Carefully manage app updates for a small set of core users to squash bugs
Google I/O 2013 is plugging along today, and one of the biggest features from a developer point of view is that they can now manage both Beta Testing and Staged Rollouts for updates to their apps. Rather than using a third party system to offer plain .apk downloads to certain users, developers can now plug into Google+ to give certain users access to early updates directly from the Play Store that no one else can see. This way, only the people that developers want to beta test will have access to the latest. Staged Rollouts is similar, but isn't tied to specific users. With this function, developers can choose to only push an update to a specific percentage of their users -- say 10-, 20-, or 30-percent -- and ramp up over time. This way you can get a slow and steady stream of input from users to address.
Feedback and comments during beta testing and staged rollouts isn't posted publicly to the Play Store, but rather goes directly to the developer to manage bug reports and test out the new features. As the rollout picks up, things will eventually go public so users can give a proper review in the Play Store. We look forward to seeing how many developers take advantage of this.