How to sign up for an app beta from the Google Play Store

Beta testing is a beneficial process for both gamers and developers alike. Beta testers feel like the special chosen ones who get the inside scoop on a new game before the rest of the public, while developers get free help testing out their unreleased games and earning valuable feedback and bug reports. Many of the best Android apps and best Android games use beta programs to test new features, while games that haven't been released yet use Early Access betas to help get bugs and design flaws fixed before launch. We'll break down the different types of Google Play beta programs for apps and games, as well as how to sign up for games that aren't available for download yet.

The difference between a closed beta, open beta, and Early Access

Closed betas are usually invite-only and typically only available to the public through some form of direct contact with the development studio or PR team. Opportunities to sign up to be a beta tester are commonly announced through Twitter or other communication channels like Facebook or Discord. These are designed to be perks for long-time fans of the studio or game franchise. Closed betas will have you sign up through a medium outside Google Play and then receive either a specialized code to download the early app — or in some cases, closed betas have you directly install APKs distributed through whichever community the beta is hosted on, such as a Discord server or Signal Group.

On the other hand, an open beta is open for anyone to sign up for directly through Google Play. The option to join the beta will be visible in the app or game's Google Play listing, and you can join or leave at any time without having to be put on or taken off of a developer's special list. Open betas are used by hundreds of popular apps and games, from Slack to YouTube and even Google Play Services, the framework that impacts major sections of the Android system. Open betas on Google Play can be restricted to a certain number of users — and indeed, the beta programs for most Google apps are full, with spots seldom opening up.

Games and apps that haven't launched yet also have the option to offer Early Access through Google Play. Early Access games may allow you to play a game before launch for free or have the chance to buy and test a game before anyone else, but regular apps can use Early Access to test their viability before launch and tweak as needed.

How to pre-register for Early Access games

  1. Open Google Play.
  2. Tap Pre-register games in the games tab. You might have to scroll down a bit to find it.
  3. Tap the game you wish to pre-register for.
  4. Tap Pre-register.Source: Android Central

  1. Uncheck the toggle for get notified. It cuts down on spam emails.
  2. Tap Install when available.
  3. Make sure the Early Access toggle is turned on.Source: Android Central

Not all games that offer pre-registration will offer Early Acces to the beta, and some games might only select a limited number of pre-registered users to take part in Early Access. Either way, you miss out on 100% of the chances you don't take, so pre-register and hope for the best.

How to join the beta program for apps in Google Play

Once upon a time, beta programs were run through private communities and were very difficult to get into, but these days, you don't even have to leave the app's Google Play listing to join the beta in most cases. You just need to know where to look.

  1. Open Google Play.
  2. Tap your avatar in the top right corner.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap the app you want to join the beta for.Source: Android Central

  1. Scroll down the app listing and tap Join under Join the beta.
  2. Tap Join to confirm your decision.Source: Android Central

Your Google Play account will be added to the list for the beta program, and in a few minutes, you'll receive an app update to push your app to the latest beta build. If you scroll up and down an app listing and don't see a Join the beta section, either the developer runs a closed beta or does its beta testing outside the Google Play Store. Check the developer's website; they may have links to the external beta there.

If at any time the bugs or quirks of a beta app get to be too much, you can roll back to the stable app by leaving the beta program, though I highly encourage you to leave feedback before you do so.

How to leave the beta program for apps in Google Play.

  1. Open Google Play.
  2. Tap your avatar in the top right corner.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap the Beta tab.Source: Android Central

  1. Tap the app you want to leave the beta for.
  2. Tap Leave under You're a beta tester.
  3. Tap Leave.Source: Android Central

Your account will be removed from the beta program, and in a few minutes, an app update will push out, rolling you back to the stable version of the app.

Beta testers beware

This should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: beta software can be unstable and full of bugs. You should expect to run into some weird glitches and may experience app crashes.

Having said that, it can also be quite rewarding to be among the first to play an exciting new game, and you do get the unique opportunity to provide feedback and opinions directly to the developer. The developers want to know about the issues you run into and your thoughts on the overall experience, so if you aren't prepared to leave feedback, you probably shouldn't even bother with signing up to participate in a beta in the first place.

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.