Become a beta tester

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I often get questions about how to become a beta tester or why the new version isn't available in the Play Store.
In this post, I want to summarize how Google Play beta program works and how I use it for publishing the Highway Radar.

Overview

From Google support page:
Beta apps are new, experimental versions of apps that are currently available on the Play Store. The beta version may have features that are not available in the public version yet.
Google Play has several release tracks for the applications. With Highway Radar I use two of them:
  • Production - this is a default track, and most users get their updates from this track unless they explicitly enrolled for beta
  • Beta - also known as "Open track," everyone can join the Beta program, and get application updates from this track
Highway Radar

With Highway Radar, I use the following steps to release a new version. For example, let's assume that I'm updating v1.0 to v1.1
  1. First, I publish the new v1.1 update to the beta channel. At the same time, I start a thread at RDF.
    • Beta track has version v1.1 at this time (however, sometimes it is sent for manual review, and it may take up to a week for it to become available)
    • Production track still has version v1.0
  2. Whenever I see something that needs to be fixed or improved (for example, as a result of the crash or user reports), I push an updated version to the beta channel.
    • Whenever I do it, I add a build number to the version. The build number is only displayed in the app itself on the start screen.
    • I won't add any new features to updates like this one. Only fixing the bugs.
    • Beta track has version v1.1 (build 1) at this time. Each subsequent update within beta track increases the build number.
    • Production track still has version v1.0
  3. Once the beta has no problems (crashes, issues, etc.) for at least seven days, I promote it to production
    • Both beta and production tracks have v1.1 version at this time

For example, at the time of publishing this post, the production track has version v2.2.2, and the beta track has version v2.3 (build 2).

If everything goes well, I'll promote the v2.3 (build 2) to production on the next weekend.

If a bug is discovered during this week, the promotion to production will be postponed until a week passed after the version fixing the bug is available in the beta channel.
This way, here is what you get by having a beta or production version:
  • Production - you get stable releases, that received no reports from beta testers for at least a week; however, you get new features later than beta testers
  • Beta - you can be the first to try all the new features; however, the app may be unstable and very polished sometimes.
Note that this is only applicable to the Highway Radar application. RD test, for example, doesn't have any beta program, and all new versions go straight to production.

Enrolling to the beta track (applicable to any app in the Play Store)

To get the beta version of an app, you have to have the public version installed. To enroll for a beta version:
  1. Open the Google Play Store.
  2. Find the app you want to check and tap it to go to the app detail page.
  3. Look to see if the app detail page mentions a beta version. Make sure you scroll down as this information could be at the bottom of the page.
  4. Tap Join.
 

Bossdad71

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Lol I sure feel dumb now, should have read this.
 

Jesse

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I joined beta, thanks for the directions.
 

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