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Taking the App to Market, Part 2

Publishing an application to the Android Market

Starting point

In our last article we examined the steps required to prepare an Android application for publication to the Android Market, or for that matter, any number of other venues for distributing Android applications.

This article picks up where the prior article left off as we demonstrate the steps required to upload a signed and packaged application to the Android Market.

The steps for other online app stores will vary but they should have some similar requirements.

In addition to having the application packaged, the other prerequisite is the creation of an Android developer/publisher account. Assuming you have both of those steps squared away it is time to publish your application.

Going to market

Once you browse to your Android Market home page (start at http://market.android.com), you see a listing of any previously published applications.

Publishing Home
Publishing Home

Looking at my current home page, I have two applications.

To add a new application, click on the “Upload Application” link.

Add a new application
Add a new application

This form presents a number of required and optional fields:

  • Application apk file
  • Up to two Application Screen shots
  • Promotional Graphic
  • Option to “opt-out” of Google marketing promotions

In addition, we provide textual strings describing the application, each of which may be localized to a particular language.

  • Title
  • Description
  • Promo Text

Next, select the application type: Application or Game

A drop down asks for the category of the application. The list of category choices is dependent upon the application type.

By default, applications published to the store are Free. In order to charge for your applications you must complete the simple, online merchant application.

Your Android application may be optionally copy-protected, though this feature will soon be replaced by the Licensing Service. We’ll review the Licensing Service in a future article.

The application may be published to all localized versions of the Android Market. If the “All” option is unchecked then distinct locations may be selected.

The requested information is rounded out with some contact and website information about the publisher and some further “I certify that …” type of consent agreements. By all means, go ahead and read the agreement details.

Once these entries are made and the form is submitted, the application is visible within the Market within moments. This is quite a stark contrast to the Apple process!

Let’s have a look at what these fields look like for a published application

A victim

Every demonstration needs a guinea pig. For this example we use one of the sample applications written for the update of the Unlocking Android book. Yes, this is a marginally shameless plug for the book — see coupon for a discount on the book at the base of this article.

My favorite application is called SenseBot, taken from the chapter on Bluetooth and Sensors. In short, the application acts as a “remote control” for a Lego Mindstorm NXT-based robot. The application connects to the NXT controller via Bluetooth and sends commands based on tilting the phone in various directions. Tilt the phone forward and the robot drives forward. Tilt it back and the robot reverses direction. Tilt the phone left… you get the idea.

SenseBot entry in Market
SenseBot entry in Market

The next few images display the form all filled out for this application. Note that one of the screen shots for the application is not a screen shot at all, but rather a picture of the robot which is controlled by the application.

Setting up SenseBot for distribution
Setting up SenseBot for distribution

Another aspect of the publishing process to notice is that the Market displays the required permissions specified by the application. These permissions come from the AndroidManifest.xml file associated with the application. The manifest file is actually baked into the apk file.

Application details
Application details

And don’t forget to sign on the dotted line.

Consent
Consent

Peer review

It seems as though nothing escapes the critique of peer review these days. Everyone has a chance to “Like” something on Facebook and yes, we get to rate applications and comment about applications. Some of these reviews are helpful and others — not so much.

Commentary
Commentary

One unexpected surprise for me was the posting of user comments in various languages. I was excited to see some new comments but was not able to understand the details of what the reviewer posted about the application. Probably really loved it, I am sure. A nice enhancement to the Market website would be a direct translation from the input language to the publisher’s default language. Comments made in a language outside of the device’s currently selected locale do not show up on the device version of the Market.

Mixed reviews
Mixed reviews

Of course, not everyone who leaves a review will do so in an eloquent fashion like Michael and the one star review. OK, some room for improvement. What fun would it be if every application were a five star out of the gate!

Wrapping up

As you can see, publishing an application is really very simple… once you have written it.

Go ahead and give it a try. Once you’ve published your application, add a comment here so other Linux Magazine readers can check out your apps!

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