Releasing your first Android app

In the previous article in this series, we discussed how to turn your idea into an Android app.

Seeing an app that you made, running on an Android device for the first time, is always an exciting moment! The next step is just as exciting: releasing your app to the public, and watching the download numbers climb.

If making your app available to millions of users sounds hopelessly mysterious, fear not — this article will cover everything you need to know in order to prepare your app for release and launch it out into the world.

Releasing an app

Let's take a look at what you need to do in order to release your newly created Android app. There are a few topics that you will need to think about during this phase of the app creation process and this article will walk you through them and take away any of the worries you might have. Here are the topics that will be discussed in this article:

Let’s take a look at what you need to do in order to release your newly created Android app. Each of these topics will be discussed in this article:

  1. Monetize your app: Decide if you are going to monetize your app, and if so how.
  2. Build and test: Build a final version of your app and test it to make sure that everything works.
  3. Choose an app store: Choose the app store(s) where you will upload your app.
  4. Prepare your store listing: Get all of the icons, screenshots, and description text you need to publish your app to the app store(s) that you have chosen.
  5. Promote your app: Promote your app after release to gain more users and make more money.
  6. Plan your update schedule: Decide when you will release the next version of your app.

A good companion to this article is the Android Developers Launch Checklist. It's aimed at developers who need to program their apps from scratch, so there are some things that won't apply to Andromo users because they are already taken care of for you -- however there is still a wealth of information in it for anyone looking to release an Android app.

Monetizing Your App

Now that you are ready to release your app you need to decide whether you want to monetize your app, and if so, how you want to do that. Most Andromo App Maker users who want to monetize their apps will do so using one or more of the available ad networks.

Monetizing with Ads

Adding an advertising network to your app is very simple if you follow these general steps for each ad network you wish to support:

  1. Sign up: Create a developer account on the ad network you wish to monetize with.
  2. Get the required id(s): Each ad unit you enable within Andromo needs one or more unique ids that will identify your app with the ad network. The ad network will give this to you.
  3. Enable the ad unit and supply your id: Now you need to enable the ad unit within your project on Andromo.com and enter the id the ad network gave you.
  4. Rebuild your app: Rebuild your app and you should start seeing the ads show up.

Note: Do not click on your ads! If you click on your own ads there is a very high chance you will get banned from that ad network and lose all your ad revenue. Be careful and do not risk your future earning potential for all of your apps. It isn't worth it.

More information on monetizing your app via ads can be found in the Monetization Options section of our knowledge base.

Selling Your App

While the steps to adding an ad unit are quite generic, the steps required when selling your app through an app store are not. What is needed in order to sell an app within a certain app store, is a store-specific issue. As a result you will have to look into the help section of each app store you choose to sell in for more information. More about app stores can be found in the Choose an app store section.

Building and Testing

When you are ready to release it's a good idea to build the final version of your app and test it to make sure that everything works the way you want it to. Here is a helpful checklist you can use when testing your final build:

App Launcher

  1. Does you app icon look good? Is it the icon you want?
  2. Is the name of your app spelled correctly?

Dashboard

  1. Does your dashboard look good in both portrait and landscape?
  2. Are the activity titles and activity descriptions correct and spelled properly?
  3. Does each activity icon look good?

Activities

  1. Does each activity work?
  2. Are all the settings within the app correct? Photo titles, RSS thumbnails, HTML, etc.

About Dialog

  1. Is the version of your app correct?
  2. Is the information text correct?

Miscellaneous

  1. If you have enabled ads, are they displaying? (If you just created your ad network account it may take as long as a day for ads to start being served to your app.)
  2. Does your style look good across all of your app's activities?
  3. Does your action bar look good? App Icon, color scheme, etc.

You should also look at the Android Developer App Quality help topic to ensure that your app is at a quality level that will help it to succeed.

If everything looks good it's time to take your app public!

Choose an app store

Choosing an app store might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Here is a short list of app stores that we recommend you look at:

Google Play

The default app store for most developers around the world is Google Play. This is the app store run by Google and should probably be the first app store you target. In order to create a Google Play Developer account you must pay a one-time fee of $25 USD. If money or geographical restrictions are not an issue, this should be the first app store you upload your app to. We have a knowledge base article that details How to put your app in Google Play.

If you are going to target Google Play you should also watch the Google Developers Live video, Root Access: How your startup can succeed in the Play Store for some tips on succeeding in the Google Play app store.

Amazon Appstore

The Amazon Appstore usually costs $99.00USD per year to sign up, but right now the fee is being waived, so sign up for free account and upload your app. More information is available in our knowledge base article Making Kindle Fire Apps with Andromo. Amazon's Kindle Fire is one of the best selling Android tablet lines to date, so don't ignore this app store.

Samsung Apps

Samsung is the most popular Android device maker in the world, accounting for over 31% of all smartphones sold. They also happen to have their their own app store that's available to all of those devices: Samsung Apps. It's free to set up a developer account and free to upload your app. While it might not be the first app store you upload your apps to, it should be on your list of app stores to include.

