Apple Buys Burstly – Alternatives to TestFlight for Mobile Apps
Last Friday, Apple acquired Burstly, the owner of mobile app testing platform, TestFlight. While the details of the acquisition are not yet clear, we know that TestFlight will be ending Android support in March and will no longer be providing the SDK to new customers.
Apple’s lack of distribution and beta testing support for iOS apps is well-known and this acquisition strongly suggests that they are addressing ways to expand on these services for iOS developers in a more affordable way than their current enterprise developer program.
TestFlight filled an important role allowing companies and developers to distribute their mobile applications to beta testers before releasing them in an app store. Being able to put your app into the actual hands of a person and hearing what they have to say is crucial to finding bugs and polishing the usability of an app. Distributing your app and getting feedback is something that every app should do before being submitted to an app store.
With TestFlight heading out of commission for new customers and Android, here are alternatives to distributing your app and getting the feedback you need before submitting your app to the app store.
App Distribution – HockeyApp, Installr, TestFairy
HockeyApp is a platform similar to TestFlight for distributing your beta apps. It is available for Android, Windows, iOS, and Mac OSX applications and on their lowest plan ($10/month) you are able to distribute up to 5 apps to an unlimited amount of people. Furthermore, by integrating their open-source SDK you can receive crash reports and detailed analytics around the devices using your beta app.
Another solution is Ubertesters, which allows you to distribute and test across Android, iOS, and Windows. The Ubertesters platform has an array of tools for a mobile product managers to have full control over the testing process and managing beta testers.
Another relatively new option for iOS app developers is Installr (still in beta). Installr syncs with the Apple Developer Portal to keep devices and profiles up to date (no more manually registering devices), making it incredibly simple for you distribute your apps to your beta testers. Android support is in the works and is planned to be ready by the time TestFlight ends it’s Android support.
For Android, TestFairy is positioning itself to be a strong alternative to TestFlight. The distribution process is simple and straight forward and the detailed analytics give you a large amount of insight into what’s going on with your app on each of your various devices.
Feedback – Apptentive
Distributing your app only solves half of the problem. The other is soliciting and managing the feedback you receive. While Apptentive is most commonly implemented in apps that are live in the app store, we have many customers that starting using us to receive and manage feedback while testing their apps. We have two great ways to get feedback from your beta testers and all of it can be implemented for free.
1. Use in-app surveys to ask your beta testers specific questions. Our mobile surveys can be called with the press of a button or triggered by specific behavior taken by your beta testers. If you know you’ll want feedback after they complete level 3 or view X amount of pages, you can have a survey ready and waiting to gather their feedback. Based on the answers you receive, you can update and modify your questions without releasing a new version of your app.
2. Include a “Contact Us” or “Send Feedback” button in your app. By placing a button in your app, beta testers can quickly send feedback and include a screenshot with Apptentive’s in-app feedback tools. If you have questions regarding the feedback, you can easily respond to your tester and have a conversation to get to the bottom of any problem, all through the app.
Apptentive’s conversation management dashboard is perfect for organizing and managing the feedback you receive from your beta testers. All of these tools are free to use, easy to implement, and perfect for learning what final touches are needed before submitting your app to the app stores. Start getting feedback for your beta app and sign up for a free account.