Android

Overview

The Google Play Store is the most widely-used Android app store. This guide focuses on how to distribute a BeeWare app on the Google Play Store.

Build the app in release mode

Use Briefcase to build a release bundle for your application:

(venv) $ briefcase package android
[hello-world] Building Android App Bundle and APK in release mode...
...
[hello-world] Packaged android/Hello World/app/build/outputs/bundle/release/app-release.aab
(venv) $ briefcase package android
[hello-world] Building Android App Bundle and APK in release mode...
...
[hello-world] Packaged android/Hello World/app/build/outputs/bundle/release/app-release.aab
 (venv) C:\...>briefcase package android
[hello-world] Building Android App Bundle and APK in release mode...
...
[hello-world] Packaged android\Hello World\app\build\outputs\bundle\release\app-release.aab

This will result in an Android App Bundle file being generated. An Android App Bundle is a publishing format that includes all your app’s compiled code and resources.

Note

AAB and APK

You may have heard of the “Android Package”, or APK format. The AAB format is a newer format that simplifies the process of uploading your app to the Play Store, allows Google to manage the signing process, and allows the app bundle that is installed on your end-user’s device to be smaller.

Sign the Android App Bundle

Create code signing identity

Before you sign the APK files, you need to create a code signing identity.

The Google Play Store requires that the Android App Bundle is signed before it is uploaded, using the Java jarsigner tool.

In this example below, we assume your code signing identity is stored in upload-key-helloworld.jks under .android within your home folder. We also assume that the app’s formal name is Hello World. You will need to change the path to the AAB file based on your app’s formal name.

C:\...> %HOMEPATH%\.briefcase\tools\java\bin\jarsigner.exe -verbose -sigalg SHA1withRSA -digestalg SHA1 -keystore %HOMEPATH%\.android\upload-key-helloworld.jks "android\Hello World\app\build\outputs\bundle\release\app-release.aab" upload-key -storepass android
   adding: META-INF/MANIFEST.MF
   adding: META-INF/UPLOAD-K.SF
   adding: META-INF/UPLOAD-K.RSA
  signing: BundleConfig.pb
  signing: BUNDLE-METADATA/com.android.tools.build.libraries/dependencies.pb
  signing: base/assets/python/app/README
...
  signing: base/manifest/AndroidManifest.xml
  signing: base/assets.pb
  signing: base/native.pb
  signing: base/resources.pb
>>> Signer
  X.509, CN=Upload Key
  [trusted certificate]

jar signed.

Warning:
The signer's certificate is self-signed.

You can safely ignore the warning about the signer’s certificate being self-signed. Google will manage the process of signing the app with a verified certificate when you upload your app for distribution.

Add the app to the Google Play store

To publish to the Google Play store, you will need a Google Play Developer account, which costs ~$25 USD per year. You will then need to provide information for your app’s store listing including an icon and screenshots, upload the app to Google, and finally roll the app out to production.

Register for a Google Play Developer account

Registering for a Google Play Developer account requires a Google Account. You will need to pay registration fee and accept an agreement in the process.

To check if you already have a Google Play Developer account, you can visit the Google Play console. If you see a button to Publish an Android App on Google Play or a button to Create Application, you can skip this step.

To create your Google Play developer account, pay the fee, and review the agreements, follow Google’s documentation.

Create a listing

Visit the Google Play console. You will see a button labeled Publish an Android App on Google Play or a button to Create Application. Click it.

Once you’ve done that, click Create Application. Choose a language and write a brief app title, up to 50 characters. We suggest making this the same as your app’s Formal Name in its pyproject.toml.

This will take you to Store Listing section of your app. You will need to provide a short app description (up to 80 characters) and a full description (up to 4000 characters). Your app metadata may be helpful here.

You will also need to provide a collection of assets that will be used to promote your application:

  • A 512x512px icon. This will be the icon that appears in the Play Store. It should match the icon you set on the application itself.

  • At least 2 screen screenshots of the app. Google recommends using a screenshot without framing. One way to capture such a screenshot is with the Android emulator’s screenshot functionality (the camera icon on the simulator controls). This allows your screenshot to contain just what appears on the screen rather than a picture of the virtual device. This will store a file in your Desktop folder.

    Screenshots must be at least 320px on their smallest dimension, no larger than 3480px on their largest dimension, and can’t have an spect ratio more extreme than 2:1. A screenshot from the Android emulator typically fulfills these requirements.

  • A 1024x500px feature graphic. A feature graphic visually represents the purpose of the app or your logo and can optionally include a screenshot of the app in use, typically including device framing.

Google Play supports optional graphic assets including promo videos, TV banners, and 360 degree stereoscopic images. See also Google’s advice on graphic assets.

Once you’ve completed the store listing, you’ll need to fill out a range of other details about your app, including the category where it should appear in the Play Store, pricing details, details about the app’s content and it’s suitability for children, and contact details for you as a developer. The navigation pane (typically on the left side of the screen) contains grayed out check marks covering all the sections with required details. Visit each of these sections in turn; when you have met the requirements of each section, the checkmark will turn green. Once all the checkmarks are green, you’re ready to release your app.

Create a release

Click App releases in the navigation pane. To produce a production app (i.e., an app in the public Play Store that anyone can download) click Manage within the Production track, then select Create Release. If prompted to enable App Signing by Google Play, click Continue.

Note

Non-production releases

The Play Store also supports releasing your app for internal, alpha and beta testing. Google’s documentation contains more details about creating test releases.

In an earlier section of this tutorial, we used briefcase publish and jarsigner to create a signed Android App Bundle file. It is stored at android/Hello World/app/build/outputs/bundle/release/app-release.aab (subtituting the name of your own app as necessary). Upload this file to the Google Play console within Browse Files under Android App Bundles and APKs to add.

You will need to write release notes for the app in the What’s new in this release? section. If this is your first upload of the app, you can use something like “Initial application release.” Review your application details,

Once you have answered those questions, you can switch back to the App releases tab. Click Edit release, save your changes, and click Start Rollout To Production.

The Google Play Store will now review your app. You will be emailed if any updates are required; otherwise, after a day or two, your app will be rolled out to the Play Store.

Publish an update

At some point, you’ll want to publish an updated version of your application. Generate a fresh AAB file, signed with the same certificate as your original release. Then log into the Play Store console, and select your application. Select Release Management in the navigation bar, then App Releases.

At this point, the release process is the same as it was for your initial release; create a release, upload your AAB file, and submit the application for rollout.