Let’s get one thing out of the way: beta testing on iOS used to be an unforgiving nightmare. I’ve run several tests for Distant Star — for the initial release, for the first major update, and for the iPhone port — and every one of them was a complete and utter pain-in-the-*.
We’ve made some major changes to Distant Star recently, including revamping the entire production, research, & combat systems, as well as re-doing most of the art in the game; naturally, we decided that it would be a good idea to run the updated game through another round of testing.
This time, though, we’re using TestFlight.
If you haven’t heard of it, TestFlight is an absolutely lovely tool for testing iOS apps. While it’s helpful on the developer side of things (I’ll come back to this later), it especially shines for your testers. Where before they had to find their UDID, email it to you, drag your hand-emailed .ipa and distribution profile into iTunes, and sync, with Testflight it’s just a matter of installing the TestFlight (web) app and tapping the ‘install’ button next to your app’s icon. Absolute magic, and you never need to have that awkward I-need-your-device’s-serial-number email conversation that’s so difficult..
On the development side, TestFlight’s pretty magic as well. Building against their newly-released SDK lets you collect really deep metrics about how and when testers use your app. It even collects crash logs and NSLogs (!) remotely, a task which used to be pretty much the most painful thing ever.
So, yeah. If you’re not using TestFlight, you should be. And if the reason you’re not using TestFlight is that you’re not running constant user-facing tests, well…