Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mobile Development with Cordova (Phonegap): Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Distributing the App to Stores

Once you've created your mobile app and tested it thoroughly, it's time to distribute it!
There are multiple avenues for distribution: the Apple App Store for iOS, and two major app stores for Android.

Android: Google Play

This is arguably the most popular of the app stores for Android.
Sign-up is based on the same Google account that you probably already use for Gmail or Google Docs.

https://play.google.com/apps/publish/signup/

On the Dashboard, use the "Publish an Android App on Google Play"

There are rather a lot of questions if you're establishing a new app, though many can be skipped if you're simply updating a new APK. The most time-consuming part is making up the rather large set of icons and screenshots. It took me about 45 minutes my first time.

Android: Amazon App Store

This is arguably the second most popular of the app stores for Android.
Sign-up is based on the same account that you already use for shopping at Amazon.com.

https://developer.amazon.com/public/

On the Dashboard, use the "Add a New App" wizard.

There are rather a lot of questions if you're establishing a new app, though many can be skipped if you're simply updating a new APK. The most time-consuming part is making up the rather large set of icons and screenshots. It took me about 45 minutes my first time.

iOS: Apple App Store

As in most of the steps previous, submitting to Apple's App Store is more complicated than for the Android stores, but then again also more polished in some ways.

As a quick overview, there are three steps to submitting an app to the store, once you're done testing it extensively.
  • Create an App Record in iTunes Connect (the web portal for managing App Store apps). This is only necessary if you're submitting a new app, not for upgrading an existing app.
  • Build an Archive of it (the IPA file) and sign it with a distribution Provisioning Profile intended for Store Distribution. In that same Archive operation, proceed to upload it to the App Store.
  • Wait for approval, or for an explanation of why the app was rejected.

Creating the App Record

Creating an App Record is just what it sounds like: creating the app's description, screenshots, etc.  Naturally, you only do this for a new app and not for every upgrade of the app.

This is done via the iTunes Connect website https://itunesconnect.apple.com/
Follow the Manage Your Apps option, and the Add New App button.
It's a tedious process like all the app stores, especially the need for various screenshots and splash screens.

Tip: Apple requires screenshots from a variety of devices, including an iPad, a 3.5" phone, and a 4" phone. As such, you and your beta testing team will need at least one of each of these devices. Apple is very clear that you cannot simply resize an existing image, and I have a feeling that they really are paying attention.



At this point, if you visit your app dashboard on iTunes Connect, you should see that it is waiting for upload.

Building and Uploading the Archive

Open up the Xcode project file, and make sure you have a physical device attached. The archive option will not be available, unless you have a physical device attached.

Go into Project/Archive, and follow the wizard same as you had when you are making Ad Hoc builds for your beta testers. But this time, select a Provisioning Profile intended for store distribution. Then simply walk through the wizard.

At this point, if you visit your app dashboard on iTunes Connect, you should see that it is waiting for approval.


Tip: You app record must be Waiting For Upload. If you already uploaded, but want to make a change, you must cancel your previous upload via the iTunes Connect website, which puts the app back into a Waiting For Upload state.



Approval

Apple is proud of their stringent testing process. I wasn't happy about it first, but I must admit that it's a good thing. They test on a variety of devices, and they make sure that your app isn't consuming the users' valuable iCloud space.

But keep at it, follow their instructions, and eventually you'll get through.


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