Since a couple of years Google is offering beta testing for Android apps. With this feature companies or developers have the chance to release Android beta apps to mobile testers via the Google Play Store. This feature is integrated into the Google Play Developer Console and is very easy to use. All you have to do is to upload your beta apk file to the developer console and to publish the app to the known beta testers.
Mobile development teams are able to create their own beta testing community with the help of G+ communities or Google groups. Since last week, Google is offering two more options to improve the beta testing even further. With this update, mobile tester and developer are able to create a public beta tester group without the need of the G+ community or a Google group. All you have to do, is to enable this option in the developer console and to send the beta testing URL to possible testers.
The URL has the scheme: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.package.name. Whenever a tester is clicking this link he or she can become a beta tester of the app. After clicking the link, the beta tester will get an update of the app in the Google Play Store and is able to download the beta version.
The second option Google has introduced is a closed beta testing approach again without the need of a G+ community or Google group. All you have to do is to upload a list of gmail addresses of your beta testers. After that, your testers are able to download the beta app from the Play Store.
If you decide to establish a beta testing community in your team here are the 5 options to choose from:
- Closed beta testing group using a G+ community.
- Closed beta testing group using a Google group.
- Closed beta testing group using a list of known beta testers.
- A public beta testing group using just the testing URL.
- Manage testers for Google Play Games Services (for Gaming Apps).
The good thing is that Google supports the usage of more than one option. For example, when you already have a closed beta testing group using G+ or Google group in place you can also extend your group by using the public one. However, you should keep in mind when using the public testing approach, you don’t know anything about your testers. You have no chance to contact them and to ask them specific questions about the beta app. If you are using the closed approach, you can exchange about the latest beta app either via G+ community, Google group or e-mail.
The following support article from Google describes the whole beta testing approach:
Google also offer the possibility to publish an alpha version of the app to customers. If you have the alpha and/or beta testing approach established, I highly recommend to use also the staged rollout of your Android app. With the help of this rollout mechanism, you are able to publish your app to a small amount of your users, in order to see if a feature is working well or to test new features only with a small amount of your customers.
Currently you are able to rollout the app either to
of your customers. How to setup the staged rollout is also explained in the Google support document.
This Android beta testing approach is used by many companies and the cool thing is you can join the beta testing program to support the company and to get the latest features of the app before all other users. The following list shows some Android beta testing programs from known companies:
- Twitter: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/twitter-for-android-experiment
- Facebook: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/facebook-for-android-beta-testers
- XING: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/xing-android-beta
- Sonos: http://www.sonos.com/beta/screen/
The following video provided by Android Developers shows how Wooga is using the beta testing and staged rollouts in order to improve their apps.
Are you also using beta testing in your team?