My First Published Android App and Lessons Learned

After I attended AnDevCon earlier this year I started working on a native Android app that solved one of my biggest needs: easily saving an article, video, or tweet to come back and read later.

Most of the time this happens when I’m catching up on twitter while I’m [waiting in line at the grocery store, eating a quick snack, waiting for a meeting to start, etc.] – so I’m scrolling through the dozens of tweets in my timeline since the last time I checked when I see something that peaks my interest, but I know I don’t have time to read it now. In the past I would click the URL to open it in the browser, click home, then go back to twitter and keep going through my timeline.  When I had time to go back I would open the browser and the article would be there.

While that process works, it’s really not ideal. So I decided to create an application called “Later”.

Later Screenshot - Unread Later Screenshot - Share

You can download the app from the Google Play store by clicking the link or scanning the QR code below.


Main Goals of Publishing to Google Play Store

Similar to my experience developing the Later application, I really wanted to treat this as a learning experience as opposed to trying to get a lot of users for my app or make money. Here’s what I wanted to accomplish:

  • Understand the App Submission Process: I wanted to go through the steps of publishing an app in case it ever became relevant for work. What were the prerequisites, how was
  • Understand the Payment System: Instead of having my app be free I wanted to see how the payment system worked, so I made the app $0.99. People are inherently against paying for apps, especially ones as simple as this one, but I’m really not interested in making money and want to explore how Google tracks payment, how I can transfer money, etc.

Lessons Learned

  1. Google’s documentation is phenomenal. If you’ve done any Android development before and have looked through, you know how detailed and helpful Google’s documentation is – it’s the same for publishing to the Play Store.
  2. Getting an app into the Google Play Store is really easy. While there continue to be horror stories about the Apple App Store taking days/weeks to approve (or sometimes reject) an app, this process was very straightforward. I was able to access the Play Store page almost immediately using the package name at:
  3. Because I named the app “Later”, when searching for it on the Play Store (even a few days after it was published) I was unable to find the app. In fact, many popular apps that didn’t even have “Later” in the name showed up even though mine did not: YouTube, Opera, Google Wallet. Just a few minutes ago I changed the title in the app store to be “LaterReader” to see if that turns up more search results. (It looks like it already works if I search for “LaterReader”)
  4. During a BlueFletch Lunch & Learn on XCode: Prototyping with Storyboards, Rick showed us, a great tool for creating all of the app icon sizes needed for the various app stores. I used this to create all of the Google Play Store icons instead of having to manually create multiple files. When I had a small change to make, it took about 10 seconds to get all of the new files; if I had to manually recreate all file sizes again I probably would have just killed that idea.
  5. There’s already a ton of competitor apps out there that do the same or similar things. If I were creating this app for money-making purposes, I would have done much more extensive market research beforehand. There’s a ton of “read it later” apps, most notably an app called Pocket (which was previously named “Read It Later”). Where I differentiate is that my app is very simple with a very limited scope of permissions access. Most of the other apps tend to be cloud services that offer synchronization across multiple devices.
  6. The statistics from the Play Store appear to only update once a day. My next step is to add Google Analytics to the app.

What’s Next?

I have three things I want to accomplish next with this app:

  1. Add Google Analytics (which potentially requires adding a privacy policy since I’ll be gathering anonymous data)
  2. Add unit tests (probably using Robolectric)
  3. Make some functional improvements to the app itself
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