Beta-testing and staged rollouts

To make a great app, it’s important to get feedback from users early and often. Google Play Developer Console lets you test your app with groups of users through alpha- and beta-testing and staged rollouts feature.

Alpha- and beta-testing

If you are planning to go alpha- and beta-testing route, it’s best to start with a small group of alpha testers (perhaps employees of your company, or a few fellow developers) and then move on to a larger group of beta testers.

Through alpha- and beta-testing functionality, Google Play Developer Console lets you test two different versions of your app at the same time in addition to your production version. Here’s how:

  1. Select an APK for your alpha or beta test.
  2. Select the group of users for each test.
  3. Publish your alpha- or beta-test APK.
  4. Ask your testers to opt in.
  • Alpha- or beta-test apps will only appear in Google Play for testers that opt-in and not to any other users.
  • A production APK is not required to publish an alpha- or beta-test app.
  • It may take up to 24 hours after publishing for the test link to become active.

Selecting groups of testers

Google Play Developer Console lets you select your groups of testers either through creating a Google Group or Google+ Community. Add a Google+ Community URL or a Google Groups email address to the Developer Console to select your test group. The Developer Console will give you a URL that you need to give to the users. They’ll need to go to the URL, which will explain what it means to be a tester and they can opt in.

Please keep in mind that if a user is eligible for both alpha and beta versions, they’ll receive the alpha version.

Managing testers for Google Play Game Services

Alpha and Beta tester groups are automatically shared between your APK and Game Services. Toggle the Alpha and Beta testers switch from the Testing page of your Game to automatically include any users that are opted-in to alpha and beta testing for your APK. You can also manually add testers by clicking Add testers and entering the users' email address.

Users that are opted-in to these groups will have access to sign in using Google+, earn draft or published achievements, and post to draft or published leaderboards.

Removing testers

Testers can voluntarily opt-out of testing at any time by leaving the Google Group or Google+ Community. An administrator can also manually remove testers from the Google Group or the Google+ Community. Once a tester has been removed, it may take up to 48 hours for the tester to no longer receive alpha or beta version updates.

Testers must manually uninstall your app to return to the Production version; opted-out testers are not automatically downgraded to Production.

Installing the app and providing feedback

Users will also need to install the app from Google Play, if they haven’t done so already. Once they install the app and opt in, they'll automatically be updated to the new test version.

You will need to specify the feedback channel for your tester group, since they won’t be able to leave you public reviews in Google Play. You can provide them with an email address or a website where they should send feedback.

Staged rollouts

You can release your app via a staged rollout, starting with a small percentage of your userbase and then increasing it.

Set and modify the percentage for the staged rollout on the APK section of your Google Play Developer Console, on the Production tab. Keep an eye on crash reports and user reviews, to make sure users like new functionality in your app.

While a staged rollout is in progress, you won't be able to update your production configuration. You must publish the staged rollout to 100% of users first.

Users receiving the staged rollout can leave public reviews in Google Play.

Please note though that staged rollout functionality is only available for app updates, not the initial publishing of the application.

Managing app issues during a staged rollout

If a staged rollout is in progress and you discover an issue with your app (e.g. crashing, bugs), you can easily push an update to affected users.

  1. Develop and test a new APK
  2. On the Production tab of your app, click Upload new APK to Production
  3. If you're using Advanced Mode to manage multiple APKs, the updated APK must be the same configuration as the APK in the current staged rollout. Once you upload your replacement APK, you will be prompted to deactivate the APK you've replaced.
  4. Click Publish to Production

Once you've published the replacement APK, the affected users that received your previous update through the staged rollout will receive an update, and your staged rollout can proceed with the new version.