Set up an open, closed, or internal test

Using the Play Console, you can test your app with specific groups or open your test to Google Play users.

Before you start

  • Email requirements: Users need a Google Account (@gmail.com) or a G Suite account to join a test.
  • Pricing & distribution changes: If you make any changes to your app's Pricing & distribution page, it affects your app's current and future versions across all tracks.
    • Note about internal tests: There are some country distribution and payment exceptions for internal tests. For details, go to the section on setting up an internal test.

  • Release
    • We recommend testing your app before you release to production.
    • After publishing an open, closed, or internal test for the first time, it may take a few hours for your test link to be available to testers. If you publish additional changes, they may take several hours to be available for testers.
  • Add organizations to a test
    • To add testers associated with an organization that uses managed Google Play, go to your app's Pricing & distribution page and check the box next to "Turn on advanced managed Google Play features."
    • If your app is private, you also need to add the organization associated with your test to your targeted list.
  • Reviews: Testers can't submit public reviews.

What's the difference between open, closed, and internal test?

Internal test: Quickly distribute your app for internal testing and quality assurance checks. 

Closed: Create a closed release to test pre-release versions of your app with a larger set of testers. Once you've tested with a smaller group of employees or trusted users, you can expand your test to an open release. On your App releases page, an Alpha track will be available as your initial closed test. If needed, you can also create and name additional closed tracks.

If you're testing an existing app that you've published before, only users in your test group will receive an update for your closed version.

Open: Create an open release to run a test with a large group and 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. Make sure your app is ready to be visible on Google Play before choosing this option.

Note: You can no longer create open alpha or closed beta tests. You'll retain access to any existing open alpha or closed beta tests that are already in progress. 

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Tips

How do I start?

We recommend starting with an internal test, then expanding to a small group of closed testers.

When should I use an internal test?

When you create an internal test, you release your app immediately to your internal testers. This can help you identify issues and receive feedback earlier in your development process. An internal test is:

  • Fast: You can distribute apps via the internal test track much faster than the open or closed tracks. When you publish a new APK or app bundle to the internal test track, it will be available to testers within a few minutes.
    • Note: If you're publishing an app for the first time, it may take up to 48 hours for your app's internal test to be available.

  • Flexible: An internal test can be adjusted to support different testing stages, including internal testing, quality assurance checks, and post-launch debugging.
  • Safe: With the internal test track, your test app is distributed to users via the Play Store.
Can I run multiple tests per app at the same time?

If you want to run multiple tests on the same app, keep the following in mind:

  • At any time, you can run multiple closed tests and one open test.
  • If a user opts in to your app's internal test, they're no longer eligible to receive the open or closed test. To regain access to the open or closed test, the user must opt out of the internal test and back in to the open or closed test.

Step 1: Set up test details

Choose a testing method

Internal test: manage up to 100 testers

You can create a list of internal testers by email address. An internal test can have up to 100 testers per app.

When setting up an internal test, keep the following in mind:

  • Country distribution: You can add users from any location to your internal test. If an internal tester is located in a country where your app's production, open, or closed version isn't available, the user will still receive the internal test.
  • Payment: For paid apps, testers can install your internal test version for free. Testers need to pay for in-app purchases, unless they're also added to a license testers list.
  • Device exclusion rules: Device exclusion rules don't apply to internal testers.
  • Policy and security reviews: Internal tests may not be subject to the usual Play policy or security reviews.

Start an internal test

 Create testers list

If you've already created your testers list, skip to the "add testers" instructions.

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. On the left menu, select Settings Settings gear > Manage testers > Create list.
  3. Type a name to identify your list of testers.
  4. Add email addresses separated by commas or click Upload CSV. If you use a .CSV file, put each email address on its own line without any commas. If you upload a .CSV file, it will overwrite any email addresses you've added.
  5. Select Create list.

