Publishing an Application
After a great application has been created, people will want to use it. This section covers the steps involved with the public distribution of an application created with Xamarin.Android via channels such as e-mail, a private web server, Google Play, or the Amazon App Store for Android.
The final step in the development of a Xamarin.Android application is to publish the application. Publishing is the process of compiling a Xamarin.Android application so that it is ready for users to install on their devices, and it involves two essential tasks:
Preparing for Publication – A release version of the application is created that can be deployed to Android-powered devices (see Preparing an Application for Release for more information about release preparation).
Distribution – The release version of an application is made available through one or more of the various distribution channels.
The following diagram illustrates the steps involved with publishing a Xamarin.Android application:
As can be seen by the diagram above, the preparation is the same regardless of the distribution method that is used. There are several ways that an Android application may be released to users:
- Via a Website – A Xamarin.Android application can be made available for download on a website, from which users may then install the application by clicking on a link.
- By e-mail – It is possible for users to install a Xamarin.Android application from their e-mail. The application will be installed when the attachment is opened with an Android-powered device.
- Through a Market – There are several application marketplaces that exist for distribution, such as Google Play or Amazon App Store for Android .
Using an established marketplace is the most common way to publish an application as it provides the broadest market reach and the greatest control over distribution. However, publishing an application through a marketplace requires additional effort.
Multiple channels can distribute a Xamarin.Android application simultaneously. For example, an application could be published on Google Play, the Amazon App Store for Android, and also be downloaded from a web server.
The other two methods of distribution (downloading or e-mail) are most useful for a controlled subset of users, such as an enterprise environment or an application that is only meant for a small or well-specified set of users. Server and e-mail distribution are also simpler publishing models, requiring less preparation to publish an application.
The Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program enables mobile app developers to distribute and sell their applications on Amazon. Users can discover and shop for apps on their Android-powered devices by using the Amazon App Store application. A screenshot of the Amazon App Store running on an Android device appears below:
Google Play is arguably the most comprehensive and popular marketplace for Android applications. Google Play allows users to discover, download, rate, and pay for applications by clicking a single icon either on their device or on their computer. Google Play also provides tools to assist in the analysis of sales and market trends and to control which devices and users may download an application. A screenshot of Google Play running on an Android device appears below:
This section shows how to upload the application to a store such as Google Play, along with the appropriate promotional materials. APK expansion files are explained, providing a conceptual overview of what they are and how they work. Google Licensing services are also described. Finally, alternate means of distribution are introduced, including the use of an HTTP web server, simple e-mail distribution, and the Amazon App Store for Android.