When Beta Isn’t Quick Enough: Facebook For Android Alpha Testers

AndroidLogo2Adventurous Android users who want to get their hands on Facebook features for that platform even before members of the Facebook for Android Beta Testers group do now have a way to do so, as the social network introduced the Facebook for Android Alpha Testers group.

Christian Legnitto, who leads mobile release engineering at Facebook, announced the Facebook for Android Alpha Testers program in a note on the Facebook Engineering page, cautioning potential participants that since they will gain access to features at their earliest stages, they will likely encounter more bugs and other issues than the Facebook for Android Beta Testers or, obviously, standard Facebook users.

Legnitto said in describing the alpha-testing program:

In the spirit of getting feedback even earlier in the development process, starting today, we’re introducing the Facebook for Android alpha-testing program. We started out with beta, as we knew it would be a good balance between testing and usability, but we’d love to get feedback as early as testers want to give it. The Facebook for Android alpha-testing program will be very similar to the beta program, but the app will be at an even earlier stage in its development.

Alpha is not for the faint of heart — features will come and go, crashes will be introduced and fixed, and designs may go through many iterations. Because we are continually testing and experimenting on alpha, the Facebook for Android app that alpha users test will look and behave differently than what ultimately gets shipped in a general release. That being said, feedback on stability and features, as well as any other performance issues you experience, is crucial and deeply appreciated.

The new Facebook for Android alpha-testing program will give us high-quality feedback very early in the development process. The existing Facebook for Android beta-testing program confirms those fixes at scale. These two programs give us the early user feedback we need to confidently provide the best app experience to everyone using Facebook.

Legnitto also provided instructions on how Facebook users with Android devices can sign up for the alpha-testing program, as well as an overview of the progress of the beta-testing program:

With over 1 million daily active users from over 150 countries, the Facebook for Android beta-testing program has been successful in giving us the feedback necessary to make Facebook for Android more stable for users.

Our initial goals with the beta program were to expand our pool of testers and gain feedback across a more diverse set of devices. Our beta-testers currently use phones from over 50 manufacturers, run multiple versions of Android, and use our app in varying network conditions.

The crash and performance reports we get from testers help us track down issues before we ship the general release. Manual bug reports from testers using the “report a problem” menu item have also alerted us to problems we might have otherwise missed because of Android’s diversity and the impossibility of testing it all ourselves.

In addition to quality reports, we get over 1,000 direct pieces of feedback from beta-testers per day, including feature requests, bug reports, and posts in our feedback group. Over 260,000 testers have joined the optional Facebook group to stay up-to-date and post feedback. Our beta-testers let their voices be heard — posts in the feedback group often have over 500 comments and over 1,000 likes.

Android users: Are you interested in becoming alpha-testers?

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