Way back in March, the new NHS Health and Symptom checker app was released across the two major smart phone platforms on the 21st.
As part of the NHS's new 111 helpline rollout, the existing NHS Direct app's needed to be rebranded to reflect the new service and updated content.
Being responsible for the Android release and being that this was the first (official) time I'd published an app on the Google Play store, I wanted to share a few insights into the process of publishing the app and document it for my own benefit in the future.
Reading the official signing procedures outlined by Google can lead you to think the process is a little involved, but if you're using Eclipse and take Google's advice, the export wizard built into the IDE makes the whole process entirely painless.
Exporting and signing your APK file
Inside Eclipse (ADT v21.0.1-543035):
- First step is to update your version numbers inside the package's manifest file. This is to ensure the automatic upgrade process happens correctly, and also I think the store may reject the update if version numbers don't differ.
- Right-click the project you want to publish in the package explorer and select Android tools -> Export signed application package... This will open the Export App wizard.
- Specify the project to export and click next. I assume most packages will only have one project.
- The next step is to specify the Java keystore file which contains the private key you wish to sign your APK file with. In order to publish the app on the Google Play store your app must be signed with a private key that has an expiry period of at least 25 years. This is to ensure the app can be upgraded with the same key in the future.
- Next specify which alias to use (alias is the name used to identify the key when it was added to the keystore) and the password for it.
- Finally, give the wizard a location and filename where to save the signed APK file.
Once the app has been exported and signed into an APK file it needs to be uploaded to the store.
- Log into the Android developer console. These steps are based on the version 2 console.
- As this was an upgrade the next step for me was to select the existing app in the list.
- Click the APK link in the sub menu beneath the app's icon on the left.
- Now click Upload new APK at the top and browse to (or drag) the signed APK into this dialog.
- Once uploaded you click the Publish now button to submit this APK to the store. Apparently you used to be able to upload the APK without publishing to allow you time to ready everything prior to officially releasing the app, but I was unable to find this feature this time round.
- Finally you can go to the Store Listing section and amend anything that needs to change, probably at least the Recent changes section.
I've been quite granular here with the steps but the whole thing can be done in less than 10 minutes once you know your way around.