Over the past couple of years, TestFlight has become the standard choice for giving beta testers (and tech bloggers) early access to iOS apps. Today the service is launching for Android developers too — including cross-platform developers who already use TestFlight on iOS.
As an iPhone owner, I’m less familiar with the Android app ecosystem, but I have heard that there isn’t as big a need for something like TestFlight. In an email interview, co-founder Ben Satterfield acknowledged that “over the air distribution on Android isn’t a pain point like it is on iOS,” but he said that TestFlight has received more than 10,000 requests for Android support from developers. He added:
Team management and ensuring device coverage in the fragmented Android ecosystem are still needed points for developers during the beta process. TestFlight for Android is going to help solve these problems. It will also create a single dashboard for both iOS and Android so its easy for developers to keep track of all of their app beta testing from one place.
Satterfield and his team plan to roll out Android support slowly, through a private beta. There will be an official Android TestFlight app, but for now, you need to be invited to the beta in order to download it. There’s no specific timeline for moving into general availability, but Satterfield said it should happen “relatively quickly.”
TestFlight is also sharing some numbers about usage on iOS — it says developers have uploaded more than 300,000 apps into the service, with 100,000 uploaded in the past 90 days. Notable customers include Adobe, Disney, Halfbrick, Spotify, and Tumblr. (By the way, service was acquired by Burstly last year.)
I’m a frequent user of TestFlight on the consumer/tester side, but this was the first chance I’d gotten to talk to Satterfield, so I also asked him about my perception of the service — that most of the startups and developers I know use it, but usually with some grumbling about the process. He responded:
We believe TestFlight has done a great job simplifying a complex process, but we have to work within the rules of each platform. Frustrations with the provisioning process (by far our most common complaint) often result in Testflight taking the brunt of the developers frustrations. Often our most frustrated customers are turned into satisfied ones with some provisioning help or letting them know that their new device hasn’t been provisioned yet. There are certainly areas that Testflight can continue to improve, regardless of the restrictions, and we are continuing to work on ways to prevent confusion and streamline the process.
He also said that less than 0.1 percent of downloads result in an opened support ticket, and that the team reaches out on Twitter to proactively address other issues.
Developers can sign up for the Android private beta here.