Regional App Stores

In many countries around the world (e.g. South Korea), regional or carrier branded app stores are very important. That means that if your app targets or becomes popular in a specific country, it makes sense to research which app stores are popular within that country and be sure to upload your app to the most popular.

Other App Stores

Here are a few other app stores that you might want to look at:

A larger list of app stores can be found on the One Platform Foundation website.

See What Works

There are a lot of app stores out there, and most of them will let you submit your app for free. Some aren't worth the time it takes to create an account, while others will give you more downloads than Google Play. What works for one app might not work for another; sometimes all that's needed to get a few more downloads is a little bit of experimentation. Find some app stores and test the results.

Prepare your app store listing

Before you upload your app to any of the available app stores you will need to collect a few things in order to prepare your store listing. While these steps are not the same across all app stores, in general most of the following will be needed:

A Large App Icon

You will probably need a 512x512 version of your app icon, and in some app stores a smaller version as well.

Screenshots

At a minimum you will need four screenshots of your app. You can read more about taking screenshots of your app in our knowledge-base article How to take Screenshots of an Android application. Most modern phones can do this by simply pressing and holding the power and volume-down buttons down for a few seconds. Make sure that your screenshots are accurate and highlight the best features in your app.

Google Play recommends that you have three types of screenshots: phone, 7 inch tablet, and 10 inch tablet.

A description of your app

Each app store will require you to describe your app to potential users. You app description should explain what your app does, and contain related keywords so that search queries will find you app. Be wary of lying or doing any "keyword stuffing" as both have the possibility of getting your app banned from that particular app store. Google Play is especially sensitive to this.

Also pay special attention to the first sentence in your description. This is often the only part potential users will see on their mobile phone, so make it count.

A tagline from your app

Come up with a short tagline for your app. Something less than 80 characters that will hook potential users.

Promotional Images

Some app stores permit additional promotional images that will help your app store listing attract more customers. You might need an image editor to create these. While it may seem like a hassle to create additional graphics, the potential benefits outweigh the small amount of effort needed to create them.

Promote your app

After you publish your app to the stores of your choice it is important to take some time to promote your app. The more people hear about your app the more likely they are to download your app, so get out there and let them know about it. Promoting your app doesn't have to cost you anything, it can be done very easily using social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc), blogs, and any other online space where potential users of your app might congregate. Don't spam people, instead let them know that you have a very cool app on a subject that they are interested in.

Another way to direct potential users to your app is through paid advertising. If you want to spend the money you can actually advertise your app using the very same ad networks that you enabled in your app! In the future when you have more than one app available you can use house ads to cross promote between your apps, a very clever strategy that many successful Andromo app developers employ.

Update Schedule

Another key to a successful app whose install numbers continue to climb is to follow a release schedule. Your release schedule should mainly be about two things:

  1. Fixing bugs
  2. Adding new content/features

If there is a bug in your app, or if Andromo has fixed a bug, you should release an update as soon as possible. If you come across new content that you would like to add, or if Andromo has added a new feature that you would like to take advantage of, you should release an update according to your schedule.

Both types of updates to your app will bring your app back to the user’s attention and hopefully get them using your app again.

You should aim to update your app around once a month. It will help to keep your existing users happy and help you acquire new ones.

In Conclusion

Once you've released your app to the public and uploaded it to the app stores of your choice, it's time to have some fun over the next few days as you watch the ad impressions and install counts grow. You should feel proud when you start to see people using your app! But don't be discouraged if your app doesn't explode in popularity overnight. Some apps need time to get noticed by the right users. And, unfortunately, there will be some apps that just won't get noticed, in spite of all your efforts, for all kinds of reasons that are beyond your control...but there will be others that will. So if your app's journey to success is slower than you wanted, don't despair; take what you've learned from the process and build another app. Even in a crowded app store, there is still room for new successful apps.

That's the beauty of Andromo App Maker. The quick turnaround from idea to app as shown in this series means that you can keep creating and releasing different ideas without spending half a year to code it yourself in Java. You can throw as many apps as you want into the app stores, until you find an idea that sticks.

But in order to create more than one app using Andromo you will need a subscription to Andromo.

Reason to subscribe #1: Although you can build one app using Andromo's free trial, you cannot monetize that app with ads; instead, Andromo's own ads will be shown. This means you are missing out on the potential ad revenue from your app. When you have an Andromo subscription you get 100% of the ad time and therefore 100% of the ad revenue.

Reason to subscribe #2: You also need a subscription in order to turn advertising off and make ad-free apps. Which means that if you are planning on selling your app for money you will want to get a subscription, or your end users will still see Andromo’s ad units, which is generally frowned upon for paid apps.

The Solution: Subscribe to Andromo.com, get 100% of the ad revenue, gain the ability to turn off ads, and most importantly gain the ability to make multiple Android apps!