Add testers

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the internal test track, select Manage internal test.
  5. Expand the "Manage testers" section. If the "Manage testers" section is empty, make sure you've uploaded an APK or app bundle to the internal test track.
  6. Next to "Choose a testing method," select Internal test.
  7. In the "Users" section, check the box next to list you want to use.
  8. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  9. Next to "Feedback channel," add an email address or URL to collect feedback from testers. Your app's feedback channel will be shown to users on your tester opt-in page.
  10. Select Save.
Closed test: manage testers by email address

With a closed test, you can create a list of testers by email address. You can create a total of 200 lists, and each list can have up to 2,000 users. You can create up to 50 lists per track.

Start a closed test

Create testers list

If you've already created your testers list, skip to the "add testers" instructions.

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. On the left menu, select Settings Settings > Manage testers > Create list.
  3. Type a name to identify your list of testers. You can use the same list for future tests on any of your apps.
  4. Add email addresses separated by commas or click Upload CSV. If you use a .CSV file, put each email address on its own line without any commas. If you upload a .CSV file, it will overwrite any email addresses you've added.
  5. Select Create list.

Add testers

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the closed track, select Manage.
  5. Expand the "Manage testers" section. If the "Manage testers" section is empty, make sure you've uploaded an APK or app bundle.
  6. Next to "Choose a testing method," select Closed Testing.
  7. In the "Users" section, check the box next to list you want to use.
  8. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  9. Next to "Feedback channel," add an email address or URL to collect feedback from testers. Your app's feedback channel will be shown to users on your tester opt-in page.
  10. If you're setting up a test within an organization, enter an organization ID and name in the "Organizations" section.
  11. Select Save.
Closed test: manage testers with Google Groups or Google+ Communities
  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the closed track, select Manage.
  5. Expand the "Manage testers" section. If the "Manage testers" section is empty, make sure you've uploaded an APK or app bundle.
  6. Next to "Test method," select Alpha Testing using Google Groups or Google+ Communities.
  7. Type the Google Group email address or Google+ Community URL in one of the following formats:
    • Google Groups: yourgroupname@googlegroups.com
    • Google+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/123456789012345678901
  8. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  9. If you're setting up a test within an organization, enter an organization ID and name in the "Organizations" section.
  10. Select Save.

Note: For more information on how to manage Google Groups, go to the G Suite Administrator Help Center.

Open test: surface your test app on Google Play

If you set up an open test, users can find your test app on Google Play. Make sure your app is ready to be visible on Google Play before choosing this option.

  • For early access apps (new apps that haven't been published to production): Users can find your open test via search on Google Play. Once users find your listing, they can install your app normally.
  • For apps with a live production version: Users can opt in to your open test from your store listing.

You can also share a URL link on a website or email. Every user with the link can access the open test.

Start an open test

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the open track, select Manage.
  5. Expand the "Manage testers" section. If the "Manage testers" section is empty, make sure you've uploaded an APK or app bundle.
  6. Next to "Choose a testing method," select Open Beta Testing.
  7. Optional: Type the maximum number of users you want to test your app (must be at least 1,000). If unspecified, no maximum number will be used.
  8. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  9. Next to "Feedback channel," add an email address or URL to collect feedback from testers. Your app's feedback channel will be shown to users on your tester opt-in page.
  10. Select Save.
Create additional closed test tracks for your development teams

In some cases, you may need additional closed test tracks. For example, you might have different development teams that need to address bugs across different features. If each team creates their own testing track, features can be worked on at the same time.

With additional test tracks, you can create a list of testers by email address or manage testers by Google Groups or Google+ Communities. There are no size limits to these groups. 

Create an additional test track

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the closed track, select Create closed track.
  5. Add a track title. The track title is used in the Play Console and Google Play Developer API as the track name.
  6. Select Create track.
  7. Select whether you want to manage testers by email address, Google Groups, or Google+ Communities.
  8. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  9. Next to "Feedback channel," add an email address or URL to collect feedback from testers. Your app's feedback channel will be shown to users on your tester opt-in page.
  10. Select Save.

