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:
- Select an APK for your alpha or beta test.
- Select the group of users for each test.
- Publish your alpha- or beta-test APK.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Develop and test a new APK
- On the Production tab of your app, click Upload new APK to Production
- 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.