App testing requirements for new personal developer accounts

In November 2023, we're changing the requirements for publishing new apps on Google Play, to help developers to test their app, identify issues, get feedback, and ensure that everything is ready before they launch. These changes will require developers with personal accounts created after November 13, 2023, to meet specific testing requirements before they can make their app available on Google Play.

This article provides an overview of the new requirements, a summary of the different testing tracks in Play Console, and the steps that developers with personal accounts will need to take to make their apps available to users on Google Play.

Introducing testing requirements for newly-created personal accounts

Testing is an integral part of the app development process. By running tests against your app consistently, you can verify your app's correctness, functional behavior, and usability before you release it publicly. This minimizes the impact of any technical or user experience issues, and helps you to release the best version of your app. Developers that regularly use Play Console's testing tools prior to publishing their apps are able to provide higher quality experiences that can lead to higher ratings and more success on Google Play.

To help all developers to deliver high-quality apps, we're introducing new testing requirements. Developers with personal accounts created after November 13, 2023, will need to test their apps before those apps are eligible to be published for distribution on Google Play. Certain features in Play Console, such as Production (Release > Production) and Pre-registration (Release > Testing > Pre-registration), will be disabled until developers meet these requirements.

Overview of testing requirements

If you have a newly created personal developer account, you must run a closed test for your app with a minimum of 20 testers who have been opted-in for at least the last 14 days continuously. When you meet these criteria, you can apply for production access on the Dashboard in Play Console so that you can ultimately distribute your app on Google Play. When you apply, you must answer some questions to help us understand your app, its testing process, and its production readiness.

You can read about the different types of testing tracks and requirements for each in more detail below, and find more details about applying for production access.

Understanding different testing tracks and their requirements

Play Console provides different types of testing tracks so that you can gradually ramp up testing and improve your app to the point that it's ready to reach billions of users on Google Play.

  • Internal testing: Before you've finished setting up your app, you can quickly distribute builds to a small group of your own trusted testers. This can help you to identify issues and get early feedback. Builds are normally available to testers within seconds of being added in Play Console. Internal testing is optional, but we recommend that you start here.
  • Closed testing: With closed testing, you can share your app with a wide group of users that you control. This allows you to fix issues and ensure that your app complies with Google Play policy before you launch. You must run a closed test before you can apply to publish your app to production. At least 20 testers must be opted-in to your closed test when you apply for production access. They must have been opted-in for the last 14 days continuously. You can start a closed test once you're finished setting up your app.
  • Open testing: Allows you to surface your app's test version on Google Play. If you run an open test, anyone can join your testing program and submit private feedback to you. Before choosing this option, make sure your app and store listing is ready to be visible on Google Play. Open testing is available when you have production access.
  • Production: Where you make your app available to billions of users on Google Play. Before you can apply to publish your app to production, you need to run a closed test which meets our criteria. When you apply, you'll also need to answer some questions about your closed test. When you apply for production access, at least 20 testers must be opted-in to your closed test. They must have been opted-in for the last 14 days continuously.
Summary of testing requirements per track

You may find the table below helpful for quickly checking or referencing what each track is for, and what the requirements are (if any) to access each track.

Track types Purpose Requirements to access this track
Internal testing To quickly distribute builds to a small group of your own trusted testers to identify issues and get early feedback (before or after you've finished setting up your app). None.
Closed testing To share your app with a wide group of users that you control so you can fix issues and ensure that your app complies with Google Play's policies before launch. Must have finished setting up your app.
Open testing

To surface your app's test version on Google Play — anyone can join your test and submit private feedback to you.

Must have gained access to production to access open testing.
Production To make your app available to billions of users on Google Play.

Before you can apply for production access, you must run a closed test with at least 20 opted-in testers for 14 days.

Once you've met the criteria, you will then be able to apply for production access by answering some questions about your testing, your app, and its production readiness in Play Console.

Guidance and best practices for closed testing

You can learn how to design, develop, and distribute your Android apps on Google through the helpful links below:

Recruiting testers

The most common way to recruit testers is to use personal and professional networks. You can reach out to your friends, family, colleagues, or classmates, for example, and ask them to be beta testers for your app. You can reach out to communities where users are likely to exist and actively recruit them to test your app. For example, if you're building an app for CrossFit enthusiasts, then consider approaching a local club or connecting with your target users in online groups. You can also post about your app on social media and ask your followers to sign up for testing.

If possible, you should recruit a diverse group of testers to identify bugs and usability issues that may be specific to certain types of users or devices. For the same reason, you should also recruit testers who you believe to be representative of your app's future users. For example, if you're developing a productivity app for businesses, you should recruit testers who are business professionals from different industries in which you believe your app may be popular. The closer your test users are to your target users, the more useful feedback you'll receive.

Engaging with testers

Once you have recruited a group of beta testers, it's important to provide them with clear instructions on how to test your app and report bugs. Let your testers know what type of feedback you are looking for. Try to encourage testers to use as many of your app's features as possible in order to receive holistic feedback.

Include a feedback channel or let your users know how they can provide you with feedback (for example, by email, website, or message forum). Your testers can also provide you with private feedback through Google Play.

Important: Emphasize to your testers that they need to remain opted in to your closed test for at least 14 days continuously.

Gathering and viewing user feedback

If you have an app in testing, you can access and reply to user feedback in Play Console. Feedback from users is only visible to you and can't be seen on Google Play.

