Beta testing your app is a very important step in the pre-launch stage of your app development since it could highlight any problems with the following:
Quality: You may be sure that you have built a quality app, but only with proper beta testing will you be able to see that all the features function the way they are meant to. Quality is closely linked to the next point,
Usability: From UI through to UX. A usable app is one with an intuitive user-interface, with users easily able to navigate through your app, find what they want, and do what they expect to with your app. You are looking at how they perform certain functions, and seeing if there are any ways of improving the flow.
Bugs: Naturally you would have been thorough in ensuring there are no bugs in your app, but until it is used in a real-world scenario, you can't be sure. From serious bugs that cause the app to crash, to minor bugs that only reveal themselves under certain conditions.
Performance: The device, operating system, and even other apps could all affect the speed and overall performance of your app. Beta testing gives you an opportunity to analyse this more authentically than your own lab tests.
Marketing: From word-of-mouth marketing between your testers and their friends, through to insights into ideal audience as revealed by your testers, beta testing can help shape your marketing strategy pre-launch.
After considering these points, you'd find it difficult to deny that beta testing could help your app, and its launch, tremendously. And setting up beta testing isn't a complicated process, with a multitude of tools available. Some of these tools focus on just one aspect of beta testing, while others try to offer a more comprehensive set of features. Here's a rundown of some of the best ones.
Discussions around UI and UX entered the mainstream in the late '90s as the internet became more accessible and more popular. And while the first mobile apps might not have made good use of UI and UX -- after all, it was a brand new field -- most large app developers now have separate departments focused only on UI and UX.
At first glance, UserTesting is very similar to UXCam. It gives you access to videos (and audio) of real-world users interacting with your app. However, unlike UXCam, UserTesting seems more like a beta testing tool in that it can be used at any stage in your development cycle, and you specify which tasks you want to test. So instead of seeing how users interact with your app as a whole, you can more narrowly focus on specific sections of your app, and specific tasks.
99tests is promoted as a crowdsourced testing platform. What this means is that, like UserTesting, you specify the audience type -- key demographics, device type, location, etc. -- and 99tests find the perfect testers for you.
TestFairy is another beta testing tool that provides a video recording of what users are doing with your app. However, TestFairy does not give you easy access to a pool of testers, and you are expected to source your own testers. This shouldn't be a deal breaker when considering beta testing tools, but it does mean you should have a tester 'recruitment' plan in place before signing up for TestFairy, if you don't already have your own pool of testers. Using family and friends is a good start, but only if they match the demographics of your intended audience. You want a diverse pool of testers who are able to test your app on different devices, and in different real-world situations -- for example, using WiFi versus mobile data.
The final tool in this roundup of top beta testing tools for your app is one that offers more than just a testing tool. HockeyApp offers the standard features you would expect in a beta testing tool, but they also include user metrics. User metrics in HockeyApp encompass everything from number of active users and engagement, through to information on devices on which your app crashed in the last 30-days. This last metric can be quite valuable in helping you differentiate between bugs that affect all users, and those that affect users on specific devices.