Alpha and Beta-testing on Android devices

Android robot Alpha and Beta-testing on Android devices

In a perfect world there are perfect developers who write perfect code and publish their perfect applications in app stores at first try. Of course, their application succeeds. Too perfect to be true, isn’t it?

Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world, where one can not be 100% sure about his application idea and create it without any bugs or glitches. Well, except for the simplest ones (still, it’s really hard to come up with brilliant and simple idea). In all other cases you have to test your native mobile application and organize focus groups. Well, everything is pretty clear with focus group itself, but with its organizing? Not so much. Let’s talk about one little but very useful Google Play’s feature – alpha- and beta-testing of your native Android application.

In 2013 Google provided developers with an opportunity to beta-test their Android applications. Before that developers had to use various (and often quite inconvenient) methods to provide their QA-team or focus groups with the latest application build – downloading their applications to external file hostings, using third-party solutions, or even creating their own Google Play alternatives. Those methods can only make things more complicated than they already are – user has to perform many additional actions.

 

Types of Android application testing

 

With that being said, now Google provides developers with three different options to test their native Android apps:

 

  • Alpha-testing. This option is suitable for early builds of an application (when you definitely don’t want your application to be seen by wide audience). Alpha-testing is being held only by development and quality assurance team members, i.e. no external users allowed. Alpha-testing allows to understand if application’s idea is viable. Also it allows to find and fix most critical bugs that prevent your Android application from working.
  • Beta-testing. At this stage your team can expand its focus group. You can include product owner, stakeholders, or, per say, most trusted users. By the way, there are two types of beta-test – closed and open. Closed beta-test implies creating test group in Google+ or sending invitations to testers via e-mail. It helps you to keep track of who has access to your application and can test its latest build.
  • Open beta-test does not require from you to send e-mail invitations or create any groups in social networks. It allows you to create really big focus groups without any limitations. With focus groups that big, you can get plenty of feedback. Or, for example, if you develop a client-server application, you can use open beta-test to learn more about how your server can handle heavy loads. Despite the fact, that this an “open” beta-test, you still can limit the amount of users who can install and test your mobile application. Your focus group should consist of your target (but still loyal) audience. This is the way for your team to get honest external feedback.

 

All three options are available for any Android developer in Google Play Developer Console. Your development team can switch between testing stages at any point of development process if you need to increase or decrease the size of focus group. Also, keep in mind that you have to code your application builds correctly. If production build has higher version code than alpha (or even beta) build, those versions will be unavailable for QA-team.

Aside from types of testing, Google also allows you to set tester’s type. With that being said, alpha-testers will be granted access to all of application’s builds, while beta-testers will only have access to beta and production builds.

Google does not force anyone to use these features while developing an Android application. But you definitely should use all of them – quality assurance can drain a lot of money and resources from your budget. Easy-to-use method for providing your focus group with latest application’s builds can easily cut your expenses on testing just because it’s much less time consuming. It does not matter, whether you are a client or a developer – you should always give high priority to testing of your application.

Alpha and Beta-testing on Android devices
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