Google merged Android Market, Google Music, and Google eBookstore to model Google Play which was launched on March 6, 2012. Google Play is a digital content management system operated by Google.
Google Play is the official appstore for Android devices, using which users can flip through and download apps of their choice. If you are familiar with Apple’s offerings, you can easily compare it to iTunes.
The Google Play banner offers the following services: Google Play Music, Google Play Books, Google Play Newsstand, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Games. The content available for download includes music, magazines, books, movies, television programs, games and much more. The applications available for download may either be free or charged.
If you have an app targeted to specific customers who use Android devices, go ahead and submit it to the Google Play Store, thereby making it accessible to your clients. The following steps detail how to proceed in this regard.
Step 1: Register as a Publisher
- Visit the Google Play Developer Console.
- Enter basic information about your developer identity — name, email address, and so on. You can modify this information later.
- Read and accept the Developer Distribution Agreement for your country or region. Note that apps and store listings that you publish on Google Play must comply with the Developer Program Policies and US export law.
- Pay a $25 USD registration fee using Google payments. If you don’t have a Google payments account, you can quickly set one up during the process.
- When your registration is verified, you’ll be notified at the email address you entered during registration.
Step 2: Create a Google Payments Merchant Account
If you want to sell priced apps, in-app products, or subscriptions, you’ll need a Google payments merchant account. You can set one up at any time, but first review the list of merchant countries.
To set up a Google payments merchant account:
- Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
- Open Financial Reports on the side navigation.
- Click Setup a Merchant Account Now.
This takes you to the Google payments site; you’ll need information about your business to complete this step.
Step 3: Delve into the Developer Console
When your registration is verified, you can sign in to your Developer Console, which is the home for your app publishing operations and tools on Google Play.
The Google Play Developer Console is the hub for your publishing operations and tools.
Upload apps, build your product pages, configure prices and distribution, and publish. You can manage all phases of publishing on Google Play through the Developer Console, from any web browser.
Once you’ve registered and received a verification by email, you can sign in to your Google Play Developer Console and perform the following functions.
Start in All Applications Menu
Start in All Applications, which gives you a quick overview of your apps, lets you jump to stats, reviews, and product details, or upload a new app.
Manage Your Account Details
Specify basic developer profile information about yourself or your company on the accounts detail page. This identifies you to Google Play and your customers. You can go back at any time to edit the information and change your settings.
Your developer profile contains:
- Developer name — displayed on your store listing page and elsewhere on Google Play.
- Contact information — used by Google only, it isn’t seen by your customers.
- Web site URL — displayed on your store listing page.
On the account details page you can also add restricted access for marketers and other teams, register for a merchant account, or set up test accounts for Google Play licensing.
Link Your Merchant Account to Your Developer Profile
If you want to sell apps or in-app products, link your Google payments merchant account to your developer profile. Google Play uses the linked merchant account for financial and tax identification, as well as for monthly payouts from sales.
Manage Multiple User Accounts
Set up user accounts for other team members to access different parts of your Developer Console.
The first account registered is the account owner, with full access to all parts of the console. The owner can add user accounts and manage console access.
For example, an owner can grant users access to publishing and app configuration, but not to financial reports. Learn how to set up multiple accounts now.
Manage Store Listing Details
Use the Developer Console to set up a Store Listing page. This is the home for your app in Google Play. It’s the page users see on their mobile phones or on the web to learn about your app and download it.
Upload custom brand assets, screenshots, and videos to highlight what’s great about your app. Provide a localized description, add notes about the latest version, and more. You can update your store listing at any time.
Upload and Instantly Publish
From the Developer Console you can quickly upload and publish a release-ready Android application package file. The app is a draft until you publish it, at which time Google Play makes your store listing page and app available to users—your app appears in the store listings within hours, not weeks.
Once your app is published, you can update it as often as you want: Change prices, configuration, and distribution options at any time, without needing to update your app binary.
As you add features or address code issues, you can publish an updated binary at any time. The new version is available almost immediately and existing customers are notified that an update is ready for download.
Users can also accept automatic updates to your app, so that your updates are delivered and installed as soon as you publish them. You can unpublish your apps app at any time.
Perform Alpha and Beta Testing
It’s always valuable to get real-world feedback from users, especially before the launch. Google Play makes it easy to distribute pre-release versions of your app to alpha and beta test groups anywhere in the world.
In the APK section of your Google Play Developer Console you’ll find the Alpha Testing and Beta Testing tabs. Here you can upload versions of your apps’ APK files and define a list of testers as a Google Group or Google+ Community. Once this is done you’ll receive a URL that you can forward to your testers, from which they can opt-in to the testing program.
After opting-in, your testers then go to your app’s product page, and when they download the app, Google Play will deliver them the alpha or beta version as appropriate. Incidentally, if a user happens to be opted-in to both your testing groups, Google Play will always deliver them the alpha test version.
