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(Update: wider rollout begins) Latest Play Store update makes it much easier to beta test apps
Update, June 27: It looks like Google has begun to switch on the beta functionality to more users. Multiple people on Reddit now see the Beta tab in the My apps & games section of the Android Play Store client. The ability to join or leave beta programs from the Play Store listing is also now available. The feature is activated from the server on a per-user basis so it only shows up for some users right now. For reasons we don’t know, Google is taking its sweet time rolling out this feature. Anyone seeing it? Let us know in the comments.
Original post, May 16: A new version of Google’s Play Store is rolling out and the main change will please frequent beta testers.
Google is making it easier to join beta programs for Android apps, leave feedback, and manage the apps that you signed up to test.
Before the update, there was no way of telling from the mobile Play Store if the app you were viewing had a beta or if you had signed up for the beta earlier. Joining a beta testing program was relatively simple, but it implied some back and forth between the Play Store, the developer’s website, and the app’s Google Plus beta community.
Everything is much simpler with version 6.7 of the Play Store. There is now a sign-up form that lets you join the beta with one tap. Apps that have beta versions will advertise it in their Play Store entry, making it easier to stay up to date with what’s new and exciting. You can also leave the beta right from the Play Store.
The new Play Store warns you that you’re about to sign up to test unfinished software, but just to make it safer for developers, you can only leave feedback, not a regular review or app rating. That’s to protect developers from taking a ratings hit due to issues caused by the beta.
Finally, if the app has been in beta since the beginning, meaning that it doesn’t have a public release yet, the Play Store will highlight that.
The APK file for the updated app has been collected by Android Police, but it looks like the new features are enabled server-side. In other words, you may not see the new features right away. Google may want to announce the update – and kick off the full rollout – at Google I/O later this week.
What beta apps have you signed up for?