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Mick Dagohoy
Mick Dagohoy

Android Studio: Where to Find the APK File After Building


Where is the APK in Android Studio?




If you are developing an Android app using Android Studio, you might wonder where is the APK file that you can use to install your app on a device or emulator. An APK file is an Android application package that contains all the files and resources needed to run your app. In this article, you will learn what an APK file is, why you need it, how to generate it, how to sign it, and how to analyze it using Android Studio.


What is an APK file and why do you need it?




An APK file is a compressed archive that contains the following components:




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  • The AndroidManifest.xml file that describes the app's metadata, permissions, activities, services, etc.



  • The classes.dex file that contains the compiled Java code of your app.



  • The resources.arsc file that contains the compiled resources of your app, such as strings, images, layouts, etc.



  • The res folder that contains the uncompiled resources of your app.



  • The assets folder that contains any additional files that you want to include in your app, such as fonts, sounds, etc.



  • The META-INF folder that contains the signature and certificate of your app.



  • The lib folder that contains any native libraries that your app uses.



You need an APK file to install and run your app on a device or emulator. You can also use an APK file to distribute your app to users via various channels, such as Google Play Store, email, website, etc.


APK files for testing and debugging




If you want to test and debug your app during development, you can generate a debug APK file that is signed with a debug key generated by Android Studio. A debug APK file allows you to use features such as logging, debugging, and testing tools. However, a debug APK file cannot be uploaded to the Play Store or made available to the public.


APK files for releasing and distributing




If you want to release and distribute your app to users, you need to generate a release APK file that is signed with a key store that you create. A key store is a secure storage that contains a private key and a public certificate that identify you as the developer of the app. A release APK file ensures that your app is secure and authentic. However, a release APK file cannot be used for testing and debugging purposes.


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How to generate an APK file in Android Studio




There are two ways to generate an APK file in Android Studio: using the build menu option or using the command line option.


Build menu option




To generate an APK file using the build menu option, follow these steps:


  • In the toolbar, select your app from the run configurations menu.



  • In the target device menu, select the device that you want to run your app on. If you don't have any devices configured, you need to either create an Android Virtual Device to use the Android Emulator or connect a physical device.



  • Select Build > Build Bundle(s)/APK(s) > Build APK(s) from the toolbar menu.



  • Android Studio will take a few moments to generate an APK file. Once the build is complete, you will receive a notification on the bottom right corner of your screen. From that notification, select Locate and you will be directed to the folder where the APK file is located. The APK file will have the name app-debug.apk and will be stored in the app/build/outputs/apk/debug folder of your project.



You can now install the APK file on your device or emulator by either dragging and dropping it or using the adb install command.


Command line option




To generate an APK file using the command line option, follow these steps:


  • Open a terminal window and navigate to the root directory of your project.



  • Type the following command: ./gradlew assembleDebug. This will run the Gradle build script and generate an APK file.



  • The APK file will be located in the same folder as the build menu option: app/build/outputs/apk/debug. The APK file will have the same name: app-debug.apk.



You can now install the APK file on your device or emulator using the same methods as the build menu option.


How to generate a signed APK file in Android Studio




If you want to release and distribute your app to users, you need to generate a signed APK file that is signed with a key store that you create. There are two ways to generate a signed APK file in Android Studio: using the generate signed bundle/APK option or using the sign your app manually option.


What is a key store and why do you need it?




A key store is a secure storage that contains a private key and a public certificate that identify you as the developer of the app. The private key is used to sign your app, while the public certificate is used to verify your signature. You need a key store to ensure that your app is secure and authentic, and to prevent others from tampering with or impersonating your app.


Generate signed bundle/APK option




To generate a signed APK file using the generate signed bundle/APK option, follow these steps:


  • Select Build > Generate Signed Bundle/APK from the toolbar menu.



  • In the dialog that appears, select APK and click Next.



  • If you already have a key store, select Choose existing and browse to the location of your key store file. If you don't have a key store, select Create new and fill in the required fields to create one. Click Next.



  • Select the build variant that you want to sign, such as release. You can also select other options, such as V1 (Jar Signature) and V2 (Full APK Signature), which are different ways of signing your app. Click Finish.



  • Android Studio will take a few moments to generate a signed APK file. Once the build is complete, you will receive a notification on the bottom right corner of your screen. From that notification, select Show in Explorer/Finder and you will be directed to the folder where the signed APK file is located. The signed APK file will have the name app-release.apk and will be stored in the app/release folder of your project.



You can now distribute your signed APK file to users via various channels, such as Google Play Store, email, website, etc.


Sign your app manually option




To generate a signed APK file using the sign your app manually option, follow these steps:


Create a key store using either Android Studio or a command line tool such as keytool. You can find more information on how to create a key store here:


Create an unsigned APK file using either Android Studio or Gradle. You can find more information on how to create an unsigned APK file here:


Sign your unsigned APK file using either Android Studio or a command line tool such as jarsigner. You can find more information on how to sign your unsigned APK file here:


The signed APK file will be located in the same folder as the unsigned APK file. The signed APK file will have the same name as the


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