5 Lessons on Google Play.
This past weekend I uploaded my first Android app to the Google Play store. It started off great, and I even thought it was easier than uploading iOS apps. But then it got ugly.
You can now download Blob Run for iOS and Android.
Here are five lessons about Android that I learned along way. Many of these will be obvious or familiar to long-time Android publishers, and while I heard of some, they all surprised me coming from publishing on iOS.
1. Your keystore is important. Back it up.
Android uses a keystore file as part of the upload process. While I have no interest in exactly how it works, all I know is that it is important to backup the keystore you use to upload your app.
Of course when I uploaded my first app, I didn’t know this. Somewhere in the process, I deleted the keystore file I used, only to realize I had uploaded the wrong apk file! I had to un-publish the app, create a new listing with the exact same name and details, and upload a new version of the app with a new keystore. Now I have my keystore file backed up in at least two places.
2. Getting initial downloads is actually harder.
Why? Because there is no “New” section in the Google Play Store. Unlike Apple, Google does little to showcase the latest and greatest apps. Get ready to tell all your friends about your new app.
As of this writing, I still have no new data on Blob Run in the Google Play Console. I’m assuming since it’s been over 24 hours since I released the app, I haven’t gotten any downloads yet. (read: 0 downloads)
3. No Manual Review
Unlike Apple, Google does not manually review your app. As the notification message will tell you, it only takes a few hours before your app is available throughout the Google Play store. Android developers and publishers will know this but it’s a big difference for anyone coming from publishing on iOS.
The first version, which I realized was the wrong version, only took half an hour to show up. The fixed version, took a little longer at a couple hours.
4. No Keyword Section
Because Google is a search company, there is no separate keyword section in your apps. Instead, they look at your description for keywords. So ignore those that tell you that the description is not important, because it is.
Luckily I always write long (and hopefully interesting) descriptions for my iOS apps. I used that, adding Android related keywords to it as well as links to my website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
5. Flexible Screenshots
Because Android devices come in all shapes and sizes, the screenshot sizes are not set in stone as with Apple. Instead, there is a range of sizes (up to 2048×2048 I believe) and three sections: phone, 7 inch tablet, and 10 inch tablet. While the latter two are not required, your app doesn’t show up in the tablet section if you don’t have at least one tablet screenshot.
There are also optional sections for a promo screenshot as well as a place for video, something that is still missing from Apple’s iTunes App Store.
For the phone I used my 4 inch, iPhone 5 screenshots at 1136×640. For the 7 inch tablet, I used the non-Retina iPad screenshots at 1024×768 and for the 10 inch tablet, I used the Retina versions at double the resolution. I also found the 7 inch Nexus 7 (2013) has a resolution of 1920×1200, which could actually work better.
So there you have it. A few hours of struggling with the keystore, creating an extra set of screenshots, and un-publishing and re-publishing the same app with different apk’s, I managed to upload my first Android app.