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Distribute your instant app

Once you've built an instant app that can run without installation, you can use the Play Console to distribute your instant app to users.

Step 1: Create a release

To start your release:

  1. Go to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > Android Instant Apps. You'll see three track types.
    • Development: Use the development track for quick deployment of your instant app during development. Before you can publish your instant app, you must upload an APK of your installed app on the App releases page.
    • Pre-release: Use the pre-release track to send out a release candidate to testers. Before you can publish your instant app, your installed app must be published to alpha, beta, or production on the App releases page.
    • Production: Use the production track for the public release of your instant app. Before you can publish your instant app, your installed app must be published and have a production APK on the App releases page.
  4. Next to the release type you want to create, select Manage. For more information about setting up each track type, select the relevant section below.
  5. Save your changes.
  6. Select Create release.

Track Details

Development and pre-release
Create testers list

To distribute your instant app to the development or pre-release track, begin by creating your list of testers.

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. On the left menu, select Settings Settings > Manage testers > Create list.
  3. Type a name to identify your list of testers.
  4. Add email addresses separated by commas or click Upload CSV. If you use a .CSV file, put each email address on its own line without any commas. If you upload a .CSV file, it will overwrite any email addresses you've added.
  5. Click Create list.

Add Testers list

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > Android Instant Apps.
  4. Next to the development or pre-release track, select Manage.
  5. Next to "Test method," select Closed test using testers lists.
  6. Select the name of your list.
  7. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  8. Save your changes.

Share your opt-in URL with users

After you create a test, you'll get a URL link to your instant app to share with your testers. After clicking the opt-in link, your testers will get an explanation of what it means to be a tester and a link to opt-in.

A user can only test one instant app release track at a time. This means if a user is testing a development release and then opts in to test a pre-release, they will automatically be removed from the development release.

Production

When you're creating a production release, you can change the countries where your instant app is available. By default, the selected countries will match where you offer your installed app.

To change your app's country distribution, look for the "Instant app release countries" header and select the down arrow Drop-down arrow.

Step 2: Prepare your instant app's release

  1. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your Instant App APKs and name your release. 
    • The release name is only for use in the Play Console and won't be visible to users.
    • We'll auto-populate the field with the version name in your manifest.
    • To make your release easier to identify in the Play Console, add a release name that's meaningful to you, like the build version ("3.2.5-RC2") or an internal code name ("Banana").
  2. To save any changes you make to your release, select Save.
  3. When you've finished preparing your release, select Review.

Step 3: Review and rollout your release

Prerequisite: Before you can rollout your release, make sure you've completed your app's store listing, content rating, & pricing & distribution sections. When each section is complete, you'll see a green check mark next to it on the left menu. 

If you've filled out these sections for the installed version of your app, the same information will apply for your instant app. Keep in mind, instant app availability is defined by your instant app manifest and not by your app's device exclusions

Once you're ready to rollout your instant app:

  1. Go to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > Android Instant Apps.
  4. Next to the release you want to rollout, select Resume.
  5. Review your draft release and make any additional changes that are needed.
  6. Select Review. You'll be taken to the "Review and rollout" screen, where you can make sure there aren't any issues with your release before rolling out to users.
  7. Review any warnings or errors.
  8. Select Start rollout.

Step 4: Review release details

Once you've created a release, you'll see the following information for the latest app release you rolled out to development, pre-release, or production on your Android Instant Apps page.

  • Release name: Name to identify release in the Play Console only, such as an internal code name or build version.
  • Rollout details: A timestamp indicating the last rollout event for each release.
  • APK details: A list of active version codes added in your current and previous releases.
  • Rollout history: A timeline that shows timestamps for when your app's release was halted or resumed.
  • Release history: A list of all previous releases with version code details, rollout history, and release notes.

Direct users to the mobile web

A percentage of users

If you're interested in testing the performance between mobile web and your instant app, you can direct a percentage of traffic to mobile web. This is known as mobile holdback.

To set up mobile holdback:

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > Android Instant Apps.
  4. Next to the production track, select Manage.
  5. Next to "Settings," select the down arrow Drop-down arrow.
  6. Next to "Mobile holdback," select Edit
  7. Enter the amount of traffic you want to direct to mobile web. For example, if you enter 0.95, 95% of instant app eligible traffic will be sent to mobile web. The remaining 5% will be sent to your instant app.
All users

If you've found an issue with your instant app and want to redirect all of your users (across all tracks) to the mobile web:

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > Android Instant Apps.
  4. Select Stop serving > Confirm.

Fix an error

If you're receiving an error about split APKs, go to the Android Developers site for more information.

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