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In this chapter, you’ll complete the app publishing process and discover additional ways to distribute your app. You’ll also go through the Alpha and Beta testing process to make sure your app is ready to share with the world.
Note: You don’t have to release your app through Alpha and Beta channels. You’re free to take your initial release straight to production!
Google provides three different release types: Alpha, Beta and Production.
The Alpha and Beta release types provide an excellent way to get feedback to help make sure your final release is as polished and stable as possible. The only requirement for testers is an Android device and an @gmail or G Suite account.
Time to dive into the details of each release type as well as open vs. closed testing.
You’ll start by creating an Alpha release. This release is typically done with a small group of internal testers. An Alpha release may not be stable yet, but it still needs to be tested in release mode on real devices.
Determining the content rating
Google provides a questionnaire that you must complete to determine your app rating. Click Content rating on the left, and click CONTINUE to start the survey.
Pricing and distribution
You also need to provide pricing information and specify where your app will be distributed.
Click on App content in the menu. Google has now separated the Designed for Families program into its own section. In the App content section you let Google know the target audience of your app, and information about its contents. Click on the Start button to begin the content survey.
Before moving on to Beta testing, let’s take a quick look at how to use Version codes through the different release phases. Typically, you want your Alpha release to have the highest version code since it should be testing the most recent changes. Your Beta release will have the next highest version code, and Production will have the lowest version code.
Use the Beta option for publishing to select users that may not be internal to your organization, or run an Open Beta that lets anyone on the Play Store sign up for Beta testing.
Once the Alpha and Beta testing are complete, you’re ready for the final release to Production! This is as simple as promoting the final Beta version to Production.
Here are some final tips to help keep your app in top shape.
Other publishing methods
In some cases, you may need to distribute an app without going through the Play Store. It might be an enterprise app that will never go public, or it might be a side project that you’re distributing to friends and family.
Email requires the least amount of work on your part. All you do is attach the APK file to an email, and have your users open the email on a compatible Android device.
Another option is to host the APK file on your website. You can either send a link to the download location or point the users to the download page on your site. Whether the user taps on the link from an email or the browser on the device, they’ll be prompted to install the APK.
Other app stores
There are some other app stores available for publishing your app; you should take time to explore which options are available. One of the most well-known stores is the Amazon Appstore. Amazon’s Appstore is installed by default on Amazon devices such as the Fire TV and Fire Tablet. It contains apps made especially for the Amazon products as well as many apps that can also be found in the Google Play store. There is no registration fee for developers on the Amazon Appstore, and it also offers some unique monetization models.