In August, Twitter launched a beta testing program on Android which allows users to opt-in to try out early versions of the Twitter application and other unreleased features which are being considered for inclusion in the official Twitter mobile applications. Now it seems the company is taking this testing one step further – or rather, one step back – with the launch of an alpha testing program for Android users.
Alpha versions of the Twitter app “will include earlier iterations of experiments,” says Twitter in a post to the Twitter for Android Alpha Program Google Group, where it shares announcements about its testing programs.
The program will also give users the opportunity to provide direct feedback and collaborate directly with the company via a forum, the message explains.
That’s much more involvement that the beta program allows for, as beta users generally just receive a new build of the Android app for testing purposes, but don’t really interact with the company beyond sharing bug reports. Alpha testers, meanwhile, may have the ability to actually influence the direction Twitter heads.
The program will have limited space, and it will be accepting requests on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those who are invited in will receive an email confirmation in a few days if they’re able to get in. Note that joining a test group like this is not for those who rely heavily on the Twitter app working perfectly all the time. An alpha build of an app will have stability issues and far more bugs than the beta or public releases.
Twitter is not the only company to turn to Google Groups and the Android platform to gather up app testers. Other companies have also begun running tests there in recent months, including both Snapchat and Facebook. But Twitter is keen to experiment with its mobile interface, having added a number of new features and changes just ahead of yesterday’s IPO event, including rich media-filled Twitter Cards, a blue line to connect conversations, interaction buttons on the mobile timeline, pre-expanded images, and more.
Not all the changes have been warmly welcomed by Twitter’s user base however – the blue line, in particular, irks some to no end. But with Twitter’s alpha program, there may be room for Twitter’s most vocal and engaged users to have a say in these changes earlier on.