How to Beta Test Android Mobile Applications
There is no shame in asking for help by public beta testing your Android mobile application; it is actually wise to do so. Before the beta testing program was streamlined through the Google Play store, Android users were forced to use the mobile web version of the application or direct download app APK files without the ability to update automatically to new beta release versions.
Android worldwide has the significant market share, even in the US. As part of mobile app discovery, mobile app store reviews are increasingly important for optimization whereas beta testing can eliminate negative reviews by helping you discover and fix bugs and fatal crashes before prime time release.
Beta Testing Android in Google Play has three main components to end users:
1. Get Users to join your Google+ Android app community page
2. Users must opt-in to accept becoming a beta tester
3. Users must download the beta app version from the Play Store to their personal Android device
Step 1: Contact your users and encourage them to join your Google+ Android App Community page that you’ve created through the Google Play Developer Console. For your users who don’t have Android, encourage them to share the beta Google+ group signup information on Facebook, Twitter, and by emailing friends. It’s a good idea to let them know they can provide feedback within the Google+ Android community page or through a dedicated email address or developer website. The Google+ page will also serve as a forum to notify beta users of upcoming changes and a way to privately respond to feedback as quickly as you can.
Step 2: From your Google+ Android App Community page, mobile users have to first join then opt-in to the beta program with Google directly. Since users have to be accepted to your private Google+ page, developers can manage a staged rollout as to who can become a beta tester. Users who opt-in are accepting the risk to their Android devices while trialing your beta application. Hopefully your app doesn’t ask for more permissions than truly needed or make permanent changes to core mobile phone components such as Contact information while testing.
Step 3: Users who have both joined and opted-in to the beta program can now download beta versions of your Android mobile application directly through the Google Play Store. This will install through the normal native install format while remaining private to beta testers. Since this is an early beta, not everything will work perfectly. Fortunately, testers can’t leave public reviews for alpha/beta apps on Google Play.
After you have Android beta tested your application and you have released your app to the general public, beta users can be your biggest fans leaving early positive App Store reviews.
For additional resources, please see Google’s official help guide for use alpha/beta testing and staged rollouts of Android native applications.