Testing your Windows Phone apps is really time consuming if you have to do it yourself. I used to let my apps being tested by friends by unlocking their devices and installing the new app by hand on their devices.
A much better way is submitting the new app to the store as a BETA version in the Windows Phone Developers portal. When you submit an app, you can mark it at Beta:
Just provide a list of unique email addresses which are used by your testers to get to the Windows Phone Store (the account associated with their phones) and submit the app.
It will take a few hours for the app to be accepted (which is really fast, only last year it took a couple of days). Then the app will become available in the store, hidden, and it is only downloadable for these users listed as beta tester:
You will get a download address like http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=bd2cbd03-4056-48f9-8010-b98925937e42 . So share it with the testers:
You just have to send that store address to your testers, finally.
And if you want to add other testers, just update the app, just update the list, resubmit the app, wait a few hours (again, for acceptance) and provide them the link too. (On a personal note, I do not like this procedure. If I do not submit a newer version and only want to update the list of testers, then why do I have to wait for the certification process and an update in the store. Seems like a lot of overhead…)
But now wpbeta.me is available as preview. This service (only for Windows Phone developers) makes it possible for them to ‘advertise’ their beta apps for free to registered beta testers. This makes it possible to get beta testers from all over the world with less effort and the service makes it easy to communicate to all your testers. And it’s free!
And for you and me, as beta testers, we can see which beta versions of apps are popular or new and we can ask to join the beta test.
So let’s register an app. Just take the App ID (and if this is your first app, your Publisher ID) so the site knows your beta app and can download settings of it:
After that, testers can join your beta test. Here you can see 13 testers are available already (it started with zero):
So now my beta app is published and discoverable (that’s how I got these 13 testers):
This does not mean everybody can download my app directly. No, beta testers first have to register to my app in wpbeta.me and then I will retrieve their email address, which they use to visit the Windows Phone store, to formally accept them as testers.
This example app has already been submitted and some tester have already downloaded the app (see later). But two new testers just joined:
How can I make these two persons to download my app?
This is where the magic happens. First, wpbeta.me provides me a list of all beta testers which have registered for my app:
Then using this list I can update my beta app in the Windows Phone Developer dashboard and update the (growing) list of testers:
And when this update is certified as a new beta version the developer will receive an email with the list of all the testers which are registered. Finally, just forward that email to email@example.com and after a view hours, all new testers (just them, nobody else) will receive a nice email with the download link:
And as seen before, we can track if your testers have used this download link. So you have a simple check to see how many user could have downloaded your app 🙂
Is this all? Almost! There is also a simple way to send a message to your users (only once a week to prevent spamming).
And there is swag. By using wpbeta.me you will be granted free coupons for eg. AdDuplex, myFreeApp and AdDeals.
So in the end, this is a useful add-on to the Windows Phone Developers portal but it would be nice if this was just an integrated feature. And this would be a nice feature for Windows (10) (Universal) Store apps too.
Note: I got a message from a tester running Windows 10 Mobile Insider preview. He was not able to open the link. The referral to the regular store ended up in a ‘beta’ store?
So it’s a no-go for Windows 10 Mobile Insider preview at this moment…