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Publishing updates

While you’re developing your project, you’re writing code on your computer, and when you use Expo CLI, a server and the Metro bundler run on your machine and bundle up all your source code and make it available from a URL. Your URL for a project you’re working on probably looks something like this: exp://i3-kvb.ccheever.an-example.exp.direct:80
exp.direct is a domain we use for tunneling, so that even if you’re behind a VPN or firewall, any device on the internet that has your URL should be able to access your project. This makes it much easier to open your project on your phone or send it someone else you’re collaborating with who isn’t on the same LAN.
But since the bundler and development server are running on your computer, if you turn off your laptop or stop Expo CLI, you won’t be able to load your project from that URL. "Publish" is the term we use for deploying your project. It makes your project available at a persistent URL, for example https://expo.dev/@community/native-component-list, which can be opened with the Expo Go app. It also uploads all of your app images, fonts, and videos to a CDN (read more here).

How to publish

To publish a project, click the Publish button in Expo Dev Tools. (It’s in the left side bar.) If you're using command line, run expo publish. No setup is required, go ahead and create a new project and publish it without any changes and you will see that it works.
When you do this, the bundler will create minify all your code and generate two versions of your code (one for iOS, one for Android) and then upload those to a free hosting service provided by Expo. You’ll get a link like https://exp.host/@ccheever/an-example that anyone can load your project from.
If you haven't optimized your assets yet you will be prompted and asked if you'd like to do so when you run expo publish. This has the same effect as running npx expo-optimize and will compress all of the PNGs and JPEGs in your project.
Any time you want to deploy an update, hit publish again and a new version will be available immediately to your users the next time they open it.

Your users will get the most recent compatible release that was pushed to a release channel. Factors that affect compatibility:
  • sdkVersion (standalone apps are built to support only a single SDK version)
  • platform
  • releaseChannel
The following flowchart shows how we determine which release to return to a user:
Serving Flowchart

When you're ready to distribute your app to end-users, you can create a standalone app binary (an ipa or apk file) and put it in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. See Distributing Your App.
The standalone app knows to look for updates at your app's published url, and if you publish an update then the next time a user opens your app they will automatically download the new version. These are commonly referred to as "Over the Air" (OTA) updates, the functionality is similar to CodePush, but it is built into Expo so you don't need to install anything.
To configure the way your app handles JS updates, see Offline Support.

In order for assets to be uploaded to the CDN, they must be explicitly required somewhere in your application's code. Conditionally requiring assets will result in the Metro bundler being unable to detect them and therefore they will not be uploaded when you publish your project. A great way to ensure your assets will be uploaded is to make use of pre-loading and caching assets.

If you make any of the following changes in app.json, you will need to re-build the binaries for your app for the change to take effect:
  • Increment the Expo SDK Version
  • Change anything under the ios, android, or notification keys
  • Change your app splash
  • Change your app icon
  • Change your app name
  • Change your app owner
  • Change your app scheme
  • Change your facebookScheme
  • Change your bundled assets under assetBundlePatterns
Additionally, changes to keys in Firebase configuration files (google-services.json and GoogleService-Info.plist) will require re-building the binaries to take effect in the iOS or Android standalone app.

When you publish, any Android user can open your app inside Expo Go immediately.
Due to restrictions imposed by Apple, the best way to share your published app is to build a native binary with Expo's build service. You can use Apple TestFlight to share the app with your testers, and you can submit it to the iTunes Store to share more widely.

You can set the privacy of your project in your app.json configuration file by setting the key “privacy” to either “public” or “unlisted”.
These options work similarly to the way they do on YouTube. Unlisted project URLs will be secret unless you tell people about them or share them. Public projects might be surfaced to other developers.

The default privacy setting for managed apps is unlisted so nobody can find your app unless you share the link with them.
If you really want your published app to be 'unpublished', check out our guide on Advanced Release Channels, which explains how to roll back.