Congrats - you have a mobile app ready for submitting to Google Play! If you don't have a Google Play Publisher account, which provides access to the developer console, you are going to want to sign up for that here.
Google Play Publisher Account
As of this writing, there is a one-time registration fee of $25. For sake of comparison, consider Apple charges $99 annually for their iOS developer program. If your app is a paid app, or offers in-app purchases, you will need to set up your Google payments merchant account. This step requires information about your company, and bank account info for sending payments.
Add New App
Alpha, Beta, Production
Submitting an app on Google Play once you have developer console access, payments set up and the app listing created is essentially a two-step process:
- submit for testing
- submit to store (publish)
From a developer's perspective however, configuring the app for submission is more complicated than just uploading the latest APK. Google recommends the following process for uploading an app build prior to releasing to testing:
The Google Play developer console provides access to features not yet supported in iTunes Connect, so those familiar with publishing iOS apps may not be aware they exist.
Additional Google Dev Console Features
First, Google Play has a simple user interface for creating builds for Alpha and Beta testing. Distributing access to these builds does not require an approval process like Apple does with Testflight. Second, Google provides both crash testing and device testing in their new Cloud Test Lab. This service is performed automatically when a new APK (app build) is submitted to either the alpha or beta testing track. Google will test the UI and functionality across devices and supporting operating systems and return a details report of finding and suggested fixes. Third, Google offer app optimization suggestions, from supporting tablets to localization recommendations. Once you have worked your way through the alpha and bester tester feedback, crash reports and Cloud Test reports, you can move your build to production by selecting "Ready to Publish" in the app listing's top right corner: Google offers a comprehensive app submission checklist, some of which was covered above, and much should be addressed well prior to app submission.