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Google Opens Up Early Access Program for Mobile App Testing

Google is inviting more mobile app developers to use its Early Access program, in which open betas are made available to the public to give users a first look at new creations while providing developers with valuable pre-release feedback.

The program, first unveiled during the company's May Google I/O conference, has been operating for more than a month, providing an Early Access collection of apps on the Google Play store.

"It was an immediate hit," said Google exec Karolis Balciunas in a blog post last week. "Early-adopter users were eager and willing to send developers actionable, private feedback in exchange for an opportunity to get their hands onto the latest exciting apps and games. Most importantly, the feedback was objective and candid as it did not come from their friends and family who are often afraid to hurt their feelings. In just over a month since the collection became available to all users, open beta titles have been installed over 1 million times and demand is only growing."

With the expansion of the Early Access program, developers can nominate their apps or games to be included with this form, whereas previously Apple hand-picked chosen developers for participation.

That form states:

If you are working on an exciting new Android app and would like to be considered for featuring in our Early Access collection, we would like to hear from you. Early Access features apps that are in an open beta, before they launch in production on Google Play. We are looking for new apps and games (not updates to existing ones) that are testing new ideas, user interaction flows, business ideas etc.

Please note that due to a large volume of responses we may not be able to reply to everyone, however we are carefully vetting every submission and will be contacting you if we would like to officially nominate your app/game for inclusion, closer to the time of your open beta launch.

In last week's post, Balciunas explained how three companies -- Lingbe, Readfeed and Drippler -- used the Early Access program to validate concepts, solicit feature requests, identify bugs, locate new target markets and optimize existing ones, and much more.

"It's the diligent testing, constant user feedback loop and incremental tweaks leading up to that special launch moment that truly count," Balciunas said.

About the Author

David Ramel is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine and Application Development Trends Magazine.

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