This article explains how to manually submit your Android app to the Google Play Store for the first time, using the .APK file obtained via the Google Play publishing process in AppMachine. 

Note that the file downloaded from AppMachine is a .zip file. This .zip file contains the following files:
- APK / AAB
- App icon
- Feature image
- Screenshots

Extract the .APK file (or .AAB file, starting August 2, 2021) from the .zip file, and upload the .APK or .AAB file to Google when required. Attempting to upload the .zip file to Google will result in an error.



Creating a new app record.


Open your browser and navigate to the Google Play developer console: https://play.google.com/apps/publish/?hl=en

Once logged in, you'll find yourself on the 'All Apps' page. This is the landing page of the Google Play developer console, which provides you with an overview of all apps that have been created and/or published on the developer account.

Use the 'Create app' button in the top-right corner of the screen to create a new app within your developer account. After clicking the button, you should see a page similar to the screenshot below.




Enter the name of your app and select the default language. This is the language of the content used in your app. Select the 'App' option between App or Game.

* Please note that 'Game' apps cannot be made through AppMachine and require different publishing settings and options than regular apps.

Select whether your app is Free or Paid. Note that Free apps cannot be made into Paid apps after they have been published to the Google Play Store. Also note that Paid apps require you to set up a Google Merchant account.

Lastly, check the boxes for the available declarations and use the 'Create app' button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to continue. If you haven't yet accepted the Play App Signing Terms of Service during a previous app submission, then you will notice a third checkbox being available for this.


 


Initial app setup.


After using the 'Create app' button to create your app, you'll find yourself on a page with several steps to 'Get started setting up your app'. On this page, locate the 'Initial setup' section and click the 'View tasks' button.


The tasks listed on the screen show which settings have to be provided by you before you'll be able to publish the app into the Google Play Store. We'll go through these settings one by one.


App access.


Within the App access settings you'll have to declare whether or not your app contains content which can only be seen if users login, or enter a password, or if they have to perform any other type of authentication. If your app has locked content like this, then you will have to provide Google with a way to access this content.

When you've set the app access settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button at the top of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Ads.


Within the Ads settings you'll have to declare whether or not the app contains advertisement.

When you've set the Ads settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button at the top of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Content rating.


Within the Content rating settings, you'll have to answer a series of questions regarding the content used in your app. The answers to these questions will provide your app with an IARC content rating for your app. This rating will provide users in the Google Play Store with an indication of the content which your app displays. The email address you provide for this rating will be used to contact you about your content ratings, and may be shared with rating authorities and IARC.

When you've set the Content rating settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, click Next and use the Dashboard button in the top-left corner of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Target audience.


Within the Target audience settings you'll have to answer a series of questions concerning the audience that your app is created for. Note that choosing anything under the age of 18 may place your app in the kids category, which will result in additional restrictions in terms of allowed content. This may impact the review of your app. If your app is not specifically created for a younger audience, then we advise you to always choose the ages 18 and over.

When you've set the Target audience settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button at the top of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Select an app category and provide contact details.


Within the Store settings you'll have to select a category for your app and enter an email address which will be shown in the Google Play Store with your app listing. All other options displayed on this page are optional.

When you've set the Store settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button in the top-left corner of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Privacy policy.


This item is not displayed in the initial app setup list, but is required for apps published via AppMachine due to usage of the location permission.

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the left-side menu of your developer console. At the bottom you will find a Policy submenu in which 'App content' is listed. Open the 'App content' page and click the 'Start' button below the Privacy policy setting.


Enter the URL on which your app's privacy policy can be located.

When you've set the privacy policy URL, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button in the top-left corner of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.


Sensitive app permissions.


Scroll all the way to the bottom of the left-side menu of your developer console. At the bottom you will find a Policy submenu in which 'App content' is listed. Open the 'App content' page and click the 'Start' button below the Sensitive app permissions setting.



The next page is titled 'Permission declaration form'. Hit the 'start' button below the 'Location permissions' to provide the required information.



