Features of TestFlight
There’s two main categories of users that you’ll use TestFlight with: internal testers and external testers.
Think of internal testing as a closed beta. Internal testers are generally the members of your team—your developers, your QA resources, your marketing team, etc. You can have up to 25 internal testers, and each tester can test on up to 30 devices, in case your engineering team needs to test on multiple versions of iOS or multiple generations of iPhones. An internal tester will be able to access all beta builds to test, so you definitely want to limit this to your actual team members and not real end users.
External testers are where real end users might get involved—think of external testing as an open beta. These testers could be anyone from your Twitter followers to your friends and family. You can add external testers directly via their email or by enabling public link sharing and posting your invitation link. The key difference between these testers and the internal testers is external testers can only access the builds that you select for them to test, making it an ideal solution for putting test builds in the hands of real end users.
We get this question a lot. Until early 2018, there wasn’t an official Google Play Store solution for internal testing of apps. Using the Play Console, you can distribute your app for internal testing, closed alpha testing, and open beta testing.
Internal testing on the Play Console is similar to internal testing on TestFlight. You can have up to 100 internal testers that will get every build of your app to test. Again, you’ll want to limit these users to your own team members, friends, or family.
Alpha releases on Play Console can be used for when you want a closed test. The users are invited by the developer and must opt-in to the alpha program before they can begin testing. Similar to internal testers, alpha testers should not be real end users but rather internal team members, friends, or family.
Beta releases on Play Console can be used for when you want an open test. The users can sign up through the Play Store to start testing your app. This is the point at which real end users would begin testing, and the beta release requires a Google review of your app.
Testing on Android used to lag behind what iOS offered with TestFlight, but Android has leveled the playing field with the addition of internal testing to the Play Store in March 2018. No matter what platform your app is on, you can enjoy first-party support for managing both internal and external testing, and we can safely say that Play Console is a suitable TestFlight alternative for Android.