Google Play Launches Early Access for Apps

August 10, 2018


Typically, beta tests of apps are released to a select group before the app becomes fully available. Google Play has allowed developers to release beta versions of their apps before, but is now giving them the chance to release their apps as early access versions for users to install. Early access apps allow users to install and use an app or mobile game before its full release, as per the app’s instructions. This is separate although not exclusive from beta versions of apps. Beta apps, which Google Play has offered before, are experimental versions of currently released apps, made for testing before being made available to the public. Early access users may also be automatically enrolled in the beta program for an app once it launches, so there is crossover between the two options. The biggest difference between the two is whether or not the app has been released. With early access, users can discover something new, although they are still technically participating in an incomplete app. This can benefit developers or brands with an existing userbase- they will be able to tap into these engaged users who will be excited to try an early version of a new app or feature. Mobile games from well-known developers will particularly benefit from this, as it will not only help find and fix bugs before the game goes live, but it will build buzz around the game among their fans. When the public version does go live, there will already be players ready who have tried the early release version or heard about it from friends that have. Beta versions, on the other hand, allow dedicated users to test upcoming versions before an update rolls out. While they may not be necessary for minor bug fixes or small new features, it will be a useful tool for testing how well large new updates and features work as well as receiving feedback and determining how well users respond. There have been cases where updates to an app displeased its users to the point where they stopped using it and moved to a competing app - beta versions can help identify pain points that would cause a mass user migration and nip the problem in the bud. Users can sign up for early access versions of apps from the Google Play Store. Early access apps can be found at the end of the store category list, available in a new dedicated section. This will also help with app discovery, as it places upcoming apps in a new section for users to search through and find apps relevant to their interests in. Beta versions can be found directly from the app pages. Users can also see what apps offer beta versions by going to “My apps and games” then “Beta” from the menu. If your app is ready for testing but not ready to support too many users, developers can limit the number of users that can try early access or beta versions of their apps. Not all users will be able to access them, although they can receive notifications if new spaces open up. After using an early access or beta version, users can provide developers with feedback directly from the app page. Unlike reviews, this feedback will only be available to the developer, so they can identify and fix issues without impacting their ratings or leaving negative reviews for the public. In fact, users with early access or beta versions cannot leave public reviews until they have the publicly released version installed. For developers looking to get feedback and test their apps or updates before a public release, the early access versions will prove as beneficial as beta versions have. If your app or mobile game needs testing before going live, this could be a good way to receive important user feedback.



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