One-Click Beta Testing Comes to Google Play
Whether it's an article or an app, there are times when the creator wants to be selective about who sees his or her work in progress, so they can get feedback and address any issues before it's released to the masses.
In the development world, beta testing has long been a way for developers to test applications in a limited scope. In fact, Google has found that 80 percent of developers with popular apps routinely run beta tests as part of their workflow. Running beta tests in Google Play, however, hasn't always been the most intuitive experience. Based on developer feedback, Google Play has made changes to managing a beta test in the Developer Console. Whereas before select user groups would download the app on Google Play (minus the ability to review or rate it in the store), now developers can use open beta which allows them to send a link to any users they want to be able to use the app with a single click.
The other update Google Play has made to its Developer Console is the addition of closed beta using email addresses (developers can continue to use closed betas with Google+ communities or Google Groups). This allows a company to add email addresses individually or upload as a .csv file. These select users can then join the beta via a one-click opt-in link.
For the 20 percent of developers with popular apps not already using beta testing, it should be noted that the benefits of beginning to do so are plenty, including to uncover issues they never would have known about otherwise (or would have known about after their apps' ratings plummeted).
Not all beta tests are created equal, however. Matt Small, co-founder of Vector Unit (developers of Beach Buggy Racing) provides a few tips to Android developers, including limiting more sensitive builds to closed betas, setting expectations of users about the risks of beta testing, encouraging critical feedback and, lastly, responding quickly to users.