Beta Testing iPhone Apps

On Tuesday night, I presented to the Baltimore Mobile Developers group a talk discussing tips for beta testing your iphone apps. I’ve included the presentation in this post but I thought I would highlight some of the key points as well in a post.

Getting a UDID
First a tip about getting an end user’s UDID so that you can add it to your provisioning profile. There is an app in the store called “Ad Hoc Helper“, end users can install this app (it’s free) and when they launch it, it will prompt them where to email the UDID. They just have to put in your address and voila! Much easier than using the super secret button in iTunes (click “serial number” on the Summary page).

Device Limits
A warning about adding devices to your provisioning portal, you can only add 100 devices per year. Take note, even if you delete devices, they still count towards your 100 limit. So pick your testers carefully.

Beta App Distribution
One of the best ways to distribute apps to users is using a project called Hockey. Hockey allows you to distribute apps to your end users by having them visit a web page in mobile safari and then they can download and install the app on their phone. It consist of a server component that requires a PHP5 web server (no database required though) and an optional client framework that can be installed in your apps. The nice thing about implementing the client framework is that it can automatically check for updates on the webserver when your app launches and prompt the user to download the new version.

Finding Testers
One of the resources that I have used to find testers has been iBetaTest.com. Some tips about using this site:

  • Betas of 10-15 users
  • Try to reuse testers or invite testers with high ratings
  • a $10 iTunes gift card and free version of app is good compensation for testers, require feedback and help marketing (iTunes review, tweet, facebook post, etc) to receive the gift card.
  • Even with compensation, only expect to receive feedback from 30% of your test group.

Final Notes
With such small testing capabilities (100 users max/year), your results will vary depending on how well your testers represent your end user. Choose wisely.

2 Responses to “Beta Testing iPhone Apps”

  1. Pamela
    May 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    May25th, 2011

    Thank you for the article.

    Since you are discussing beta testing I thought I’d share the work of Justin Cunningham which is open source on the MIT licence. I do not know him other than discovering his project on Kickstarter.

    Justin calls his program “Easy iPhone and iPad App Distribution”.

    This great system on Kickstarter has only 9 days left to go. I think that it has a lot of potential beyond what is stated.

    I really hope that iPhone developers support it since it could be used for testing and much more.

    You can find it here: kickstarter.com/projects/154517594/easy-iphone-and-ipad-app-distribution-quickstart-a

    Here’s what Justin Cunningham said about his project (open source software) “… for people that want to create internal websites that host iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad applications that are not distributed through the iTunes app store, either for beta testing or internal distribution.

    At present, it takes dozens of steps to make an App portal, which can take days for an experienced iPhone developer. In order to add a new device that can run apps downloaded from the portal, there are far too many manual steps, this will be replaced with a single command.

    When you follow the quick-start or the screen cast, you’ll be able to configure your system so that when you need to add a new device, you can update your provisioning profile in the dev center, fetch the new profile, recompile all your apps, and redeploy with a single command.”

  2. Elvis Johansson
    January 7, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    Great post. Finding good testers is difficult. I have tested both Hockeyapp and iBetatest, but the one that really does the trick for me is The Beta Family. I use it for both iOS and Android apps.

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