Looks like developers are lapping up and making good use of the new features offered to developers at Google I/O last month. While small developers jumped on to the bandwagon early on, looks like even the big guns like Facebook are all set to join in.
Facebook today announced a beta testing program for its Android application that would effectively give early access to users who want to try out the latest, early releases of Facebook before general distribution to the public. New features offered to developers by Google include the ability to allow a staged roll out of the app through the Play Store.
While Facebook did launch a native Android app this year after switching over from the HTML5 app it had over the couple of years, the app has never been up to par. Apart from being slow to load it also had various other bugs and is no surprise that the app had over 10,000 one star reviews on the Google Play Store. Just to remind you Facebook is the number one downloaded app in the Play Store.
This new beta program would allow Facebook to collect feedback before a more public release.
To join the Facebook beta program one has
- Join the Facebook for Android Beta Testers Google group (note: it’s a Google group)
- Allow beta downloads by clicking Become a Tester in the Play Store (you need to join the Google Group before becoming a tester)
- Download Facebook from the Play Store to update your app
Feedback can be given to Facebook either through the Facebook for Android Beta Testers group on Facebook or there is a feedback button in the app itself.
Opening up the beta program to everyone means that Facebook can get a wider look at the app, something that is very important an Android that has hundreds of devices running different versions of Android and also different hardware specifications. Facebook has a four week release cycle and they are hoping with the help of the beta testers they could iron out most of the bugs.
As of now Facebook is offering beta testing only for its main app and not for Messenger and the Home app. Home which was a launcher replacement for Android phones does not seem to have done as well with most users abandoning it.
An interesting point to note here is that Microsoft has released a Facebook beta app for Windows Phone which actually performs better than the main app.
With more and more people switching to smartphones these days it is good to see Facebook paying more attention to app development.