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cordova – Build android release apk on Phonegap 3.x CLI

Posted by: admin March 11, 2020 Leave a comment


How can I build an android app locally using the Phonegap 3.x CLI, ready to release? I check the bin folder generated inside the platforms/android directory of the project, and only has .debug APKs.

By the way, I use this command: phonegap local build android

How to&Answers:

This is for Phonegap 3.0.x to 3.3.x. For PhoneGap 3.4.0 and higher see below.

Found part of the answer here, at Phonegap documentation. The full process is the following:

  1. Open a command line window, and go to /path/to/your/project/platforms/android/cordova.

  2. Run build --release. This creates an unsigned release APK at /path/to/your/project/platforms/android/bin folder, called YourAppName-release-unsigned.apk.

  3. Sign and align the APK using the instructions at android developer official docs.

Thanks to @LaurieClark for the link (http://iphonedevlog.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/using-phonegap-3-0-cli-on-mac-osx-10-to-build-ios-and-android-projects/), and the blogger who post it, because it put me on the track.


In PhoneGap 3.4.0 you can call:

cordova build android --release

If you have set up the ‘ant.properties’ file in ‘platforms/android’ directory like the following:


Then you will be prompted for your keystore password and the output file (myapp-release.apk) ends up in the ‘platforms/android/ant-build’ directory already signed and aligned and ready to deploy.


In cordova 6.2.0

cd cordova/ #change to root cordova folder
platforms/android/cordova/clean #clean if you want
cordova build android --release -- --keystore="/path/to/keystore" --storePassword=password --alias=alias_name #password will be prompted if you have any

Previous answer:

According to cordova 5.0.0

     "android": {
         "release": {
             "keystore": "app-release-key.keystore",
             "alias": "alias_name"

and run ./build --release --buildConfig build.json from directory platforms/android/cordova/

keystore file location is relative to platforms/android/cordova/, so in above configuration .keystore file and build.json are in same directory.

keytool -genkey -v -keystore app-release-key.keystore -alias alias_name -keyalg RSA -keysize 2048 -validity 10000


Following up to @steven-anderson
you can also configure passwords inside the ant.properties, so the process can be fully automated

so if you put in platform\android\ant.properties the following



just wondered around a lot because I got the same issue but in my installation the command “cordova” was never available and “phone gap build android –release” just ignored the platform/android/ant.properties.

so looking inside my platform filter I found a folder named “cordova” and inside of it there was an “build” binary that accepted the –release argument, it asked me for the key chains and I ended with a signed and ready for production APK.

this was never documented in any part of the phone gap site and frankly speaking now I kinda hate phonegap 🙁 it was supposed to make the things easier but everything was just complicated 🙁


Building PhoneGap Android app for deployment to the Google Play Store

These steps would work for Cordova, PhoneGap or Ionic. The only difference would be, wherever a call to cordova is placed, replace it with phonegap or ionic, for your particular scenario.

Once you are done with the development and are ready to deploy, follow these steps:

  1. Open a command line window (Terminal on macOS and Linux OR Command Prompt on Windows).

  2. Head over to the /path/to/your/project/, which we would refer to as the Project Root.

  3. While at the project root, remove the “Console” plugin from your set of plugins.

    The command is: cordova plugin rm cordova-plugin-console

  4. While still at the project root, use the cordova build command to create an APK for release distribution.

    The command is: cordova build --release android

  5. The above process creates a file called android-release-unsigned.apk in the folder ProjectRoot/platforms/android/build/outputs/apk/

  6. Sign and align the APK using the instructions at https://developer.android.com/studio/publish/app-signing.html#signing-manually

    At the end of this step the APK which you get can be uploaded to the Play Store.

Note: As a newbie or a beginner, the last step may be a bit confusing as it was to me. One may run into a few issues and may have some questions as to what these commands are and where to find them.

Q1. What are jarsigner and keytool?
Ans: The Android App Signing instructions do tell you specifically what jarsigner and keytool are all about BUT it doesn’t tell you where to find them if you run into a ‘command not found error’ on the command line window.

Thus, if you’ve got the Java Development Kit(JDK) added to your PATH variable, simply running the commands as in the Guide would work. BUT, if you don’t have it in your PATH, you can always access them from the bin folder of your JDK installation.

Q2. Where is zipalign?
Ans: There is a high probability to not find the zipalign command and receive the ‘command not found error’. You’d probably be googling zipalign and where to find it?

The zipalign utility is present within the Android SDK installation folder. On macOS, the default location is at, user-name/Library/Android/sdk/. If you head over to the folder you would find a bunch of other folders like docs, platform-tools, build-tools, tools, add-ons

Open the build-tools folder. cd build-tools. In here, there would be a number of folders which are versioned according to the build tool-chain you are using in the Android SDK Manager. ZipAlign is available in each of these folders. I personally go for the folder with the latest version on it. Open Any.

On macOS or Linux you may have to use ./zipalign rather than simply typing in zipalign as the documentation mentions. On Windows, zipalign is good enough.


i got this to work by copy pasting the signed app in the same dir as zipalign. It seems that aapt.exe could not find the source file even when given the path. i.e.
this did not work
zipalign -f -v 4 C:…\CordovaApp-release-unsigned.apk C:…\destination.apk
it reached aapt.exeCordovaApp-release-unsigned.apk , froze and upon hitting return
‘aapt.exeCordovaApp-release-unsigned.apk’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.
And this did
zipalign -f -v 4 CordovaApp-release-unsigned.apk myappname.apk


I know this question asks about Phonegap 3.X specifically, but just for reference any Phonegap version above 4.0.0 uses Gradle instead of Ant to build by default. To use Ant instead of Gradle you can add this to your config.xml:

<preference name="android-build-tool" value="ant" />

When using Gradle the keystore signing information now needs to go into a new location (as outlined in this post). Create new file called ‘release-signing.properties‘ in the same folder as “build.gradle” file and put inside the following content:

// if you don't want to enter the password at every build, you can store it with this


You could try this command, it should build and run the app (so .apk should be created) :

phonegap local run android