company development infinaut tips

Better Beta Testing with TestFlight

For our last project (Supernova Jones), we were learning alot of things as we went along. While having specific experience in our particular skillsets, there were alot of gaps where none of us had any experience, and we sort of had to wing it. One of those gaps was around beta testing.

Our “beta testing” consisted of:
– Will or myself building a distribution build of the app
– Putting the zip on an FTP site, which Tronnie would download and install.
– An email rapidly fired off to a few family members and friends asking if they’d be interested. If so, they’d get FTP info.

Outside of the three of us, I’m not sure we got any feedback from our testers. Only a few people were interested, and I’m not sure they ever actually took the time to download the file from the FTP site. I think the fault for this lies on our shoulders – we had no follow up, no tracking, and the process of getting the app on their devices was too onerous.

There are a few “todos” for us here, but one I wanted to mention today is the distribution mechanism. We’re kicking the tires on a new tool, and so far are loving it. The app and site are called Test Flight, and they offer “iOS beta testing on the fly”.

This thing is great. After a short and simple installation process, the various beta builds of an app can be uploaded to Test Flight, and then distributed to registered devices. Some of the highlights for me are (so far):

  • Being able to track devices and iOS versions of all your test users.
  • Knowing how many users have installed a version of a build, and how many have not.
  • The promise (“coming soon”) of an SDK. The SDK can be used for things like logging events within your app. Like, you could see whether people are finding and using an options screen. How long users are using the app. Etc.

The first night of use we’re already on beta build #0004. It’s just too easy to post (and consume) new builds. I’m looking forward to using this tool closer to completion, when we open the app up to more beta testers. Seems like it will be a great tool to harness beta tester usage.

On a side note, I had to copy a password from my computer to my iPod, and just wanted to use copy and paste. Pastebot is a nice little app that allows you to copy back and forth between the two. Also offers a nice ability to organize items & save items for copying and pasting later.