I have an app which is currently in beta testing. With every new version I have to send it to the users, they have to download it, uninstall the previous version (sometimes), and then install the new one.

Is there a way to update an app without it being in Google Play?

  • While this is certainly programming-centered, it is also specifically about apk distribution, which could be permitted here. – wbogacz Sep 5 '13 at 14:57
  • 2
    Are you aware that recent changes to the Play Store allow developers to distribute beta versions that way? – ale Sep 5 '13 at 15:06
  • Al Everett: WOW I did not know that!! Thanks! – leojg Sep 5 '13 at 15:44

You might provide them a link! A link on your website, that would provide them with the .apk file. After downloading, the user would install that file in his android phone.

After installing, the previous version is auto-deleted and the new version is installed! User data is saved. But I have never used the developer tools from Google Play. So I am not sure, whether the Google would mark it as spam or not, because some user try out Verify And Install instead of Package Installer. Verify and Install is a Google service to check whether the app is spam or not.

So I think, if the user tries Verify and Install instead of the built-in installer, he might get some errors, saying this signature is not found on Google Play! Or something like that.

But just my guess, if your beta is placed on Google Play, then they won't show up any errors, as they would find a signature on Google Play too.

Hope I am not wrong: Because I have never used either Verify and Install or Google Play Developer tools. So I might be wrong somewhere. But still there is a functionality to install apps, but that also depends whether the user is allowing the installation of Unknown Apps (Apps which are not downloaded from Google Play).

  • Yes, that's a solution. But could that work if the user has allow unknown origins disable? – leojg Sep 5 '13 at 14:06
  • Umm no, that won't work! user will have to first change the settings. – Afzaal Ahmad Zeeshan Sep 5 '13 at 14:42
  • Always welcome for help! :) – Afzaal Ahmad Zeeshan Sep 5 '13 at 14:52

There are multiple solutions to this. Google Play Beta has already be mentioned, but AFAIK has the (minor?) drawback that users need either to be active in G+ or Google groups (at least the former is a no-go for me, which is why I e.g. do not participate in the current SE app beta).

One alternative would be to have a link to where you host your app, always using the same name (e.g. my-latest.apk). This way you just need to drop them a note whenever you've placed a new version, and they can directly download it to their devices and install.

Another alternative would be using Aptoide, where you could establish your own repository/channel (they call it "store"). There's an app available for your users, which is similar to GooglePlayStore – which means no notices or manual checking needed, updates are signaled automatically. Aptoide (aka Bazaar) permits public and private stores, so you can chose how open your beta should be. For details, you might want to check with the introductionary video clip.

  • Awesome, I will check Aptoide – leojg Sep 5 '13 at 22:49

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