If we want to share an apk file with all the advantages that the Google Play Store offer, but we only want that certain people have access to this app, we can use the beta testing mode in Google Play.
Using the beta testing we are able to upload an apk file and choose among three methods to share it:
Closed beta testing:
Using a closed beta testing method, the app will be only visible and available to the people which email address are added in our testers list. Once they are added, we only have to send them a link that Google Play Developer Console provides and they just have to accept to be a tester. That’s all. After that, the testers will receive a notification when we upload a new version of the app.
Open Beta testing:
With the open beta testing method we can configure how many people can download the app (the minimum must be 1000), or just leave it blank. Then, we get a link from Google Play Developer Console. Who receive this link and accept to be a tester will see the information of the app and can download it in the same way as the closed beta testers. The people that haven’t receive the link won’t see nothing in the store.
Closed beta based on Google+:
In my opinion the less interesting and cumbersome to carry out, but as useful as the other two. It uses Google+ communities or Google Groups to allow a bunch of people within a group to be testers.
Once you are a tester, you will only see the last beta version, If you want to download the last production version, you will have to resign as a tester.
Let’s see how can we make this in a few steps:
Step 1 “Upload the apk”
In the menu on the left we go to “All applications”. There we will see all our apps. We select the app we want to put as a beta.
If we don’t have this app in Play Store yet we can create it by clicking in the “add new application” button in the top right corner of the screen.
We just have to write the name of the app (we can change it in the future) and default language. In this dialog we can choose between prepare the Store listing with all the information related to the app, or upload the apk file.
If we choose to upload the apk, we will see the next screen:
But, what we want is a beta testing, so we change to its tab:
Here we push the button in the center of the screen and choose the apk file that we want to upload.
Step 2 “Configure the beta testing”
Once we have uploaded an apk file, the developer console show us a screen where we can choose one of the methods named before.
If we choose the open beta testing method, we get a simple screen where we can introduce a configuration for the maximum number of user that can download the app.
There we can also see the URL that we need to share with our beta testers to allow them to download the app.
But, if we choose the closed beta testing method instead, we get a screen where we can create a list of testers.
We just have to click in the “Create list” button to see the dialog to introduce the emails of our testers. We can create more than one list.
The email addresses should be those used in the Google account of the testers. Normally it is a Gmail account, but not necessarily is always. To know what is our email address used in Google Play account we just have to open Google Play in the phone and open the drawer menu on the left. There, on the top, we will see our name, picture and the email address.
Once we have created it we can edit it to add more testers in the future. After we create the list we get the URL to share with the testers.0