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Set up alpha/beta tests

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

Before you start

  • Email requirements: Users need a Google Account (@gmail.com) or a Google Apps 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 production, alpha, and beta versions.
  • Release
    • We recommend publishing an alpha/beta app before you release your app to production.
    • After publishing an alpha/beta app 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.

Tips

How do I start?

We recommend starting with a small group of alpha testers, then expanding your test to a larger beta test group.

Should I use closed or open beta testing?

Closed beta: Consider closed beta testing if you want to run a test with a smaller group (like within your company or team) or when you know the exact users you want to test your 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.

Open beta: Consider open beta testing if you want to run a test with a large group and surface your app's beta version on the Play Store. If you run an open beta test, anyone can join your beta program and submit private feedback to you. Make sure your app is ready for visibility on the Play Store before choosing this option.

Keep in mind, open and closed beta testers can't submit public reviews.

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:

  • We recommend you set up one test as a closed alpha and another as an open beta. This works because you can run one test at a time per testing method (e.g. open & closed).
  • If you run an open alpha test, you can't use the open or closed beta track. This happens because you can't run two open tests simultaneously or run a closed beta given version code requirements.

Run a beta test

Choose a testing method

Closed beta: manage testers by email address

With closed beta testing, you can create a list of beta testers by email address. You can create up to 50 lists per track with up to 2,000 users in each.

Start a closed beta test

 Create testers list 

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

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. On the left menu, select Settings Settings > Testers lists > 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. Click Create list.

Add testers list

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Manage Releases.
  4. Next to the alpha or beta track, select Manage.
  5. Next to "Test method," select Closed testers list beta.
  6. Next to "Testers list," select the name of your list.
  7. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  8. 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.
  9. Click Save.

Share your opt-in URL with users

After you create a test, you'll get a URL link to your alpha/beta app to share with your testers.

  • The link uses the following format: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.package.name
  • 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 to be part of the beta test.
Open beta: surface your beta app on the Play Store

If you set up an open beta test, users can find your beta app on the Play Store. Make sure your app is ready for visibility on the Play Store before choosing this option.

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

You can also share a URL link on a website or email and every user with the link can download the beta version of your app.

Start an open beta test

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Manage Releases.
  4. Next to the alpha or beta track, select Manage.
  5. Next to "Test method," select Open beta.
  6. 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.
  7. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  8. 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.
  9. Click Save.

Share your opt-in URL with users

After you create a test, you'll also get a URL link to your alpha/beta app to share with testers.

  • The link uses the following format: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.package.name
  • 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 to be part of the beta test.
Closed beta testing using Google Groups or Google+ communities
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Manage Releases.
  4. Next to the alpha or beta track, select Manage.
  5. Next to "Test method," select Group or community beta.
  6. 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
  7. Copy the "Opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  8. 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.
  9. Click Save.

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

Share your opt-in URL with users

  • Before your testers can opt-in to your beta test, they need to join the Google Group or Google+ Community that you've added. After they've joined the Group or Community, they also need to opt-in to your beta test.
  • The link uses the following format: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.package.name
  • 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 to be part of the beta test.
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 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.

To manually add individual testers for Google Play Games Services:

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer 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. 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.

Get feedback

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

Because your testers can't leave public reviews for alpha/beta apps 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 (e.g. by email, website, or a message forum).

If you're running an open test (alpha or beta), your testers can also provide you with private feedback through the Play Store.

Version codes & testing track statuses

Version code requirements

Alpha testing group users are eligible for the alpha, beta, or production version of your app (with the highest version code that's 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'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. 

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 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.

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Author

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

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