We can now use Apple-flavored TestFlight with external testers, which is great. I was unsure about some parts of the process - especially Beta App Review.
Here are my findings.
First off, you should get into the habit of submitting beta builds from Xcode, which was only needed for final builds earlier. I’ve been submitting quasi-daily builds lately. The same “Submit…” button you used to submit final builds from Xcode’s Archives has now been repurposed to submit betas as well.
Setup is pretty straightforward. There’s even a video tutorial if you’re confused.
Bad news: you need to submit the build for review before it can be seen by external testers. It works more or less like normal app review, you just need to fill in a “What to Test” section for your testers.
But it’s not that bad. In my (admittedly limited) experience, Beta App Review took between 6 and 24 hours. So, significantly faster than regular app review.
It gets better: if you upload a new build for the same version, after submitting for Beta app review you will be asked if there are “significant” changes in the build. If you say no, the new build is instantly approved.
As far as I know this stuff is undocumented, so they might change it in the future. Please don’t abuse the service and ruin it for everyone.
A few notes:
- Testers can make in-app purchases free of charge, which enables them to test all of the purchasing flows liberally.
- Something I particularly like is that a build in iTunes Connect is just a build. You can ship it out to internal and external testers, and if no issues arise you can just use it for a new app version - no need to upload a separate one for your public release.
- You can retroactively invite a new tester to test an existing build, which was impossible with old TestFlight.
As always, contact me if you have any questions - or if you’d like to beta test my apps!