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Publishing an app on the Google Play Console

Your app is ready. You are about to show your company what the app looks like. Your CEO has an Android phone, so you create a closed testing on the Google Play Console to provide him with an alpha version of your app. Of course, you don’t want to publish to the world your app before your boss approves it.

But then, when you want to publish your app for closed testing, this pop-up appears!

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Wait what? All changes will be visible to users? What is happening?

TLDR: all the steps to publish your app to the store.

Managed Publishing

What’s the managed publishing?  

The managed publishing on the GooglePlay Console is an option to “control exactly when changes to your app are published”.

On the GooglePlay Console, the modifications to an existing app must first be approved by Google before being published immediately on the stores.

The managed publishing is the option you want to activate to stop this immediate publication and be able to publish it yourself when you want it.

This prevents your app from being published without your knowledge and your consent on a Friday night just after a script from Google finishes.

To activate it, you need to go to Publishing overview and then turn on managed publishing.

Why are we talking about the managed publishing?

Because the Scary pop-up about the publication of the update doesn’t change. Notably, when you want to make an alpha release, you will still see the same Scary Popup.

An alpha release in the GooglePlay Store

To better understand how it works, let’s take the example of an alpha release and look at it step by step. And as I said before, you will see the Scary Popup, talking about all the users, even if it is an alpha release.

Step 1: In review

After you upload your build (here version 7.8.0) for an alpha release, you will see it in the Closed testing section:

Your build is first “In review” by Google.

Step 2: Changes ready to publish

Once the review by Google is done, since we have the managed publishing, the build is not automatically published. We are in the phase “Ready to publish”.

There you can see the different modifications that have been made.

You can see that you have modified an element in “Closed testing - Alpha” and that you have version 7.8.0 of the app.

Notes: the scary phrase in “Description”: Full rollout started doesn’t mean the full rollout has started. As always, it’s confusing (otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this article).

Ok, all seems good, we just need to click on “Publish changes”: what could possibly go wrong?

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What do you mean “All changes will be visibles to users”????

Step 3: The Scary Popup

Yep, that’s the Scary Popup!

Yes, it is stressful, but in the end, it makes sense: yes, all changes will be visible to users :

  • The alpha users will see the modification with the newest version (7.8.0) of the app.
  • Every normal user will see the modification of the app in production. But since there are none, they won’t see anything.

So again it is stressful and scary, but it describes well what will happen: every user will see the modifications for their app. If they have the alpha app, they will the alpha update, if they have the production app, they will see the production app update (if there is one).

So you can relax and click on “Publish” and everything will be fine: the concerned users will see the modifications. And the rest of the users won’t see anything.

Step 4: The app is deployed on the stores

And the right people will have access to the right app. Most people won’t have the access, however, the alpha testers will be able to access it.

One button but many changes

Another thing to keep in mind, is that there is only one button Publish changes. However, you may have to do multiple modifications and therefore have multiple changes ready to publish.

It can easily be the case if you modify the Main Store listing :

Since there is only one button: “Publish changes”, every modification will be published at the same time. You can’t do it any other way.

So you must be careful not to prepare multiple modifications that you don’t want to publish at the same time!

CONCLUSION

Publishing an app is always a bit scary and clearly the wording on the Google Play Console doesn’t help : even after you publish a bunch of app, you may still be triggered by this Scary Popup. So I hope this article will reassure you the next time you will see this scary popup and good luck with the not-very explicit and very scary Google Play Console!

Google’s explanation about the managed publishing:
https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answer/9859654

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