I am pretty sure most of you already know what a Beta Testing Apps mean. For those who don’t, let me start with Alpha testing first. During the initial development phase, the app goes through a rigorous in-house alpha testing process that is conducted by an expert team of developers and testers. It usually aims at fixing the main bugs and glitches that are quite obvious.
In Mobile world, Device fragmentation and Multiple OS (and its versions) makes the permutations & combinations grow exponentially. It’s very difficult to replicate every possible configuration, test query, and bug that could occur when many users try the App. Apart from the typical errors, there are many other defect types that can go unnoticed or are hard to find. That’s where Beta testing apps comes to a rescue – a larger group of testers; the Beta testers.
No matter how carefully you test your app, there’s nothing like the real-world test of having other people use it. An App’s Beta release means rolling out not-so-perfect copy of the software to a larger set of Users before you actually ‘Go Live’. Beta testers try your app, use it consistently for a specific period of time and report back any issues, bugs or feedback about the app. The main goal of beta testing apps is to get real-world exposure, know how the app will feel in the hands of actual users and what needs fixing and what needs ditching! In fact, 80 percent of developers with popular apps routinely run beta tests as part of their workflow.
Benefits of Beta Testing Apps
- Reach a larger & diverse group of potential users
- Gather valuable & broader feedback early on, both good and bad
- The ability to test quality of new features and fixes across experiences (diversity of devices and OS versions)
- Get performance data and feedback from more people ahead of release across a wider range of devices and versions
- Get a wider, more representative swath of testers
- Eliminate the blind spots and identify a snapshot of the diversity of use cases to test
- Factors like data costs and network speeds are especially important to users. Optimize the User experience in light of so many use cases to solve
- Speed up the time to launch when it comes to rolling out features to the public version of the App
- Help developers “iterate faster” to develop or improve features
Google Play – Beta Testing Apps (Android)
In 2013, Google opened up the Google Play Store to provide proper beta testing for applications. That is, the ability for app developers to run official alpha and beta testing apps programs via its app store, to users who are willing to test features that may not yet be ready for prime-time. Testers can download pre-release versions of apps via Google Play, Apple-owned TestFlight or another third-party distribution program. The Google Play Developer Console lets developers release early versions of their app to selected users as an alpha or beta test before pushing updates to full production.
- Open beta – Any user who has the link can join App Beta with just one click. Advantage? It allows developers to scale to a large number of testers. However, developers can also limit the maximum number of users who can join.
- Closed beta – Developers can restrict which users can access App Beta, using email addresses, Google+ community or Google Group.
Apple – Beta Testing Apps (iOS)
Before uploading your app to iTunes Connect, optionally distribute it for testing on registered devices using an ad hoc provisioning profile or team provisioning profile. These distribution methods allow you to test variants of your app that are built locally by Xcode. Testers don’t need to be team members or iTunes Connect users to run the app, but their devices need to be registered in Member Center.
An ad hoc provisioning profile allows the app to be installed on designated devices (using unique device ID) and to use app services without the assistance of Xcode. Use the other type of distribution provisioning profile later to submit the app to the store.
- Each individual or organization can register up to 100 devices per product family per membership year for development and testing
- Sign the iOS App file using the distribution certificate specified in the ad hoc provisioning profile
- The ad hoc provisioning profile is included in the app bundle when you build and archive the app
- Install the app on a test device
- The app successfully launches if the app’s bundle ID matches the App ID, the signature matches the distribution certificate, and the device is in the device list of the ad-hoc provisioning profile
Windows Beta testing Apps
The Windows Dev Center dashboard gives the option to make the app available only to specified people so that testers try it out before it is offered to the public. In the unified Windows Dev Center dashboard, you can even limit distribution of the app to only specific testers without needing to create a separate version of the app with a separate name and package identity. Complete the testing, then create a new submission when it’s ready for everyone.
Best App Distribution Platforms
- TestFlight: The easiest and most used tool to distribute apps to external testers
- Google Play Beta Testing: Android developers shouldn’t forget about the tool they already have
- Crashyltics Beta: Provides you with a streamlined solution for distributing apps, with a single toolset for iOS and Android
- HockeyApp: It has crash reports and analytics built in
- Hockey Kit: Hockey Kit is the self-hosted, Open Source version of Hockey App
- Test Fairy: Alternative for Android developers as it helps you get your apps to testers and see a video of what every tester is doing, even in real time
- Appaloosa: Simple and secure enterprise app store
- AppBlade: Manage devices and deploy apps to employees and beta testers
- Installrapp: Easy iOS beta distribution with API
Beta testing apps have become increasingly popular among tech enthusiasts with more and more services extending the nightly builds. There are a ton of apps out there that have beta programs that are open to just about anyone and everyone. Chrome, Twitter, Facebook, IMDB, Snapchat are among the few list of apps that already offer beta programs. But before you join the program, do keep in mind that test versions may be unstable or have a few bugs. Do make sure your device is well protected with anti-virus software to detect any malicious bug from App’s beta.