Next you'll be presented with a question regarding the background use of the location permission. This question can be answered with 'No'.




Use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes and to complete the permission declaration form.


News apps.


Scroll all the way to the bottom of the left-side menu of your developer console. At the bottom you will find a Policy submenu in which 'App content' is listed. Open the 'App content' page and click the 'Start' button below the News apps setting.


You will be asked whether your app is a news app. If this is not the case, answering the question with 'No' will suffice.

If your app is a news app, then you'll have to provide Google with additional information to help them verify your credentials as a news publisher. Furthermore, your app will have to comply with the Google Play News Policy.

When you've entered the required information, hit the Save button in the bottom-right of the screen to complete this step.


Data safety.


Scroll all the way to the bottom of the left-side menu of your developer console. At the bottom you will find a Policy submenu in which 'App content' is listed. Open the 'App content' page and click the 'Start' button below the Data safety setting.


Please click here to open the article in our help center that provides a full step-by-step guide on how to enter the Date safety settings for your app




Set up your store listing.


Within the Store listing settings you'll have to provide the following information for your app:


  • Short description.
  • Full description.
  • App icon.
  • Feature graphic.
  • Phone screenshots.


Please note that it is not allowed to add keywords to your descriptions, as this is cause for Google to reject the app from the Google Play Store.

Concerning the screenshots: You'll only have to upload a minimum of two Phone screenshots to be compliant with Google's guidelines. Screenshots for other displays (e.g. tablet) are displayed, but are not required as long as at least two screenshots are provided for one of the device types.

When you've set the Store listing settings, use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Dashboard button in the top-left corner of the screen to navigate back to the Dashboard.

If you plan to sell your app in the Google Play Store as a paid app, then please follow the steps in this help center article before continuing with the release of your app.


Release your app.


Now that we're finished with the initial app setup, you'll notice that the initial app setup section is no longer displayed on the dashboard page of your app. This means that this part of the publication is successfully completed.

The dashboard page now shows a number of ways to release your app. Because we're interested in publishing the app in the Google Play Store, we'll choose the last displayed option titled: "Publish your app on Google Play".



Opening the 'View tasks' dropdown menu will show you the following list of actions having to be performed before being able to publish the app:


 




Select countries and regions.


After opening the 'Select countries and regions' task, you'll be shown the following screen:


1. Click the 'add countries and regions' hyperlink. You will be able to select the countries in which you would like your app to be available. When you've selected the countries, use the 'Add countries/regions' button in the top-right corner of the pop-up window to save your changes.

2. Click the 'Create new release' button in the top-right corner of the screen.


 


3. Click the 'Manage preferences' button and select the option to 'Let Google manage and protect your app signing key (recommended)’. Use the Save button to save the changes.


4. Click the ‘Continue’ button next to the 'Manage preferences' hyperlink and accept the Play App Signing Terms of Service, if required. (you will have to be logged in as account owner or admin to be able to accept these terms)

5. Unzip the package you've downloaded from the Publish page in AppMachine, which contains your app's APK file (or AAB file, starting August 2, 2021). Upload the APK or AAB file to Google by either dragging and dropping it onto the screen, or by using the Upload button displayed on the page.

A name for the release will automatically be filled in. Optionally, you can enter release notes for this version to inform your app users about the changes within this new version of the app.

Use the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the screen to save your changes. After saving the changes, use the Review release button. Review the new version and use the 'Start rollout to Production' button to release the app into the Google Play Store.

Your app should now be displayed with a 'Pending publication' status in your developer console app overview. Google will review the app and, if accepted, the app will become available to download from the Google Play Store. In case the app is rejected -or suspended as Google calls it- you will receive an email notification from Google on the owner email address of your Google Play developer account explaining why the app was suspended and what needs to be changed.

The time it takes Google to review is generally anywhere between 2-7 days, depending on the amount of apps that have been submitted to Google.

Congratulations, you've successfully submitted your Android app to the Google Play Store!