Beta testing can be rewarding, and Android Central is here to help you get started
In 2013, Google opened up the Google Play Store to provide proper beta testing for applications. That is, a method for the developers of the apps to have two tracks in Google play at the same time — a stable and current track for most users, and a beta branch for folks who are willing to test features that may not yet be ready for prime-time. This helps developers, and as a bonus it makes it a pretty simple affair for you and me to sign up and get in on some hot beta action with our favorite apps.
Because everything can now be hosted right on Google Play, getting signed up and updated to the latest beta version is pretty simple for both developers and end-users like us. You'll open a web page on your computer or your Android, and sign up with the Google account you use at Google Play. The rest is automatic, and once you're done you'll soon see an update right in the Google Play app on your Android that gets you going.
Because beta software is prone to bugs — sometimes pretty glaring and nasty ones — you also need to have a way for developers and testers to communicate. Joining a beta test has a little bit of responsibility attached, and you should expect to be able to properly report what you're finding, both good and bad. The most popular ways to do this for Android apps is via Google Groups or with a community on Google+. It's also the starting point where you'll learn how and where to sign up.
Enough talk. We know you're ready to get started, so here's your list!
- Android Central (Google+ community)
- Action Launcher (Google+ community)
- Astro File Manager (Google+ community)
- Aviary (Google+ community)
- Beautiful Widgets (Google+ community)
- Boid (Google+ community)
- BuzzFeed (Google+ community)
- DashClock (Google group)
- Dolphin browser (Google+ community)
- Echofon (Google+ community)
- Evernote (Google+ community)
- GasBuddy (Google+ community)
- GetGlue (Google+ community)
- GrooVe IP (Google+ community)
- Facebook (Google group)
- Falcon Pro (Google+ community)
- Fleksy (Google+ community)
- Instagram (Google Group)
- Nova Launcher (Google+ community)
- Notification Weather Pro (Google+ community)
- MyColorScreen (Google+ community)
- Plume (Google+ community)
- Rdio (Google group)
- RunKeeper (Google+ community)
- Scope (Google+ community)
- Sliding Explorer (Google+ community)
- Sliding Messaging (Google+ community)
- Snapchat (Google+ community)
- Truecaller (Google+ community)
- Twitter (Google group)
- UberSocial (Google+ community)
- Viber (Google+ community)
These comminutes aren't for Android apps, but they are a great resource for Android related tools, hacks, and tricks:
Many of these groups and communities are open, but some are closed — meaning you'll need to be approved before you can participate. That's up to the developers and folks keeping tabs on versions, because often times there will be several different builds of a piece of software in testing. It can be a headache, and having too many folks is often just as bad as not having enough.
Now that you know a little bit about what you're getting into if you decide to join a beta test, and where to get started, we get to the part where we can help. Look through our curated list of beta programs for popular Android apps, and you'll find a link to exactly where you need to go to begin. Not every app is in this list. Many developers still use a closed beta and don't have a program for users to join, and we're only listing the best of the best here. We'll update things as we progress, and keep the best Android app beta programs right here so you can always find them.
Developers — should your app beta program be on our list? Or are you a user who knows a great beta we need to look at? Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!