Join David Gassner for an in-depth discussion in this video Distribution through the Google Play store, part of Distributing Android Apps (2014).
The Google Play store is among the most popular and easiest places to deploy your apps. Nearly all Android devices sold by the big cellphone providers in North America, Europe, and Australia have Google Play installed already. And users download over 1.5 billion copies of apps every month. You can reach the Play Store through a standard computer's web browser, such as I'm doing here. Or through the Play Store app on a supported Android device. The app store makes it very easy to find your app if they know its name.
For example, I'll search for my app, Plain Old Notes. This is the app that I'll be using as an example throughout this course. And it's already available in the Play Store. I'll type the name of the app and click the search button, and the app appears first in the results. Google Play is designed to make app distribution easy and fast. As I mentioned, it's distributed broadly, and it's available currently on around 40% of Android devices in the market.
This might seem a little low, but this number takes into account all the millions of devices that are used in Asia, Africa, and other areas, for Google Play might not be as popular or whither other more language specific app stores. Unlike Apple's and Amazon's app store, there isn't a manual review process for apps that you place in the Google Play store. Google doesn't test your app. That's your job, and other than running scans for malware, they take what you submit and make it available to their users without asking questions.
As a result, your time to publication of your app is usually just a few hours from the time you submit it. To make sure that apps aren't evil, the Play Store distribution system does employ some basic safeguards that are primarily in the user's hands. For example, all Android apps are sandboxed. That means they can only touch areas of persistent storage and other device resources, for which they have permission. When a user installs an app, they're presented with a list of permissions that you, the developer, have registered.
And they have an opportunity to cancel that installation. Second, users with Android 4.2 and above have a feature named Verify Apps that's turned on by default. This feature kicks in when an app is downloaded. It compares the app to a large database of known malware, and if there's a match, the user sees a warning and is given an opportunity to cancel the installation. The Verify Apps feature is also available to older versions of Android if the user manually updates the Google Play Store app on their device.
The point is that most users who have Google Play come to trust the apps in the store and won't go to the trouble of downloading apps from other sources. By distributing your app through this trusted channel, it inherits that trust. When you upload an app to the Google Play Store, you'll be asked for some vital information. You'll obviously upload the APK file, that's your packaged app. But you also need to know how you want to price the app, whether it's going to be a paid app or free, and whether you want to use other monetization strategies, such as in-app purchases.
I'll show you those options during the course demonstrations. You'll provide a description of the app, pricing, and marketing graphics. And then once you've published the app, you'll have access to all sorts of information about how your app is doing. You'll get to this information, through the Android developer console, the same user interface you used to submit the app. You'll have reports to tell you how many copies of your app have been downloaded or purchased. That's the number of installs, which versions of Android and which devices are being used, which countries and languages, and so on.
For most developers, the Google Play Store is the first and most important distribution channel, it provides access to a massive user base and does so without significant cost beyond what it takes to develop and test the app in the first place. But it misses a large and important segment of the Android app market. Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets don't have Google Play Store installed. And to install it, a user would need to root the device, or otherwise bypass Amazon's version of the operating system.
Something most users won't do. To get your app to Amazon's customers, you'll also need to distribute it through their App Store, and I'll describe that App Store next.
- Packaging an Android app
- Distributing through Google vs. Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble
- Exporting the APK file
- Testing the app
- Shrinking and protecting an app with ProGuard
- Creating and uploading screenshots to Google Play
- Adding in-app products
- Tracking app usage and revenue