Need to be able to add testers to an app in the App Store

Number:rdar://13275881 Date Originated:February 22, 2013
Status:Open Resolved:
Product: Product Version:
Classification: Reproducible:
The App Store needs better testing and early-development distribution. I know you know. Here's my proposal for a way to do this:

Allow developers to add "in development" apps to the App Store. Rather than having them go through review, they simply upload builds like normal but the builds are set as "in development" which then only go to registered testers associated with the app. Here's a rough idea of the flow:

1. Developer decides to make AMAZING APP HD and buys a developer program subscription.
2. Developer gets AppleIDs for 268 of his closest friends who want to test his amazing new app.
3. Developer logs into the portal and sets up AMAZING APP HD and marks it as "in development."
4. Developer painstakingly types all gathered AppleIDs that were scrawled on dirty napkins into a large "Tester AppleIDs" box for the app on the portal.
5. Testers get an email not entirely unlike the emails received when an app is gifted to someone allowing them to accept or deny testing of AMAZING APP HD.
6. Developer compiles and runs, "Hello, World!" and is super excited and wants to share this progress with the testers.
7. Developer submits app in the usual ways, but since the app is "in development" it does not go into review.
8. Registered testers eventually see AMAZING APP HD show up in their "Purchased Apps" tab in the App Store on their devices and install it.
9. Developer gets feedback from testers requesting more features and different fonts.
10. Developer submits new build of AMAZING APP HD to the store in the usual way.
11. Testers see an update for AMAZING APP HD in their App Store and upgrade as if it was a normally purchased app.
12. Goto 9.
13. Developer finishes the app and submits it for sale by unchecking the "in development" box.
14. App Store Review team now reviews the app.
15. AMAZING APP HD shows up in the store for sale.
16. Testers now automatically own the app forever as if they had purchased it normally.
17. Developer fixs bugs and submits a new update marked as "in development".
18. Testers see an upgrade notification for the app in App Store - All six of the regular customers of AMAZING APP HD do not.
19. Goto 17.
20. Tester grows tired of being a tester, navigates to "Purchased Apps" tab in App Store and sees a special button on the AMAZING APP HD entry marked "Stop Testing".
21. Tester taps button which removes tester from the testers list for AMAZING APP HD and uninstalls the app automatically.
22. Profit.

Bonus points would be to actually allow the developer to put a price on an app - even for testers. Using a mechanism like this, the developer could gather a group of early adopters who are willing to pay for early development access - perhaps to help support the developer in their quest to build the next big game. The goal with this is to provide a way that the next Minecraft could actually happen on iOS. When Minecraft was first beginning, Notch allowed people to pay for beta "lifetime" access up front. Even when the game was barely a game or barely anything at all. That early access generated a lot of buzz and revenue for him allowing him to continue development. I think a system like that is necessary to really take things to the next level in terms of knocking down barriers of entry. My proposed idea isn't quite as open as just being able to toss up an unfinished app on the web and let anyone buy it whenever, but it's probably the next-best-thing with the advantage of also working for developers that simply want to run a closed, free beta while also granting their testers a free version of the app when it's actually launched. The upshot of this all going through the store is that even if the app is terrible and canceled, testers would still "own" the last available version and it'd still be there to download in the future with a device restore or whatever - much like discontinued apps are now.

Ideally this would also all work with in-app purchases, game center achievements, etc. Every aspect of the store should have a "live" state and an "in development" state to allow for proper testing of all aspects with minimal hassle to the tester and developer.


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