After you have developed your mobile application you want to test it out on real devices with real testers, both Android and Apple let you run provisioned ad-hoc version of your application. On Android devices its usually as easy as connection your USB cable and running a command from the command line/terminal or have your tool run a deploy for you. For iOS devices it can take some extra steps to share your ipa install file around, have your testers drag it into iTunes then trigger synch with the device and this has to happen with each beta release. We found this workflow cumbersome and looked for a better way. We found it with testflightapp.com – a free online service that makes distribution of your iOS apps easy and comes with some other helpful features.
Once you have an account you can upload a build, be sure to always update the version number or you will get prompted to make a decision on whether to force an update using the old version number. The service allows you to enter in release notes which are great for the testers and for general tracking of releases and features. The system easily tracks multiple project application and test teams for distribution. With each deploy you can choose which team or user will get a notification of the new application version. The test end user does need to install the TestFlightApp iOS app from the AppStore or follow the link off the email/website. It’s a basic app that handles the install of your latest version of the app on the device. The test users can reply to the test email with comments and those comments will be added to the running comments for that version. You still have to create a signing certificate and provisioning file with specific devices listed, this is done up on the Apple Developer portal – so you will still need to pay for a developer license. When you invite a tester to install your beta app you receive notification from their device with its serial number uuid that you will need to create the provisioning file, so there is still some hoops to jump through but this service smoothes it all out nicely with a very clean UI.
Side note – this works with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices – I wish we could deploy our Android beta versions of our applications this way too…. maybe in a future version of TestFlightApp….