Use alpha/beta testing & staged rollouts

Using the Google Play Developer Console, you can select groups of users to alpha/beta test different versions of your app and gradually roll out an app update over time, known as a staged rollout.

Set up an alpha/beta test

With the alpha/beta testing tools available in your Developer account, you can test different versions of your app.

  • You don’t need a production APK to publish an alpha/beta app.
  • If you're testing an existing app that you've published before, only users in your test group will receive an update for your Alpha/Beta version. If you're testing a new app that you haven't published before, only users in your test group can find and download your app.
  • After publishing an alpha/beta APK, it may take up to 24 hours for your test link to be available to testers.
  • If you make any changes to your app's Pricing & Distribution page, including setting your app price to Paid or Free, it affects your production, alpha, beta, and any future versions of your app.

Note: When you’re starting a new alpha/beta test, it’s a good idea to start with a small group of alpha testers, then expand your test to a larger beta test group.

Step 1: Add an APK to your alpha/beta test
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Near the middle of the page, click the Alpha Testing or Beta Testing tab.
  6. Click the Upload button.
  7. Select your APK file.
  8. Select the Publish option.
Step 2: Select a test group

If you haven’t already made one, you need to make a Google Group or Google+ Community that includes people you want in your alpha or beta test group. Once you’ve made a Google Group or Google+ Community, you can add it to your list of testers on your Developer Console.

Note: If a user is eligible for both alpha and beta versions, they’ll receive the alpha version.

Here’s how you add your Google Group or Google+ Community to your list of testers and share a link to your app.

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Near the middle of the page, click the Alpha Testing or Beta Testing tab.
  6. Under "Alpha testers" or "Beta testers", click Manage list of testers.
  7. Type the Google Group email address or Google+ Community URL.
    • Note: When you add a test group, make sure to use the following formats:

      Google Groups: yourgroupname@googlegroups.com

      Google+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/123456789012345678901

  8. Click Add.
  9. Copy and share the displayed URL link with your testers.
    • The link uses the following format: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.package.name
    • Note: The opt-in link only shows when an app is "Published." Apps in "Draft" or "Pending publication" won't show the opt-in link.

After clicking the opt-in link, your testers will get an explanation of what it means to be a tester and they’ll be able to opt-in.

Manage testers for Google Play Games Services

If you use Google Play Games Services, alpha and beta tester groups are automatically shared between your APK and Google Play Game Services.

On your Games services Game services Testing page, you can use the alpha and beta testers switch to automatically include any users that are opted-in to alpha and beta testing for your APK.

Also, you can manually add individual testers for Google Play Games Services. Here's how:

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click Games services Game services.
  3. Select a game.
  4. On the left menu, click Testing.
  5. Under "Testing access", click Add testers.
  6. Type the email addresses you’d like to add.
    • Email addresses must be valid Google accounts that use Google+.
  7. Click Add.

Once users have opted-in to your test group, they can sign in using Google+, earn draft or published achievements, and post to draft or published leaderboards.

Step 3: Get feedback

Once your alpha or beta testers have opted-in and installed your app using the link you provided, they’ll be automatically updated to the test version.

Because your testers can't leave public reviews for alpha/beta apps on Google Play, it's a good idea to let them know where they can provide you with feedback (an email address, website, etc.).

Alpha/Beta availability

Alpha and beta APKs need to have a higher version code than production APKs to be available for testing.

  • To be available for alpha testers, alpha APKs need to have a higher version code than beta APKs.
  • If a beta APK is uploaded with a higher version code than an alpha APK, the alpha version will automatically be deactivated.
  • If a Production APK is uploaded with a higher version code than an alpha or beta APK, the alpha and/or beta version will automatically be deactivated.

Alpha testing group users are eligible for the alpha, beta, or production version of your app with the highest version code that is compatible with their device. Beta testing group users are only eligible for the beta or production version of your app with the highest version code that is compatible with their device.

Staged rollouts

You can release an app update to production using a staged rollout, where you release an app update to a percentage of your users and increase the percentage over time.

New and existing users are eligible for to receive updates from staged rollouts. Staged rollouts can only be used for app updates, not when publishing an app for the first time.

When you increase the percentage of a staged rollout, your original group of users who are eligible to receive the APK is always included. If you upload a new APK to an existing staged rollout, your original group stays the same. When you create a brand new staged rollout, your staged rollout starts with a new user group.

During a staged rollout, it's a good idea to closely monitor crash reports and user feedback. Users receiving the staged rollout can leave public reviews on Google Play.

Note: While a staged rollout is in progress, you won't be able to update your production configuration. Before you can update your production configuration, you need to publish the staged rollout to 100% of users.

Set up a staged rollout of an APK you have in alpha or beta testing
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Near the middle of the page, click the Alpha Testing or Beta Testing tab.
  6. Promote your APK to Production.
    • If needed, deactivate your previous production APK.
  7. On the Production tab, next to "APK" and the Publish Now button, click the Down Down arrow.
  8. Select Publish as staged rollout.
  9. Select a percentage.
  10. Click Save and publish.
Set up a staged rollout on production (without an alpha or beta test)
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Click the Production tab.
  6. Select Upload new APK to production.
  7. Next to Save Draft, Click the Down Down arrow.
  8. Select Publish as staged rollout.
  9. Select a percentage.
  10. Click Save and publish.
Increase your staged rollout percentage
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Click the Production tab.
  6. Near the middle of the page, under "Staged Rollout" click Increase percentage.
  7. Select a percentage.
  8. Click Save and publish.

Update an app during a staged rollout

If a staged rollout is in progress and you discover an issue with your app (e.g. crashes, bugs), you can publish an update to the staged rollout version using your Google Play Developer Console.

Using Simple mode
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Click All applications All applications.
  3. Select an app.
  4. On the left menu, click APK.
  5. Select Upload new APK to production.
  6. Next to Save Draft, Click the Down Down arrow.
  7. Select Publish as staged rollout.
  8. Select a percentage.
    • To replace your previous staged rollout version, select the same percentage as your previous version. Compared to your previous staged rollout version, you can select the same rollout percentage or higher.
  9. Click Save and publish.
Using Advanced mode

Note: If you're using Advanced mode to manage multiple APK files, your updated APK configuration must be the same as the APK configuration in the current staged rollout.

  1. Develop and test a new APK.
  2. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  3. Click All applications All applications.
  4. Select an app.
  5. On the left menu, click APK.
  6. Select Upload new APK to production.
  7. Upload your new file(s) and save as draft(s).
  8. Next to your current version(s), under "Actions", click Deactivate.

After you publish the replacement APK, affected users that received your previous update through the staged rollout will receive an update.

Note: When you upload a replacement APK, you will need to deactivate the APK you're replacing.