Get to Know Your Options for Publishing Apps

Here's what you need to know about publishing apps - how to publish publicly to app stores, and how to publish privately your app outside of app stores.
Grant Glas

As co-founder and CEO of App Press, Grant created his first app in App Press, and has since built 300 more with over 1M+ downloads.

Are you ready to embark on your app journey? Your app is ready to be published, and now you want to put your app in the hands of your audience ASAP.

Cool. So do we. :-)

Let's talk about app publishing.

What is Required to Publish an App?

An app that's ready to be published needs a few requirements:

  • All of your app's screens must work - that means no blank screens, and no broken navigation
  • Your app must have an icon
  • If you're publishing your app to app stores, you also need an app description, screenshots, and a website for your app

Here's a post we wrote a while back about app store optimization with some useful information on writing a description for your app, choosing an icon, and making sure your app is easy to find in search results.

Once your app is ready, the next step is deciding whether you're going to publish your app in app stores, or distribute your app privately.

Most people will want to publish to app stores, but if you're creating an internal app for your business, private app publishing might make more sense.

Here's how the app publishing process works.

Publishing Apps to the App Stores

If you're publishing to Apple’s App Store, you'll need to create a developer account. An Apple Developer account is $99 per year, and your app will require a review from Apple before it's available in the app store.

Here's where you can sign up for an Apple Developer Account.

If you are publishing to the Google Play Store, you will need to create an additional developer account. You will need to sign in with a Google account, read the Google Play Developer distribution agreement, and pay the $25 registration fee to complete the process.

You can sign up for a Google Play Developer Account here.

Publishing Your App Privately

You can also publish apps privately, and your options are different depending on whether you're publishing for iOS or Android.

Private distribution for iOS apps is complex, and you have two options for private app distribution, neither of which require a review from Apple. You can either go with an ad hoc distribution, or an enterprise in-house distribution.

Both of Apple's private deployment options are distributed using mobile device management (MDM), with a link from a web page or from iTunes. MDM is a built in frame work for iOS devices running iOS 4 or newer, and Mac computers running OS X v10.8 or newer.

Ad hoc distribution requires a standard Apple Developer account, at $99 per year. Ad hoc app deployment is limited to 100 iPhone, 100 iPad, and 100 iPod touch installations. You'll need to collect unique IDs from each device, and store these IDs in a provisioning profile.

You'll need to generate a new version of your app each time you add another UUID to your provisioning profile. Until your yearly membership renews, you'll only be able to add new UUIDs. When your membership renews, you'll have one opportunity to drop any UUIDs from your provisioning profile.

An enterprise in-house distribution requires an Apple Enterprise Developer Program account. This program costs $299 per year, and distribution is limited to devices owned by the company. There's no formal limit on the number of devices, as there is with ad hoc distribution.

If you're interested in an Apple Enterprise Developer account, you can enroll here.

For Android, private app distribution is possible without any special requirements, but employees will need to install the app via a web page, email, or shared storage. Their phones will have to be set to allow installations from outside the store (often called side-loading).

It's worth mentioning that any private app distribution requires you to be responsible for limiting access to the app. Because these apps are published outside of the App Store and Google Play, neither Apple nor Google has any means of limiting access.

Private App Publishing with App Press Now

Private app publishing can be complicated. However, if your app was created with App Press, we've made private distribution of your app a lot simpler. You'll start by generating a unique URL in App Press called a Share link, from the publish tab in your App Press dashboard.

Private app publishing using App Press Now for internal app distribution.

Anyone accessing this URL from their mobile device will be shown a page that directs them to your project using App Press Now, our mobile previewer app.

Publishing apps privately using a unique URL viewed in App Press Now.

If App Press Now is not yet installed, the page will guide them to installing App Press Now from the App Store or Google Play. After installing App Press Now, your mobile visitor will have to go back to the URL a second time to view your app. This is a great way to share your app privately.

Watch this tutorial to learn more about Share Links. (

How Long Does App Publishing Take?

No matter if you decide to publish your app privately or publicly, the process process typically takes 10-14 business days.

However, our team can do a rush publish. A rush publish requires a Small Business or Enterprise account. With a rush publish you can get your app in Google Play in 48-72 hours and in the App Store in 1-7 days.

I hope you found this post useful - please let us know if you have any other questions about the app publishing process. 

Once your app is published, you might be interested in learning more about the cost to maintain an app.

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