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A brief history of iOS beta testing

Posted by Larry Salibra on · Comments

Apple’s App Store revolutionized the way consumers and companies purchase software. Unlike platforms before it, all iOS software is sold in one place, under one roof. Apple’s review and approval process for the App Store gives customers piece of mind that the apps they’re downloading meet some minimum level of security and quality.

The App Store also turned the traditional beta testing process on its head by putting roadblocks between a company and its testers. Companies developing iOS apps were not able simply send out beta builds for testing by posting on their website or shooting out an email with an attachment as they do for other platforms.

The traditional beta testing process looks like this:

  1. Find beta testers
  2. Send beta build to beta testers
  3. Remind, harass, beg or pay beta testers to test & report bugs found

The iOS beta testing process looked like this:

  1. Find beta testers
  2. Get beta testers’ device ids
  3. Add device ids to your iOS developer account
  4. Create beta build with tester device ids
  5. Send beta build to beta testers
  6. Explain how testers can install on their devices
  7. Remind, harass, beg or pay beta testers to test & report bugs found

A company called TestFlight created a beta distribution platform that solved steps 2, 5 and 6. Developers fell in love with TestFlight and Apple acquired TestFlight and integrated it into iTunes Connect solving steps 3 and 4.

Apple and TestFlight solved the how part of distributing beta iOS apps to testers. They didn’t solve the problem of where to get testers that will actually test and tell you about bugs.

Most companies use some combination of the following:

  • Internal manual testing: Developers spend hours testing their own work. Developer time is expensive and biases make testing your own work inefficient. Larger companies employ full time QA engineers that get paid whether or not they find bugs.

  • Customer beta programs: This can be great if you have a customer base willing and able to spend their own time finding your product’s problems. More often than not, customers sign up for beta programs simply to check out the latest and greatest and never take the time to send in actionable bug reports. This is especially difficult for business critical B2B products.

  • Friends, family & colleagues: Recruiting your friends, family and colleagues to help test. This is done out of the perception that the cost is free. In reality, there’s a huge time cost to this method and results are poor as people tend to say “Yes, I’ll test” to avoid social confrontation and then simply fail to test.

Please test my app!

People that fail to test not only cost you time and money, but valuable slots in Apple’s limited-space TestFlight beta service.

Pay4Bugs solves this problem. We have thousands of testers ready to help you test now. They're not doing because you begged them to, they're in it for the money. They only make money if they find and report problems to you. And with our integration with Apple TestFlight you can build a testing team for your pre-release iOS app before Apple even approves your beta build. Give it a try