Apple has pushed its TestFlight Beta testing service live for everyone, the company revealed on its developer news portal today. Registered developers can now invite up to 1,000 beta testers to try out their iOS apps, using emailed invitations sent via the iTunes Connect portal. TestFlight, the beta testing service Apple acquired sometime within the last year, allows developers to build teams to try out software before it launches, and report back bugs in order to prepare apps for a public launch.
TestFlight had still been usable by devs between Apple’s acquisition of the service and now, but this marks the completion of Apple’s transition of the service to a built-in part of its developer tools. Now, TestFlight invites are distributed via iTunes Connect, as mentioned, and a dedicated TestFlight app provides the central resource for testers in terms of providing feedback and getting new builds as they’re released by developers, instead of the web portal TestFlight used pre-acquisition.
Once external testers are invited to TestFlight, they’ll receive a link to download the official app from the App Store. There’s no longer any need to install provisioning profiles on tester devices with this shift, and there’s no need to for users to manually find and send their device’s UDID to participate. The official app will also send notifications when new builds of an app they’re testing is available, which is much more convenient than getting an email, as was the case before.
To make an app available for the 1,000 external testers that this launch enables, an app has to pass a Beta App Review, which means it’s subject to the same App Store Review Guidelines that apply to final releases. New versions with big changes require a new review before being pushed to testers, and developers can test up to 10 apps at a time, both internally (which requires no review approval, and which is available to 25 admin or tech level team members in iTunes Connect) and externally.
Apple has shared more about how to get started with TestFlight here, and developers who are looking to get more help can head over to the App Review team contact page (developer account and login required).
The new TestFlight offers a lot of convenience features that should make it easier for developers to gather feedback from actual users, instead of just tech-savvy early adopters, but that review requirement might add some time to how fast builds can go out. At any rate, it’s nice to see wider beta testing options finally built directly into the platform.