TestFlight Makes Beta-Testing Much Friendlier
TestFlight changes the way developers and testers handle ad hoc copies of applications – private alpha or beta releases that are unfinished and thus unsuitable for public release. With TestFlight, the process of installing ad hoc copies becomes significantly easier.
Every iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad has its own unique device identification number, better known by the abbreviation UDID. Without TestFlight, developers need to add manually acquire every tester’s UDID number and add it into their developer account, then distribute the application via email or download so that testers can install the ad hoc copy through iTunes. The process, for both developers and testers, is time consuming and prone to error.
With TestFlight, developers upload a build of their application and are then given a private web link that, whenever a tester taps on it on their iOS device, automatically installs the application. The process of UDID gathering is handled through TestFlight and the Apple Developer Portal, as explained by Josh Kerr, co-founder of Zosh. A tester enters in their UDID information into TestFlight, then the developer can just copy and paste UDIDs straight into the Apple Dev Portal. Once the necessary certificate has been installed and a new build created, TestFlight automatically notifies all relevant testers that a new build is ready. No uninstalling of the application occurs, as it does through Apple’s official system. Having worked with beta releases through the old-fashioned Apple way and through TestFlight’s new alternative, the process is suddenly so much simpler. No iTunes. No syncing. Just a single webpage.
To understand just how useful TestFlight is, I turn my attention to Neven Mrgan, co-creator of The Incident. His story reveals how “I flew to WWDC just as The Incident was shaping up into a fully playable game … but the timing ended up being slightly wonky: there was a serious bug in the last version I had.” Under normal circumstances, people in this situation would have been forced to update the application through their own personal computer to which their device was authorized. Not ideal. And that’s where TestFlight comes in. With one tap to a unique link and another to download straight to your iDevice, the latest build downloads and installs automatically.
Apple rejected TestFlight as an application, presumably due to its circumventing nature of the normal beta process, but that has not stopped the developers 23 Divide from implementing it entirely through Safari. Nonetheless, TestFlight moves the barrier forward when it comes to ad hoc testing. Having used the service personally, I’m certainly appreciative.