Alpha testing and Beta testing: last but not the least

5 min read

In a perfect world, ideal developers write perfect code and upload their equally ideal applications to application stores on the first try. At the same time, their application is initially “doomed to success.”

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, where one cannot be completely sure of any idea, and at the same time create an application without a single mistake. We have to deal with quality control and the organization of focus groups, while protecting our intellectual property from competitors.

And if everything is more or less clear with the process of holding a focus group, there might be problems with its organization. Today we will talk about such a useful feature of Google Play as the ability to organize alpha and beta testing when developing your native Android application.

In 2013, Google provided developers with the opportunity to beta test their applications. Before that, teams had to use different, not always convenient ways to distribute their applications to the testing team or focus group - uploading their .apk to third-party hosting, using external utilities, or even trying to create their own analogue of Google Play.

Such methods make it difficult to get feedback from the audience, because in order to start testing, the user had to do quite a lot of side manipulations.

Types of testing Android applications

So, Google offers developers three options for testing their Android applications:

Alpha testing. This option should be used in the early stages of development, when the mobile application is still far away from its release and from the state in which the end user should see it.

Alpha testing is usually conducted solely by the internal forces of the team, i.e. normal users and product owner are not involved in testing. It is used to early check the viability of the project idea, as well as tracking the most critical errors in the code of the mobile application.

Beta testing. At this stage, the focus group is expanding. This may be a client, shareholders of the company, or specially invited loyal users.

This method of testing is also divided into open and closed beta test. Closed beta test involves sending invitations to test participants by e-mail, or creating a group on Google+. Thus, it is much easier to control the circle of persons to whom the current build of the application is available.

Open beta test does not require invitations sending by e-mail or organizing groups in social networks, and allows you to reach a much wider audience. This type of testing can be used, for example, to obtain more feedback, or to study the load on the server, if the application is focused on working online.

Despite the fact that this option is called “open”, the team still has the ability to limit the maximum number of users that can install an application. Open beta test should be carried out directly on the target (but still loyal) audience in order to obtain honest feedback.
Thus, the team has the ability to correct the objective shortcomings of the application before full launch.

Testing groups’ management

All three testing options are available to the development team in the Google Play Developer Console. At any stage of the development of a mobile application, you can go from one stage of testing to another if you need to expand or reduce the size of the focus group.

Also, when conducting alpha and beta testing, one should not forget about the correct numbering of the Android application versions. If the working version number of the application is higher than that of alpha and beta versions, then testers will have access only to this version.

In addition to the types of testing itself, Google also allows you to assign a type of testing user. So, alpha testers will have access to all versions of the application, while beta testers will have access only to working and beta versions.

Despite the fact that the opportunities provided by Google are purely optional, you should not neglect them when developing an Android application - QA and holding focus groups can be an essential item of expenditure when developing complex projects. A convenient way to deliver an application to a testing team is able to reduce some of these costs, since it simply takes less time.
Regardless of whether you are a client or a developer, the question of testing an application should be given special attention in any type of project.

Even the most brilliant ideas can be ruined by their poor implementation, and at the same time, a bad idea will remain bad regardless of the amount of resources spent on it. And in any case, the problem is better to know before the final release.Vv

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