing the setting for accepting download and install of
       apps from unknown sources.

Figure 3. The Unknown sources setting, which determines whether users can install apps that aren't downloaded from Google Play.

In order for users to allow the installation of apps from non-first-party sources on devices running Android 7.1.1 (API level 25) and lower, they should enable the Unknown sources setting in Settings > Security, as shown in Figure 3.

Note: When users attempt to install an unknown app on a device running Android 7.1.1 (API level 25) or lower, the system sometimes shows a dialog that asks the user whether they want to allow only one particular unknown app to be installed. In almost all cases, users should allow only one unknown app installation at a time if the option is available to them.

In either case, users need to make this configuration change before they can download and install unknown apps onto their devices.

Note: Some network providers do not allow users to install apps from unknown sources.

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