For iOS developers, TestFlight is not an unfamiliar product.
At the WWDC developer conference in 2014, it was officially proposed that the App Store would fully support TestFlight, and TestFlight has become a must-use tool for iOS developers to test apps since then, and it was officially launched on the App Store in 2014, with an exclusive module in the backend of iTC.
TestFlight is Apple's official support tool
TestFlight is an official Apple tool to help developers understand their product bugs more comprehensively when new products and features are launched, and to provide effective data for subsequent improvement of product shortcomings; moreover, it can effectively improve product exposure and user cultivation, and developers can use TestFlight in conjunction with their own products to help promote their products.
Review the guidelines
Ideally, you execute this step early in the development process of your app. If you're not familiar with Apple's App Store Review Guidelines, you can find them here. This document contains loads of information that you need to know to make sure your app is appropriate for the App Store.
For example, the guidelines state that your app must contain functionality that makes it interesting or more than just a website packaged in an app.
Unfortunately, reviewing the guidelines is not a guarantee that your app will be accepted in the App Store.
The review process is conducted by humans that might interpret the guidelines slightly different than you did.
Regardless of this fact, it's still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the guidelines because it prevents a lot of disappointment down the line.
Deploy your app to TestFlight
Once your build has processed, you need to prepare it for Testflight. Fill out all the required information under the Test Information section on the Testflight page for your app. You also need to provide "compliance information".
Click on the warning sign that should be visible on your processed build and provide the requested information. Once you've done this you can immediately send your Testflight app to your App Store Connect team members using the App Store Connect Users section in the sidebar.
To send your app to external testers, go to the Add External Testers page in the sidebar. You will first be asked to create a group for your testers. Provide a name and continue. Next, go to the Builds section on the external testers page and add the build that you just uploaded.
Follow the steps in the pop up that appears after you've clicked the Add build to start testing button. Make sure to fill out the Test Information page with the key parts of your app that you want your testers to pay attention to. After doing this, click Submit for Review.
This will send your app to Apple for a very brief beta-phase review. Getting approved for Testflight does not guarantee that your app will be approved for the App Store. In the meantime, you can begin adding testers using the Testers section. Once your build has been approved by Apple, a public link will be visible on the Testers page that you can share to allow people to obtain access to your Testflight app.
Use TestFlight to increase product exposure and users
In recent years, Apple has also been improving and updating the features of TestFlight, and the benefits it brings to developers are gradually coming to the fore.
Conducting data research for upcoming apps or new features
When a new product or a new feature of a product is launched, developers need to conduct a lot of research to determine whether the new feature can effectively reach the target audience and how the target audience reacts to the new feature.
The Beta App launched in TestFlight can directly collect users' personal information, usage information, crash logs and other information to help developers improve and make up for the shortcomings of the product more efficiently.
Pre-launch promotion before an app or new app feature
Using TestFlight to conduct internal tests for apps that will be available on the App Store can also serve as a pre-publicity for the app.
Although the number of places for internal testing is limited, the titles of "first to try" and "first users of internal testing" are also able to give users a sense of satisfaction, and can even prompt them to spontaneously promote the app. This is somewhat similar to the advance booking of some large handheld games for internal testing.
When an app can't be listed on the App Store for some reasons, you can use TestFlight to continue to gain volume
In recent years, national regulation and Apple's policies have become increasingly strict. When a product cannot be put on the App Store as scheduled for some reason, developers may use TestFlight to launch an internal test version of the product, inviting no more than 10,000 users for internal testing, and the time limit can be up to 90 days, so that the product can get a group of stable users before it is officially put on the store.
How to set up TestFlight in iTC backend?
Before setting up TestFlight in the backend of iTC, you should first understand what kind of products are suitable for setting up this function.
Firstly, if you want to launch new products or new features, you can understand the bug and product experience problems; secondly, if the App cannot be listed on the App Store normally for some reasons, you can use TestFlight to distribute it.
In setting up invitations for internal testers, developers can invite internal testers and external testers to test the app.
Internal beta testers are App Store Connect users with different functions in the developer team, up to 25 people, and each member can test on up to 30 devices. External testers are people outside of the team and can be invited by up to 10,000 people.
How to create the main process for inviting external testers
Open iTC backend, select the App you want to test internally in "My App", and select TestFlight in the toolbar.
Click "Test information" in the bottom left corner, and select the main language to use, enter relevant test information, Beta App review information and license agreement in this screen. Developers can submit builds that invite external testers only if they submit complete test information.
Beta app review information
This includes "Contact Information" (including last name, first name, phone number, and email), "Login Information" (including username and password), and "Review Comments". The "Review Notes" can be filled with additional information about the App that may help speed up the review, but cannot have demo account details and cannot exceed 4000 characters.
The information entered for the Beta App can be different from the App information that the developer later uploads to the App Store.
Upload a build version. Only one build per release can be reviewed at a time, and only after that build is approved can the developer continue to submit other builds.
Also, only the first build of each version needs to be reviewed, and additional builds submitted afterwards may not need to be fully reviewed. When a build is approved, users with "admin" functions will receive an approval email. The opposite will be shown as "rejected". And the validity of the approved build is 90 days.
Click "Testers and Groups" and select "Add External Tester" or "Create New Group", developers can name it according to their needs.
Developers can choose to create only one group of testers and add each build they want users to test. You can also choose to create multiple groups and add different builds to each group.
Add builds to the group. After selecting the group to which you want to add a build, click the "Add" button and select the platform and version according to your needs in the pop-up menu. However, only one build can be added at a time.
When selecting "testers" for the group you want to test, developers can invite testers via public link, email or both.
Invite using a public link
Click "Enable public link" and confirm in the dialog box. At the same time, set the number of beta testers using this public link in the "Number of beta testers", which ranges from 1 to 10,000. After that, developers can share the test link in various channels and wait for users to test it.
Invite using the tester's email address
Click on the "Add" button next to "Testers" and choose the developer's desired option between adding new testers using email addresses, adding existing testers that you have previously added, or importing testers from a CSV file. Testers who have been targeted will then receive an invitation email and, if accepted, can start testing via the link.
After accepting the invitation, the tester will be directed to the App Store to download TestFlight and experience the accepted internal test version in this App.
Check the information about testers
Under "Testers and Groups", click the group you want to view. The "Status" column allows you to view the status of the beta testers. Users invited by email will be shown with their names and email addresses, while users invited by public link will be shown as anonymous.
You can also view the number of crashes for each build and the number of times it has run in the foreground for at least two seconds, while the displayed status can be categorized as Invited, Accepted, or Installed.
Gather tester feedback
Testers using iOS13 can send feedback via TestFlight 2.3 for iOS or later, or directly from the Beta App via screenshot.
Developers can view this tester feedback in the "Feedback" section of App Store Connect. For testers using devices with earlier versions of iOS, feedback will be sent to the email address provided by the developer in the "Test Information" section.