So, I’ve played with Google Play Beta Testing for Android for a couple weeks since Google IO now. I think there’s a lot of promise, but for now the process is perhaps a bit overly complicated.
Here are the steps to get it working (first time only):
- Create a Google+ community for the Beta tester group
- Sign into the Google Play Developer console, go to the APK section, then the Beta (or Alpha) tab and click “Manage list of testers”
- Select your community
Now for each new person, you have to do the following:
- Invite tester to community (might have to sign up for Google+, might have to learn what Google+ is, etc)
- Make tester click a link to switch them to the beta build (format of https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.your.package.name)
- Send them to the Google Play store to download your app (again?) to get beta build
If they do these steps out of order, it won’t work.
I really appreciate the effort Google has made to make it easier to distribute Beta versions of apps directly from the Developer Console and how easy it is to “Promote to Prod” when a given build has passed beta testing, but I think the first-time setup process could be better, and they could open it up to people without Google+ accounts (I’ve had at least one person decline to Beta test because they’re afraid of social media.)
Further Reading: Official documentation.