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Beta testing your IOS Apps with TestFlightApp.com

You are almost done implementing that brilliant “iPhone app idea” in your mind and cannot control your excitement for sharing your iPhone app with the world.  But you know in your heart that, it is the programmer speaking within yourself.

The cold businessman/entrepreneur within you unfortunately knows, that there is a Beta testing period ahead where you will want to get at least 50-100 users to use your app, report bugs and suggest changes before you can even think of releasing the app to the AppStore.

The Problem :

The problem now is Apple has made it so difficult for you to do an Adhoc distribution for your app, it is nothing short of a nightmare. Let us start with a few things you would have to do for Ad-hoc dist :

  1. Find users of course, to test your app in Beta. These would ideally be non-technical users who represent a real audience, rather than you and your geeky friends doing the testing for you.
  2. Generate an AD-HOC cert from Apple developer portal, download it and sign your app with that
  3. Email all these non-techie users and ask them to send you their UDID (good luck with that!). Most probably they will think you are asking for their SSN !
  4. Add these UDIDs to the provisioning portal and download a new provisioning profile and update it in your project
  5. Make an AD-HOC build, create an .IPA file and email it to your beta testers.
  6. Get your beta testers to download the .IPA to their desktop, drag and drop it to their iTunes and sync their phone (again good luck with this! Nobody every syncs their iPhone to the desktop iTunes btw.)
  7. We tried to do this with Loqly (iTunes Link) and out of 80 users who were willing to help, 10 users replied with UDIDs and believe it or not, 2 users were able to install the app through iTunes.
  8. Now, imagine fixing a bug and sending out an update. In our case, only 1 person tried to update and his iTunes kept erroring out.

The Solution :

Enter the awesome folks at http://testflightapp.com. We discovered them when were on step 8 above. i.e our Beta testing was pretty much halted!! Testflightapp was in their Beta at that time. And they were God sent angels for us. Let us see how testflight helped us :

  • Step#1 and #2 above – We had to take care of it ourselves of course.
  • Step# 3 – You add a user’s email ID to testflight app and it automatically emails them and the moment they click accept/register on their iPhone, their UDID magically shows up in testflight app portal.
  • Step#4,#5 – You still do it manually
  • Step#6 – This is where the magic happens. The beta tester gets an email on his IOS device, he clicks the install button and bam! the app is installed.
  • Once we integrated testflightapp.com, we got 70 users to do our beta testing for us.

Bottomline : As you may have noticed, there is nothing magical about testflightapp, since it just adds a layer on top of what Apple offers you. But the key is to notice that they have taken care of the main pain points. i.e Getting the users to Signup for beta, download the app and receive future updates.

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