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Playing the GooglePlay Game

Playing the Google Play game; how to publish your Android app

So you have an Android app sitting on your computer, waiting to be published, and you came across this guide to help you with it. Well, you’re in the right place. Publishing your first app can be a weird mix of excitement and fear, but it doesn’t have to be if you know exactly what’s going on. Sure, Google (and Apple) tell you what needs to be done, but we all need someone to hold our hand a bit, right?
If you’re also developing an iOS app, make sure to check out our other app-publishing guide where we tell you all the secrets of making it in the Apple ecosystem!
The main difference between publishing apps for Google and Apple is that Apple’s ecosystem is more streamlined. It’s easy to see in our first guide that the biggest challenge here is simply connecting all of the services Apple uses, and making them talk to each other properly. Once you do that, you’re pretty much all set. Google does things a bit differently, and while it is a bit more of a challenge, it’s something you’ll get used to after your first release.


The challenges ahead

The biggest challenge for Android is the scale of the ecosystem. While the upcoming iOS 15 will stop supporting the iPhone 6S and original iPhone SE, bringing the supported device number to 16 phones and 10 iPads, that’s a miniscule number when you think of the number of devices running Android. And while Apple keeps things pretty uniformed, Androids come with a lot of different screen sizes, resolutions, refresh rates, processors, cameras, RAM modules and more. If you’re developing for Android, your job is to make your app work on as many phones as possible, which is a Herculean task. So, before you dive into the Play Store, make sure you got this covered, okay?

What will we do?

Okay, before you start make sure you have your Android app fully prepared and ready to roll. This means your .aab file is all done, checked and bulletproof. Run everything one more time, check device supports, perhaps new Android versions etc. If all is well, jump onto the next step! 

Create a Developer account

If you don’t have it already, a developer account is a must for making your apps available on the Play Store. Weirdly, you need to pay $25 to make your account and will probably need to provide some sort of photo ID to make sure you’re the one you say you are. The rest of the process is straightforward – you’ve made accounts before, right? 

Once you have your account, you’ll also have your Google Play Console page. This is the place where the magic will happen in just a few minutes!

Create your app

In the right corner of the Play Console, there’s a blue button labeled Create App. Click it! This is where you start entering the app information. The questions are also pretty basic; you need to know whether your app is a game or not, is it free or paid, and check a few boxes. That’s it for now.

Complete the Dashboard tasks

Okay, so this is where things get tricky. While Apple has everything laid out on one page, Google likes to have a more “Android-y” way with things, so once you’ve made your app in the Console page, you’ll be taken to the dashboard. Google sets the tasks in a way they see fit, but you can do it any way you like, as long as they’re done in the end. There are also some things you don’t need to do, for example you don’t need to have a closed and open beta tests if you don’t want to.

In this guide, we’ll skip those and focus on getting things out into the world ASAP! 

Set up your app

First we need to click on the dashboard option called “Set up your app”. Convenient, right? Setting up the app means providing Google with the information about its content. In the App content screen, you’ll have to tell Google whether your app has ads, restrictions in access, content ratings, what is the target audience for it and more. All of these menus are straightforward, and you’ll probably make your way through them very fast. 

Your best tool here is knowledge about your app. We can’t tell you where to click because every app is different, so it’s best that you read everything, and of course, that you don’t lie about your app. Google will find out sooner or later.

Once the App content screen has nothing but checkboxes, you’re ready for your listing!

Perfect your store listing

The next step is to make your listing as good as you can. Your store listing is the page users will see once they click on your app in the store. You’ll get here from the left drop down menu, anc clicking Store settings. From there you’ll add your contact details, and tags.

After that, click on Main store listing, and start typing in those details! This is arguably the most important part, because you type your official app name, as well as descriptions. We don’t even have to tell you how important it is to have a good description for your app, so make sure you spend some time here before you continue.

Next come the graphics. Simply upload your app icon and graphics here, Google will tell you about the best resolution for each one. As always, make sure these graphics are high quality, not just cropped phone pictures. Try to put yourself in the position of the user – you wouldn’t like to see bad photos when finding an app, right? 

Making your way to production

After everything’s set up the way you want, some sections on the Console will disappear, which means you’ve done everything right. To go into actual production, you’ll click on the Production menu on the left side, under Release.

This is where you’ll first add countries where your app will be available, which is important to note. Sometimes you just want your app to be available to a certain number of countries and users, perhaps because you’re targeting a niche audience or language. This is where you make that happen. 

Finally, we’ll add the app! Click on Releases, and upload your app to the Console! After it’s uploaded, fill in the release name so you can know which one it is, and other info such as release notes. This is something you’ll do with every update of your app.

Roll out!

Once you got your release uploaded and everything set up – click on Start roll-out to Production and that’s it! Your app will be available in all supported countries in a matter of hours or days, depending how much time Google takes to review it. 

Once that’s done, you’re all set with your first app! Since this is a quick guide, we didn’t talk about testing, but note that if you’re very serious with app building, generating attention and hype for your app through social media and beta tests can help you reach more users. Since the Google Play Store is a pretty crowded place, your best course of action is to do as much as you can to separate yourself from the competition. This means design, detailed information, and a solid content plan. If your app is paid or has built-in purchases, make sure those are also outlined well and set up. The Google Console can be a bit unwelcoming, but the best advice we can give you is to click at all the things and get used to it – it can reward you very well.


2021 / 09 / 06

5 minutes

Domagoj Bagarić