Note that users cannot provide feedback and reviews on alpha and beta versions of your apps. To gather feedback you could use the Google Group or Google+ Community, or setup an email address on your own website.
You can use these testing programs to optimize your apps, help with rollout to new markets, and start building your community. There is also more information on using beta test in the Launch Checklist and Localization Checklist.
Manage Staged Rollouts
You can also stage the rollout of your apps using the Production tab in the APK section of your Google Play Developer Console. Here you can define the percentage of user who’ll be able to download your app.
Staging your rollout will help limit the impact of unexpected bugs or server load and enable you to gauge user feedback with an unbiased sample of users. Users can rate and review your apps during staged roll outs, so if you’re hesitant, start your rollout to a small percentage of users. Be sure to watch for and respond to any negative reviews.
Note that rollbacks aren’t supported due to the app versioning requirements of the Android platform. If you need to rollback, consider launching a previous APK with a new version number. However, this practice should be used only as a last resort, as users will lose access to new features and your old app may not be forward-compatible with your server changes or data formats. So be sure to run alpha and beta tests of your updates.
Handle Multiple APK Support
In most cases, a single app package (APK) is all you need, and it’s usually the easiest way to manage and maintain the app. However, if you need to deliver a different APK to different devices, Google Play provides a way to do that.
Multiple APK support lets you create multiple app packages that use the same package name but differ in their OpenGL texture compression formats, screen-size support, or Android platform versions supported. You can simply upload all the APKs under a single product listing and Google Play selects the best ones to deliver to users, based on the characteristics of their devices.
You can also upload up to two secondary downloads for each published APK, including multiple APKs, using the APK Expansion Files option. Each expansion file can be up to 2GB and contain any type of code or assets. Google Play hosts them for free and handles the download of the files as part of the normal app installation.
Manage Selling and Pricing of Your Products
You have tools to set prices for your apps and in-app products. Your app can be free to download or priced, requiring payment before download.
- If you publish your app as free, it must remain free for the life of the app. Free apps can be downloaded by all users in Google Play.
- If you publish it as priced, you can later change it to free. Priced apps can be purchased and downloaded only by users who have registered a form of payment in Google Play.
See Supported Locations for Distributing Applications for a list of countries where you can distribute or sell your apps.
You can also offer in-app products and subscriptions, whether the app is free or priced. Set prices separately for priced apps, in-app products, and subscriptions.
When users browse your app product pages or initiate a purchase, Google Play shows them the price they’ll be charged in their local currency.
For each product, you initially set a default price in your own currency. If you do no more, Google Play will automatically set local prices once a month based on the US-Dollar price for your app.
However, Google Play gives you complete control over how you price your products in each country. To start, you can manually set fixed local prices from the default price, using the auto-convert prices now feature.
You can then review these prices and set new ones for any countries you wish — the price for each country is independent, so you can adjust one price without affecting others. For most countries, the price you set is the final price charged to users, including taxes.
For more on pricing your apps, see Expand into New Markets.
Manage Your Apps as In-app Products
You can sell in-app products and subscriptions using Google Play In-app Billing as a way to monetize your apps. In-app products are one-time purchases, while subscriptions are recurring charges on a monthly or annual basis.
In the In-app Products section for a specific published or draft APK, you can:
- Create product lists for in-app products and subscriptions.
- Set prices.
- Publish the products with the app or withdraw obsolete products.
Manage Different Distribution Controls (Geographic / Capabilities)
You can manage which countries and territories your apps will distribute to. For some countries, you can choose which carriers you want to target. You can also see the list of devices your app is available for, based on any distribution rules declared in its manifest file.
You can use controls in the Google Play Developer Console to easily manage the geographic distribution of your apps, without any changes in your application binary. You can specify which countries and territories you want to distribute to, and even which carriers (for some countries).
When users visit the store, Google Play makes sure that they are in one of your targeted countries before downloading your app. You can change your country and carrier targeting at any time just by saving changes in the Google Play Developer Console.
To help you market to users around the world, you can localize your store listing, including app details and description, promotional graphics, screenshots, and more.
Google Play also lets you control distribution according to device features or capabilities that your app depends on. There are several types of dependencies that the app can define in its manifest, such as hardware features, OpenGL texture compression formats, libraries, Android platform versions, and others.
When you upload your app, Google Play reads the dependencies and sets up any necessary distribution rules. For technical information about declaring dependencies, read Filters on Google Play.
For pinpoint control over distribution, Google Play lets you see all of the devices your app is available to based on its dependencies (if any). From the Google Play Developer Console, you can list the supported devices and even exclude specific devices if needed.
Portions of this page are reproduced from work created and shared by the Android Open Source Project and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution License.
Interested in getting an Android app developed for your organization? At Cabot, we take care of all that’s involved in developing an Android app and getting it published in the Google Play Store. Allow us to assist you!