Release a Build

Upload your application binary package to App Center to distribute it. App Center supports package distribution for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and custom operating system apps. You can distribute releases to individual testers or groups of testers. For iOS and Android applications, you can also release to the stores like Google Play, the App Store, and Intune. See Publish to consumer and enterprise stores.

On this page you can learn how to generate the binary for release, and how to upload and release it to groups using the portal, the command-line interface (CLI), and the application programming interface (API).

Generating an application binary package

First you have to package your application into a binary file for release. You can create this file manually, or use App Center Build. You can configure Build to distribute automatically in the build configuration of a branch.

The following sections explain how to create the files for all app types App Center supports for distribution.

Android

For Android, you must produce a signed app bundle or APK file. For full details of this process, see the official Google documentation on preparing an app for release.

  1. Ensure you've updated the manifest and have a correctly configured Gradle build.
  2. In Android Studio, choose Build > Generate Signed Bundle / APK and follow the steps in the wizard to build the app bundle or APK.

Android Studio places built app bundles in project-name/module-name/build/outputs/bundle/ and APKs in project-name/module-name/build/outputs/apk/.

Note

You can only distribute Android app bundles to the Google Play Store, not to groups or individual testers.

iOS

For iOS, you must produce an IPA package for your application. For full details of this process, see the official Apple documentation.

  1. Register UDIDs for all hardware devices in your provisioning profile.
  2. In Xcode, go to Product > Archive to archive your app.
  3. Export the archive using the proper provisioning profile.

macOS

For macOS, you must produce an app package. App Center supports releasing app packages of type .app.zip, .pkg or .dmg. For full details of this process, see the official Apple macOS documentation.

  1. Register a single device or register multiple devices in your Apple developer account.
  2. In Xcode, go to Product > Archive to archive your app.
  3. Export the archive using the proper provisioning profile.

Windows

App Center supports releasing Windows app packages of type .appx, .appxbundle, .appxupload, .msi, .msix, .msixbundle, .msixupload, or .zip. For full details on how to package your app in AppX or MSIX formats, see the official Microsoft UWP documentation.

Custom operating system

Archive your build for apps with a custom operating system in .zip format.

Distributing the package

To distribute a package with App Center, go to App Center, go to your app, then go to Distribute > Groups and select New release. Follow the steps in the wizard. Distributing a new release

In the first step, choose the Release area to browse for the file you want to upload, or drag and drop the file onto the area. Depending on the operating system of your app and the file extension, App Center may ask you to enter a version and build number for your release. Enter the information and choose Next.

You can include release notes as a part of your release, both in plain text or Markdown format. Choose Next.

You can target your release at multiple distribution groups or testers. App Center makes this release available to those testers and the users who are part of the selected groups. Choose Next.

Setting release destinations

When releasing an iOS app, you can automatically provision your testers' devices. Choose Next.

Review the release. If your app uses the Distribute SDK, then you can configure App Center to make the release mandatory. When App Center distributes a release, it sends an email notification of the new version to all testers set in the destinations. You can choose not to notify testers in the review tab. Finally, choose Distribute to release the file to your testers.

Distributing using the App Center command-line interface

Distribute your release using the appcenter distribute release command in the App Center CLI. The following example command distributes a file called ~/releases/my_app-23.ipa to the group Beta testers of the app My-App owned by David.

appcenter distribute release --app David/My-App --file ~/releases/my_app-23.ipa --group "Beta testers"

Re-Release a build

To release a build to another distribution group, from any place in App Center go to Distribute > Releases and then select the release you want to distribute again. The release details page opens. Select the Distribute button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select the destination to start the re-release process. Follow the steps in the wizard and finally select Distribute to send the release to groups/testers or the store.

Mandatory Updates

Make a release mandatory to force all users to run the same version of your app. When you do this, App Center will install the selected update on all tester devices.

You can only make a release mandatory if your app uses the App Center Distribute SDK. Make a release mandatory via the API or by selecting the Mandatory update checkbox in the review stage of distributing a release.

For mandatory releases, App Center displays a red dot next to the release icon in your releases table under a selected distribution group.

Once you've released successfully, your testers can access the release through email, logging in to App Center, or through a direct link.

You can find links to specific releases on the release page for private destinations. Install button

You can find links to specific releases to public destinations on the releases tab in public groups. Public deep link