Trying to guess when an Android update goes live won’t be such a problem in the future: As per its support document, Google is now allowing developers to use a timed publishing approach for updates on the Play Store. 

In practice, that means once updates have been approved, app makers can choose when to publish them—say, to coincide with a press release or ad campaign. It brings parity with iOS where developers have been able to manually push updates out for some time (once Apple has given the all clear of course). 

See also: Google Bakes Fingerprint Tech Into Android And Opens Up Voice 

“Like standard publishing, processing can take a few hours,” says Google. “All updates need to be processed before they can go live. After processing, a Go live button will be available. After you click Go live, the update will be available on Google Play within minutes.” 

You Can Time App Updates—But Not Debuts

Google’s move looks like a welcome change for both developers and their users. Not only does it save app builders the stress of trying to work out when updates may go live, it also means users won’t be frustrated looking for them when they aren’t available yet. 

Bear in mind, however, that the change only applies to app updates, not new apps. But one way around that might be to publish to an alpha or beta test, or a demo version in the first instance, and then use timed publishing for the first full 1.0 release. 

It’s a small but significant step in the ongoing battle for developer attention: Among the many factors that might make them choose Android or iOS first, ease of publishing is an important one. Tools such as Fastlane can help, but ultimately Apple and Google hold the keys and set the ground rules.

Average review times on the iOS App Store are currently around seven days; Google’s approval process is much more automated, and updates are typically pushed through in a couple of hours—but the new system narrows the window down to just a few minutes, with no potential surprises. It does need to be activated manually however, and there’s no facility for reversing changes in timed publishing mode.

Image courtesy of Google