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Building Android apps (APKs) in Construct 3

Published 12 Oct, 2017
872 words
~3-6 mins

Construct 3 has its own mobile app build service, which can build your mobile apps for you. This feature is only available to subscribers. Here's how to get Construct 3 to build an APK (an Android app) for you.

Building signed APKs

This tutorial covers building Debug or Unsigned release APKs. These are generally used for testing, or if you intend to sign the APK yourself.

If you are ready to publish an APK and want to use Construct 3 to build a signed APK for you, see the tutorial Building a signed APK for Android in Construct 3. Alternatively if you build an unsigned release APK, you can then sign it manually.

Prepare your project

You might want to catch up on the tutorials supporting multiple screen sizes and touch controls to make sure your project is ready for use on mobile. It's also easy to test on mobile using Construct 3's Remote Preview feature.

Also, make sure you fill out everything in the About section of Project Properties, such as the author, app ID, version and so on. All this information will be used by the exported app.

Export

Once you're satisfied your project works well on mobile and is ready to be exported, select MenuProjectExport and pick the Android (Cordova) option.

When the Cordova options dialog appears, there's a dropdown list labelled Android build. If you just want to test your project as a mobile app, choose Debug APK. If you want to test something closer to the finished thing, or you intend to manually sign the APK yourself, choose Unsigned release APK.

Building the APK

When you continue, your project will be uploaded to the app build service for building. This can take a while. You can carry on working in Construct while the app is uploaded, built and downloaded again. The status of the build will be shown in the lower-left corner of the window.

When the build finishes, a dialog will pop up with a "Build finished!" message, and a link to download the resulting APK.

Testing a debug APK

Follow these steps if you chose the Debug APK option. Otherwise skip to the next section for information about signing a release APK.

Enable developer mode

You can't run debug APKs on an Android device until you enable Developer Mode. Follow these steps to enable it:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Find the About section and tap it
  3. Find the Build number. This might be in a sub-section, like Software information, or More.
  4. Tap the Build number repeatedly until you see a notification that developer mode is enabled.

Now you can install debug APKs! It will also show a new Developer options section in Settings, but you don't need that for this guide.

Transfer the APK to your device

Once you've downloaded the .apk file, it's on your computer, but it needs to be on your Android device. There are a number of ways you can transfer the file to your device. Here's a couple of ideas:

  • Upload it to a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. Then use the mobile app to download it again on the device.
  • Connect your device to your computer with a cable and transfer it across to the device's storage.
  • Copy the file to a USB drive, and then connect the USB drive to the Android device. (You might need a USB On-The-Go cable.)
  • Construct 3 works on Android, so you can actually do the build in Construct 3 on an Android device and have the APK download to the device directly.
  • Look for an Android app that supports transferring files from a computer.
  • If all else fails, try emailing it to yourself in an attachment and open the email on the device.

Run the APK

Once you tap the APK file on your Android device, you should see a screen asking if you want to install it. Tap Install and after a moment you should see a success message and an option to open the app. (It'll also be in the apps section if you want to run it later.) Open the app and you should see your game running!

Next steps

Generally you'll build a few debug apps during testing to ensure everything is working correctly. Once you're ready to publish your app, it'll need to be signed first.

Construct 3 can build a signed APK for you. For more information see Building a signed APK for Android in Construct 3.

Alternatively if you build an unsigned release APK, you can sign it yourself manually. This is only suitable for advanced users. For more information see Manually signing Android apps (APKs).

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