  1. Open Play Console and go to the Testing feedback page (Ratings and reviews > Testing feedback).
  2. Decide how you want to browse your feedback.
    • Filter: To see beta feedback based on certain criteria (such as date, language, reply state, app version, device, and more), select from the available filters.
    • Search: To look for specific words in your feedback, use the search box.
Tip: Keep a record of feedback you receive. Rereading this later may make it easier for you to identify common feedback themes or issues that you want to address in the short or long term to improve your app. We'll also ask you to summarize your testing feedback for us later when you apply for production access.

Acting on user feedback

Throughout your app's testing period, you should be responsive to your testers' feedback and make sure to fix any bugs that they find. This will:

  • Help to improve your app's user experience;
  • increase the likelihood of a successful application for production access; and
  • make it more likely to avoid negative reviews when you begin to distribute your app on Google Play.

Advanced testing

The guidance in this article is just a starting point to help you understand testing basics as you prepare to distribute your first app. You can explore far more advanced testing resources and techniques to optimize your app's quality as you become more experienced as a developer. For example, you may want to learn about testing apps on Android and the fundamentals of testing on the Android Developers site.

Play Console also provides a range of features that can help you identify issues with your app. You can set up and run a pre-launch report to proactively identify issues before your app reaches users via a detailed report listing issues, warnings, and errors that you may want to investigate and resolve.

Running closed tests

You can learn how to set up and run a closed test using this Help Center page.

Apply for access to production

Once you've met the closed testing requirements, you can apply for production access. To begin:

  1. Go to the Dashboard.
  2. Click Apply for production.

You must then answer the following questions about your closed test, your app, and its production readiness. These questions are divided into three sections:

  • About your closed test
  • About your app/game
  • Production readiness

You can find guidance for providing information for each section by expanding the sections below.

Part 1: Tell us about your closed test

The information you provide in the "About your closed test" section helps us to ensure that apps have been satisfactorily tested before they're published on Google Play. This helps us to protect users from low-quality apps, prevent the spread of malware, and reduce fraud.

Here's what you need to share to complete this section:

  1. Let us know how easy you found it to recruit testers for your app by selecting one of the options listed. This helps us to understand how developers are experiencing Google Play's testing requirements.
  2. Provide information about the engagement you received from testers during your closed test. Examples of relevant information here includes:
    • Whether testers used all of your app's features
    • Whether your testers' usage was consistent with how you would expect a production user to use your app and, if not, the differences you would expect to see.
  3. Finally, summarize the feedback that you received from testers, and let us know how you collected this feedback.
  4. Click Next.
    • Important: If you click Discard or quit without selecting next and finishing your application for production access, your changes won't be saved.
Part 2: Tell us about your app/game

The information you provide in the "About your app/game" section helps us to learn more relevant information about your app or game to better understand your app or game. Your answers are not shown on Google Play, and won't affect the features and services you can access in Play Console, how your app or game is displayed, or your eligibility for Google Play developer programs.

Here's what you need to share to complete this section:

  1. Let us know who is the intended audience of your app or game. Please be as specific as possible.
  2. The second question varies slightly depending on whether you're an app or game developer:
    • For apps: Describe how your app provides value to users. If you're not sure what we mean by this, visit the Android Developers site to learn more about app quality on Google Play.
    • For games: Describe what makes your game stand out.
  3. Let us know how many installs you expect your app or game to have in its first year. The range options are wide, so choose the option that you think is most likely. It's okay if this is just a rough estimate.
  4. Click Next.
    • Important: If you click Discard or quit without selecting next and finishing your application for production access, your changes won't be saved.
Part 3: Tell us about your production readiness

The information you provide in the "About your production readiness" section helps us to understand whether your app or game is ready for production.

Here's what you need to share to complete this section:

  1. Let us know what changes you made to your app or game based on what you learned during your closed test.
  2. Describe how you decided that your app or game was ready for production.
  3. Click Apply.
    • Important: If you click Discard or quit without applying for production access, your changes won't be saved.

After you apply for access to production

After you've completed your request for access to production, we'll review your submission When the review is complete, we'll email the account owner with an update. This usually takes 7 days or less, but may occasionally take longer.

If your application is successful, you can access Production (Release > Production) and can make your app available to billions of users on Google Play when you think it's ready. You can also use Open testing (Release > Testing > Open testing). We recommend testing your app extensively before publishing it to production, and routinely testing any future updates you make.

Frequently asked questions

What do you mean when you say testers must be opted-in for the last 14 days continuously before I can apply for production?

This means that we won't count testers who opted in, tested for less than 14 days, and then opted out. Even if they opt back in so that they are opted in for a total of 14 days, these 14 days must be consecutive to count towards the criteria of 20 opted-in testers who have tested for 14 consecutive days.

Are there any more best practices for testing that I might find helpful?

Continue to use closed testing while you fix user-reported issues and bugs. Updating your app in closed testing before going to production is a great way to minimize low quality reviews and ratings.

Consider inviting your closed testers to a messaging group, so that the feedback can be seen by others. Your testers may also provide additional feedback and context, which will help you prioritize which aspects of your app or game to improve.

In addition to fixing crashes and bugs, make sure to test the overall user experience of your app. Learn more about app and game quality on Google Play.

Are there any other Play Console features I should learn about to help me succeed on Google Play?

You can learn more about Play Console's features and the latest Play Console news on the Google Play site. You can also take free online training, designed by Google experts, for new and aspiring app developers on Google Play Academy.

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