Apple’s TestFlight Takeoff Far From Faultless

The latest episode of David Smith’s excellent and oftentimes inspirational podcast, Developing Perspective, tackles the question of whether the App Store may be nearing capacity. With well over a million applications just a tap away I can certainly see the thinking underpinning Underscore’s query. However, quantity is never a substitute for quality and my philosophy is that while everything may have already been done, it can always be done better.

If you share a similar view, you too may sometimes wonder how good products seem to go backwards even when given every opportunity to evolve into something much greater. When Apple acquired TestFlight earlier this year many just hoped the folk at Cupertino wouldn’t let it fade into the ether as has happened with some other services in the past. Few were completely optimistic about the news, at best like me some were hopeful that arguably the best beta app testing platform for iOS becoming more tightly integrated with everything else Apple offers developers would come with huge benefits.

In some respects the current incarnation of Testflight is far superior to its predecessor. For instance, adding new testers to a project can now be done with just an email address, a god send for anyone familiar with the painful process of obtaining a device’s UDID. Unfortunately Apple did what only Apple would do; require all beta builds go through App Store review prior to distribution to external testers. Try as I might I fail to see the logic in this. External testers are limited to 1,000, so any possible fears of dodgy software being distributed en masse surely aren’t founded. And beyond that the whole point of beta testing is to be able to quickly get the latest versions of something into people’s hands so they can provide feedback and assist you as you continue to iterate on it. Waiting five to goodness knows how many business days for a build to be approved makes the whole thing a non-starter! 

I hope Apple rethinks this nonsensical setup as I’d love to see the back of UDIDs and just to be able to do everything in one place. For the time being though I’m still using and am very happy with HockeyApp, which incidentally was just bought by Microsoft. Let’s hope Redmond’s influence isn’t quite so disruptive.