iOS app developers face a perilous future when they rush their product to market without adequate beta testing. In Part 1 of How to Become an iOS Beta Tester, we discussed ‘Why and How’ to become a beta tester. Today we’ll look at the ‘Qualifications and the Work’ of a beta tester. Finally, we’ll talk about the need for secrecy. As I researched the various sides of beta testing, I thought about the United States space program which is now in jeopardy. We’ll see why this is relevant to iOS beta testing as we continue in Part 3.
Qualifications of an iOS Beta Tester
Some of the major developers do their primary beta testing in-house. Game developers such as Activision and Gameloft are a examples. However, many of apps available for the iPad, iPod and other idevices are made by independent producers who do not have the staff nor budget to beta test entirely in-house. Therefore, they rely on their user-base to help them work out the bugs in their apps. If it’s a new app, the developer may make a broad appeal for testers. Those with programing skills may be helpful but not necessary. Often it’s best to have people who think like a user to beta test apps. Users are not particularly concerned about how an app is supposed to work, but how they expect it to work. The most important qualifications of a user/beta tester is first, an understanding iOS hardware. For example, iOS processors are not as fast as Mac processors, so one cannot expect the same performance. Also, iOS development is still young, and developers are constantly learning new techniques. Knowing that, a good beta tester will be both helpful, patient and understanding in their work with developers.
The Work of a Beta Tester
The primary work of a beta tester is to break the software. They are to push the app to and beyond its limits. They are to push buttons, swipe, pinch, tap and otherwise use the app in ways expected and unexpected. I guarantee that once the product hits the app store, some users will intentionally or unintentionally do something to the app for which it was not intended. If you, as the tester have done your job, you will have alerted the developer of those possibilities. The beta should be thorough in reporting bugs. ‘The app crashed’ is not sufficient for the developer to know how to fix the problem. Explain in detail what you were doing that lead up to the crash. Finally, be courteous. Snarky remarks are not welcome by developers, especially after they have spent a sleepless night staring at lines of code.
Our next installment of ‘How to Become a Beta Tester’ asks the question, ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’