'I Ain't a Tester. How Do I Beta Test My iOS App?' 10 Q&A

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Beta testing. Do you really need it? Where should you start and how to recruit the right people for it? These are the questions no-tester app developers and publishers have when they come up with the idea of beta testing their products.

To help such “no testers” do smooth beta testing, we’ve answered the 10 major questions that will drive you along the way.

  1. Do I Really Need Beta Testing?

In case of developing a simple app or being in a hurry to get it out quickly, beta testing is not for you because hosting your beta test will take much time and energy as well as delays your business.

On the other hand, you may need beta testing if:

  • There are many features in your app which means there’s also more chances to find bugs.
  • Your app is to be high quality. To make a really high quality app, you may need beta testers who will effectively request features you haven’t thought of and implement some before the launch.
  • It’s going to be a game. Games are a must to be beta tested as it’s essential to properly balance fun and difficulty by involving third party help which you could not do alone otherwise.
  1. Where Should I Look for Beta Testers?

To access a few testers, the best way is to write a post about your matter on forums often visited by app fans. For options, consider MacRumors or reddit.com. Twitter is also a good source for you as there you can find many great iPhone developers ready to help their fellows and provide a significant developer perspective. Finally, you can always refer to your family and friends’ help which is especially valuable since you can see testers using your app personally.

  1. Do I Need a Signup Form for Beta Testers?

In case you need just a couple of people to do beta testing for you, a signup form for them may be overkill, but, on the other hand, you may want to use a number of advantages a beta signup form has. They are: easier execution of multiple rounds of tests, ability to ask beta testers questions, keeping your data organized, and option for beta testers to be notified about the app’s launch.

  1. What Should I Do with Beta Testers?

After you’ve got some volunteers, before doing anything ask them for their UDID (device’s unique id) so that you can create a copy specially for their device. They can send UDIDs using the app called “UDID Tool” available on the App store for free, or from iTunes.

  1. How Should I Send the Testers My Ad-Hoc Build?

Creating an ad-hoc build isn’t so difficult as you may think it is. It’s done in 7 simple steps:

  1. Go to the iPhone Dev Center, log on to its iPhone Provisioning Portal.
  2. Set up your app and create an App ID.
  3. In the Devices tab, enter each UDID you received from the beta testers.
  4. In the Provisioning tab, create a profile. Next, select your App ID as well as all devices you want it to run on.
  5. In the Distribution tab, follow the “Building Application with Xcode” instructions to set up your project, use your new profile and make a build.
  6. Build your project with the new Ad-Hoc configuration, then locate the .app file which has been created. To package it for your beta testers, make a “Payload” folder, copy your app in there, zip it up, and rename it using an .ipa extension.
  7. Zip up both the .mobileprovision and the .ipa so that the beta testers get a single file.
  1. How Should the Testers Install My App?

Along with the .mobileprovision and the .zip, you should also send your beta testers the following instructions on your app’s installation:

  1. Download the zip file.
  2. Unzip it. Inside you’ll find two files: “.mobileprovision” and “.ipa”.
  3. Drag-and-drop both to Applications of iTunes library.
  4. When in iTunes, choose your device and then the tab “Applications”. Sync applications remembering to check the new app.
  5. Sync the device and launch the app.
  1. How Should I Manage Feedback?

While sending the testers your app zip and the above instructions, it’s also time to explain them what kind of feedback you expect from them. Thus, you may point out some areas you’re most interested in testing, some things you feel uncertain about and are expecting feedback on, or you can just as well give them a list of questions for them to answer. What’s important is to keep your questions to the minimum so that to encourage the testers’ free-flow inputs and responses which are probably the most valuable feedback you can get.

  1. What Will I Do With Feedback?

Provided everything has gone OK, you should expect several emails from your testers sent to you at this point, with some amount of feedback. There you’ll find some positive encouragement, bugs they found on the way, and lots of ideas for improvements and new features. These latter are very valuable, so it’s better to keep track of such suggestions. Later you should run over these ideas and try to implement as many of them as the time allows before launch. Prioritize tester ideas by choosing ones requested by a number of people, especially great to include, or simply the easiest to implement, to decide which of them your app needs. It will be a good thing to let your testers know their idea has been implemented.

  1. How Many Responses Can I Expect?

This question can’t be be answered for sure as the number of received responses will vary greatly based on what kind of app you have and a number of people you invite. So, the best thing is to expect feedback from not more people than half the number of invites you sent.

  1. Will I Succeed?

Performing a beta test proves to be a whole lot of work, but once you put in practice all the best practices and the tips given above, you are going to get a fairly polished app after taking up a few suggestions from your beta testers.

With this detailed guide, chances are you will certainly succeed!