Testing tips & support

When you create additional closed tracks, the following features aren't supported:

Manage testers for Google Play games services

If you use Google Play games services, tester groups are automatically shared between your APK or app bundle and Google Play games services.

On your Game services > Testing page, you can use the testers switch to automatically include any users that are opted in to testing for your APK or app bundle.

To manually add individual testers for Google Play games services:

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Click Game services Games services.
  3. Select a game.
  4. On the left menu, click Testing > Add testers.
  5. Type the email addresses you'd like to add. Email addresses must be valid Google accounts that use Google+.
  6. Select 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 2: Create a release

Once you've set up the details of your app's test, you can create and rollout a release using these instructions.

For details on managing country availability across your app's Alpha and Beta tracks, go to distribute app releases to specific countries

Step 3: Share your opt-in URL with users

After you create a test, you'll get a URL link to your app to share with your testers.
  • 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 a link to opt in. Each tester needs to opt in using the link.
  • If you're running a closed test with a Google Group or Google+ Community, users need to join the group or community before opting in to your test. 

Step 4: Get feedback

Once your testers have installed your app, they'll automatically be updated to use the test version within a few minutes.

Because your testers can't leave public reviews on Google Play, it's a good idea to include a feedback channel or let your users know how they can provide you with feedback (by email, website, or a message forum).

If you're running an open test, your testers can also provide you with private feedback through Google Play.

Step 5: End a test

To remove users from your app's test: 

  1. Sign in to your Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release management > App releases.
  4. Next to the test that you want to end, select Manage.
  5. Expand the "Manage testers" card.
  6. After ending a test, testers won't receive updates but the app will remain installed on their device.
    • To remove a closed test track that you created, select Deactivate track. You can access deactivated tracks on the App releases page in the "Closed tracks" section.  
    • To end an open, closed alpha, or internal test, select Remove testers

Version codes & testing track statuses

Version code requirements

Alpha testing group users are eligible for the alpha or production version of your app with the highest version code that's compatible with their device. For alpha testing group users to be eligible for the beta version of your app:

  • The beta version must have a higher version code than the alpha version, and
  • Alpha users must be explicitly listed as beta testers (or the test must be an open beta)

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

This means your alpha APKs should have the highest version codes, followed by beta, and finally production.

  • If a beta APK is uploaded with a higher version code than an alpha APK, alpha users who can install both will install the beta APK instead of the alpha APK.
  • If a production APK is uploaded with a higher version code than an alpha or beta APK, some or all of your alpha and beta users will install the production APK, instead of APKs of the testing tracks. 

Internal testers are eligible for the internal test or production version of your app only (with the highest version code that's compatible with their device).

For more information, learn about versioning your apps.

Testing track statuses

When you're rolling out your release, you may see validation messages that note when users of a given track receive APKs or app bundles that were released to another track—known as the track's fallback status. 

For example, the Alpha track will fallback to Beta and the Beta track will fallback to production.

Fallback terms & statuses

  • Shadowed: One APK shadows another APK when it serves part or all of the same device configuration and it has a higher version code.
  • Promoted: All of the track's active APKs are contained in the fallback track's active APKs (for example, all of the active beta APKs are also active in production). You may see this if you release first to a testing track and then release the tested APKs to a more stable release.
  • Superseded: All of the active APKs in a track are completely shadowed by active APKs with higher version codes in its fallback track. None of the APKs in the track are being served to users, as they all will get an APK from the fallback track. This means the testing program represented by the superseded track was abandoned.
  • Partially shadowed: At least one of the active APKs in a track is shadowed by an APK with higher version code in its fallback track. This means that some of the beta users will get an APK from the beta track, while others may get an APK from production. This is most likely an error in assigning version codes.

Related content

Author

Shana is a Google Play Console expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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