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Scott Tran
Scott Tran

Release mode signing: A step-by-step guide for uploading an APK or Android App Bundle


How to Fix the Error of Uploading an APK or Android App Bundle that was Signed in Debug Mode




If you are developing an app for Android using Flutter, React Native, or any other framework, you might encounter an error when you try to upload your app to Google Play. The error message says something like this:




you uploaded an apk or android app bundle that was signed in debug mode



You uploaded an APK or Android App Bundle that was signed in debug mode. You need to sign your APK or Android App Bundle in release mode.


This error means that you have not signed your app properly before uploading it to Google Play. Signing your app is a way of proving that you are the author of the app and that the app has not been tampered with by anyone else. Signing your app also ensures that users can install and update your app without any security issues.


In this article, we will explain what debug mode and release mode are, why debug mode is not suitable for publishing apps, how to sign your app in release mode, and how to fix the error of uploading an APK or Android App Bundle that was signed in debug mode.


What is Debug Mode and Why is it Not Suitable for Publishing Apps?




Debug mode is a configuration that enables debugging features and disables optimization




Debug mode is a configuration that you can use when you are developing and testing your app. Debug mode enables some features that make debugging easier, such as:



  • Logging messages to the console



  • Attaching a debugger to the app process



  • Setting breakpoints and inspecting variables



  • Using hot reload and hot restart



Debug mode also disables some features that make your app run faster and smoother, such as:



  • Code shrinking



  • Code obfuscation



  • Resource optimization



  • Dex compilation



Debug mode can impact the performance, security, and functionality of your app




While debug mode is useful for development and testing purposes, it is not suitable for publishing apps. Debug mode can have negative effects on the performance, security, and functionality of your app, such as:


How to sign an app bundle in release mode using Android Studio[^1^]


Android App Bundle signing error: debug mode detected[^2^]


What is the difference between APKs and AABs in Android[^4^]


Steps to generate a keystore and an upload key for Android App Bundle[^1^] [^2^]


Benefits of using Play App Signing and Android App Bundle[^2^]


How to change your app signing key in case of compromise or migration[^2^]


How to use apksigner to sign your app bundle from the command line[^2^]


How to use jarsigner to sign your app bundle manually[^1^]


How to encrypt and export your app signing key for Play App Signing[^2^]


How to upload your app signing key to Play App Signing[^2^]


How to generate and register an upload certificate for future updates[^2^]


How to use flutter build appbundle to create an app bundle with Flutter[^3^]


How to configure your build.gradle file for app bundle signing[^3^]


How to create a key.properties file for app bundle signing with Flutter[^3^]


How to fix the error "You uploaded an APK or Android App Bundle that is not signed with the upload certificate" [^3^]


How to use the Android App Bundle and support Google Plays advanced delivery modes[^2^]


How to use feature modules and offer instant experiences with the Android App Bundle[^2^]


How to use Google Play Asset Delivery with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to use Google Play Dynamic Delivery with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to use Google Play Instant with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to test your app bundle before uploading it to Google Play[^4^]


How to troubleshoot common issues with app bundle signing and delivery[^4^]


How to optimize your app size and performance with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to reduce download size and on-device footprint with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to increase user retention and conversion rates with the Android App Bundle[^4^]


How to manage multiple APKs or app bundles for different device configurations[^4^]


How to support devices that don't have Google Play with APKs generated from your app bundle[^4^]


How to use bundletool to generate APKs from your app bundle locally[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request dynamic feature modules at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request instant apps at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request in-app updates at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request review flow at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request safety net attestation at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request deferred installation of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request uninstallation of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request conditional delivery of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request on-demand delivery of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request pre-registration of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to request immediate installation of modules or asset packs at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to check the status of module or asset pack requests at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to cancel module or asset pack requests at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to register listeners for module or asset pack events at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library to handle errors and exceptions for module or asset pack requests at runtime[^4^]


How to use the Play Core Library API reference documentation for more details on each method and class [text](https://developer.android.com/reference/com/google/android/play/core/package-summary)



  • Your app will be larger in size and take longer to download and install



  • Your app will consume more memory and CPU resources and drain more battery power



  • Your app will be more vulnerable to reverse engineering and hacking attacks



  • Your app will not work properly on some devices or platforms due to compatibility issues



  • Your app will not comply with Google Play's policies and requirements for publishing apps



Therefore, you should always sign your app in release mode before uploading it to Google Play.</p What is Release Mode and How to Sign Your App in Release Mode?




Release mode is a configuration that disables debugging features and enables optimization




Release mode is a configuration that you should use when you are ready to publish your app to Google Play or other app stores. Release mode disables some features that are only useful for development and testing, such as:



  • Logging messages to the console



  • Attaching a debugger to the app process



  • Setting breakpoints and inspecting variables



  • Using hot reload and hot restart



Release mode also enables some features that make your app run faster and smoother, such as:



  • Code shrinking



  • Code obfuscation



  • Resource optimization



  • Dex compilation



Release mode requires you to sign your app with a certificate before uploading it to Google Play




Release mode also requires you to sign your app with a certificate before uploading it to Google Play. A certificate is a file that contains information about your identity and a public key that can be used to verify your signature. Signing your app with a certificate ensures that you are the author of the app and that the app has not been modified by anyone else.


You can use different types of certificates to sign your app, depending on how you are releasing your app:



  • If you are using Android App Bundles, you need to sign your app bundle with an upload key, which is a certificate that you generate yourself and register with Google Play. Google Play will then use another certificate, called the app signing key, to sign the APKs that it generates from your app bundle. The app signing key is either generated by Google Play or provided by you if you opt for key upgrade.



  • If you are using APKs, you need to sign your APK with an app signing key, which is a certificate that you generate yourself and keep in a secure location. You can also use an upload key to sign your APK, but you need to enroll in Play App Signing and upload your app signing key to Google Play.



You can sign your app in release mode using Android Studio, apksigner, or jarsigner




There are different tools that you can use to sign your app in release mode, depending on your preference and workflow. Here are some of the most common tools:



  • If you are using Android Studio, you can use the Generate Signed Bundle / APK option from the Build menu. This option will guide you through the steps of creating a keystore file, which is a file that contains your certificate and private key, and signing your app bundle or APK with it. You can also configure your build.gradle file to automate the signing process.



  • If you are using the command line, you can use the apksigner tool, which is part of the Android SDK build tools. This tool allows you to sign your app bundle or APK with a keystore file or a key and certificate pair. You can also use the apksigner tool to verify and align your signed app bundle or APK.



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