How to publish a Google Cardboard app for Android to Google Play

Google has big plans with its Daydream platform, which brings low-latency VR to Android, and includes controllers and Daydream-ready hardware. However, for experiences which only require a simple headset and run fine on lower-end phones, Google Cardboard is still a good option.

This tutorial guides you through the process of publishing a Google Cardboard app for Android to Google Play. Besides this tutorial, I recommend you read the Google Cardboard SDK documentation.

Building & Signing Your App

If you have developed your app in Unity, you can simply go to File > Build Settings, switch platform to Android, and then click Build to export your app as an APK file. This APK file can then be installed on an Android phone for testing purposes. However, to create an app that can be uploaded to Google Play, you will need to code sign your APK. And to code sign your APK, you need to create a so-called keystore, which is a file containing unique code Google uses to identify your specific app.

To create a keystore file:

  1. Go to the Publishing Settings tab found under the Android Player Settings in Unity.
  2. Select Create New Keystore and then click the Browse Keystore button.
  3. Give your keystore a name and click on Save.
  4. Now fill in a password for your keystore in the Keystore password and Confirm password fields.
  5. In the dropdown menu behind Alias, select Create a new key and fill in the necessary info in the window that opens, after which you can click Create key.
  6. Now select your newly created key in the dropdown behind Alias and fill in your keystore password in the Password field.

If you now build your APK it will be signed and ready for submission to Google Play! It is very important that you make a backup of your keystore file and its password, because without it you will not be able to submit an update of your app to Google Play ever again.

If you have uploaded all the assets of your Google Cardboard app to Headjack, then you select Cardboard Android as Platform, Store as Distribution Channel, and then select or add your keystore file and fill in the passwords before clicking Build Application. You will then receive a signed APK which is ready to be submitted to the Google Play store! You can generate a keystore file using the above mentioned steps or using Android Studio and then upload it on the Settings > App Signing page under your Headjack account.

Submitting Your App

To submit an app to Google Play, you will need to create a Google developer account if you don’t have one yet. Click here to create one. Now that you have a developer account, you can click Publish an Android app on Google Play which shows you a popup window. Select the language of your app and fill in your app title, then press Upload APK. In the next screen, click Upload your first APK to Production and select the signed APK file we created earlier.

Once your APK is uploaded, continue on to the Store Listing tab to fill in your app description, upload your 512×512 pixel app icon, some screenshots, and a 1024×500 pixel Feature Graphic, and fill in information like your contact details. Save and navigate to the Content Rating tab, where you can click Start new questionnaire. This short questionnaire is required to assess the content rating of your app, so answer all the questions and proceed to the Pricing & Distribution tab. Here, select if your app is paid or free, and make sure you tick all the mandatory boxes marked with a blue star.

Once you finished all the above mentioned steps, all that remains to be done is to press Publish App in the top-right corner. If everything is ok, your app will be live within 48 hours, usually faster.

Let me know in the comments if you are still left with some burning questions!