Set up alpha/beta tests

Using the Google Play Developer Console, you can choose groups of users to beta test different versions of your app.

Testing basics

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.
  • Users need a Google Account (@gmail.com) or a Google Apps account to join a test.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

Tip: 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.

Run a test

Step 1: Choose a testing method

Here are the different types of testing methods you can use in your alpha/beta tests. After you choose a testing method, you'll get a URL link to your alpha/beta app to share with your testers.

Closed beta testing

With closed beta testing, you can create a list of beta testers by email address.

Closed beta testing can be useful for running 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. Users need a Google Account (@gmail.com) or a Google Apps account to join a test.

Start a closed beta test

  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select APK > Beta testing.
  4. If you see Choose a testing method, select the drop-down arrow Drop-down arrow.
  5. Select Set up Closed Beta Testing > Create list.
  6. Type a name to identify your list of testers. You can use the same list for future tests.
  7. Add email addresses separated by commas or click Upload new CSV file. 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.
  8. Click Save.
  9. Check the box next to the list of testers you want to use.
  10. Copy the "Beta opt-in URL" to share with your testers.
  11. 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.
  12. Click Save.

Share your opt-in URL with users

  • 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 testing

With open beta testing, you can choose a maximum number of users to test your beta app without specifying email addresses or creating a Google Group or Google+ Community.

Open beta testing can be useful for running a test with a large group because you can 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, click APK > Beta testing.
  4. If you see Choose a testing method, select the drop-down arrow Drop-down arrow.
  5. Select Set up Open Beta Testing.
  6. 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 "Beta 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

  • 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, click APK > Beta testing.
  4. If you see Choose a testing method, select the drop-down arrow Drop-down arrow.
  5. Select Set up Groups or Community Beta Testing.
  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. Click Add.
  8. Copy the "Beta opt-in URL" to share with your testers.

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.

Step 2: Add an APK to your test
  1. Sign in to your Google Play Developer Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, click APK > Beta Testing or Alpha Testing.
  4. Click Upload.
  5. Select your APK file.
  6. Click Publish.
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 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).

Alpha/Beta version codes

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.

For more information, learn about versioning your apps.

Related content

Learn how to release app updates with staged rollouts.

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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