Prepare and roll out a release

In the second half of 2021, new apps will be required to publish with the Android App Bundle on Google Play. New apps larger than 150MB will have to use either dynamic feature delivery or dynamic asset delivery.

Read this post on the Android Developers Blog for more details.

With a release, you can manage your app's Android App Bundle, which is Google Play's recommended publishing format, or APK, and then roll out your app to a specific track.

Step 1: Create a release

A release is a combination of one or more build artifacts that you'll prepare to roll out an app or an app update. You can create a release on three different testing tracks or to production:

  • Open testing: Open testing releases are available to testers on Google Play. Users can join tests from your store listing.
  • Closed testing: Closed testing releases are available to a limited number of testers that you choose, who can test a pre-release version of your app and submit feedback.
  • Internal testing: Internal testing releases are available to up to 100 testers that you choose.
  • Production: Production releases are available to all Google Play users in your chosen countries.

Important: You must have the Release apps to testing tracks permission to create a new release.

To start your release:

  1. Open Play Console and go to the track you want to start your release on: 
    • Open testing (Testing > Open testing)
    • Closed testing (Testing > Closed testing)
      • Note: To create a release on an existing closed testing track, select Manage track. To create a new track, click Create track.
    • Internal testing (Testing > Internal testing)
    • Production
  2. Near the top right of the page, click Create new release.
    • Note: If Create new release is disabled, you may have outstanding setup tasks to complete. These may be listed on the Dashboard page.

Tip: For more information on testing, go to set up an open, closed, or internal test.

Step 2: Prepare your app's release

  1. Follow the on-screen instructions to prepare your release: 
    • If you want Google to protect your app’s app signing key, opt-in for app signing by Google Play.
    • Add your app bundles or APKs.
    • Name your release. 
    • Enter release notes.
    • For more information on any of these fields, select the matching section heading under “Prepare” below.
  2. To save any changes you make to your release, select Save.
  3. When you've finished preparing your release, select Review release.

Prepare

Select a section heading below for more information.

App signing by Google Play

In this section, you can choose to opt-in to using app signing by Google Play. If you do opt-in, you have three options:

  • Export and upload a key from Android Studio.
  • Export and upload a key from Java keystore.
  • Export and upload a key (not using Java Keystore).

Learn more about using app signing by Google Play.

App bundles and APKs

In this section, you can upload new app bundles or APKs or add them from your library. You can also click the three dots icon to:

  • Upload a ReTrace mapping file (.txt)
  • Upload native debug symbols (.zip)
  • Upload an expansion file (.obb)
  • Remove an APK 

To learn more about why you would upload ReTrace Mapping files and native debug symbols, go to Deobfuscate crash stack traces.

Included (app bundles and APKs)

In this section, view details about app bundles or APKs from your previous release that will be included in this release.

Clicking Remove will remove the app bundle or APK from this release. You can find the app bundle or APK again in your artifact library.

Not included (app bundles and APKs)

In this section, view details about app bundles or APKs from your previous release that will not be included in this release.

Clicking Include will add the app bundle or APK to this release.

Declare permissions for your app (optional)

Permission requests are evaluated during the release process after adding your APKs or App Bundles. If your app requests the use of high risk or sensitive permissions (e.g., SMS or Call Log), you may be required to complete the Permissions Declaration Form and receive approval from Google Play.

Release name

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 of the first APK or app bundle added to the release.

To make your release easier to identify, add a release name that's meaningful to you, like the build version ("3.2.5-RC2") or an internal code name ("Banana").

What's new in this release?

Overview

Let your users know about recent updates you've made in this release of your app. Release notes shouldn't be used for promotional purposes or to solicit actions from your users.

Add release notes and manage translations

Add the description for your app's release between the relevant language tags. Language tags will be shown in the text box for each language your app supports.

To change your app's supported languages, you must first add translations. When you return to the Prepare release page, the latest set of languages will be shown in the text box.

When entering text, make sure the language tags are on separate lines from the release notes. The format should match the following:

<en-US>

The release notes description can take up multiple lines.

</en-US>

Copy from previous release

To copy release notes from a previous release, select Copy from a previous release. On the next screen, selecting a release will copy the release notes and any translations into the text box for further editing. This will replace any existing release notes you may have entered.

Step 3: Review and roll out your release

Prerequisite: Before you can roll out your release, make sure you've set up your app's store listing, prepared your app for review on the App content page, and set up your app’s prices

Once you're ready to roll out your app:

  1. Open Play Console and go to the Releases Overview page.
  2. Next to the release you want to roll out, select the right arrow to open the Release details page. 
    • Tip: Use the search bar if you can’t find your release. 
  3. In the “Release overview” section, select View release dashboard.
  4. Select the Releases tab, then Edit.
  5. Review your draft release, make any necessary additional changes, and select Save.
  6. Select Review release. You'll be taken to the "Review and release" screen, where you can make sure there aren't any issues with your release before rolling out to users.
  7. If you see the heading “Errors summary” at the top of the page, click Show more to review the details and resolve any problems. 
    • Note: When available, you can also view the recommended or required resolution. You can’t publish your app until errors have been resolved. If you only have warnings, minor issues, or a combination of the two, then you can still publish your app, but we recommend addressing them before publishing.
  8. If you're updating an existing app, select a rollout percentage.
    • If you're rolling out your first release, you won't see the option to select a rollout percentage.  
    • For details on how to target a staged rollout to specific countries, go to release app updates with staged rollouts.
  9. Select Start rollout.
    • If you're rolling out your app's first release on production, clicking Start rollout to production will also publish your app to all Google Play users in the countries you selected.

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 each track in a table under “Latest releases” on your Releases overview page.

  • Release: Name to identify release in the Play Console only, such as an internal code name or build version.
  • Track: The track that the release has been rolled out to.
  • Release status: The current status of your release.
  • Last updated: A date and timestamp indicating the last rollout event for your release.
  • Countries / regions: The number of countries / regions the last rollout of your release is available to.

You can view more in-depth information by selecting the right arrow to open the release’s Release details page, which includes:

  • Release overview: A set of metrics relating to your app's number of installs and updates, performance issues, and rating measured against previous releases.
  • App bundles and APKs: A list of new, retained, and deactivated app bundles and APKs associated with your release.
  • Release notes: A list of previous release notes.
  • Rollout history: A timeline that shows timestamps for when your app's release was halted, resumed, or served to a new percentage of users.

Track and manage releases on your Releases overview page

If you’ve rolled out multiple releases, the Releases Overview page (under “Release” in the left menu) helps you stay on top of all releases in one place. It’s a single location where you can monitor the availability of your apps across different tracks, view the countries/regions it’s available in, and select individual releases to view their specific details.

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