A Better Testing Process for App Store Developers

The Iconfactory's Sean Heber, in a radar filed on Open Radar:

Allow developers to add “in development” apps to the App Store. Rather than having them go through review, they simply upload builds like normal but the builds are set as “in development” which then only go to registered testers associated with the app.

In his proposal, Sean goes through the steps a possible “beta portal” for App Store apps may require. While I'm not sure about the idea of putting available development builds in the Purchased section of the App Store (if only for the poor technical performances of that section), I do believe this is a good idea. The lack of any sort of deeper App Store integration is what helped the rise of services like Hockey and TestFlight, and it seems strange that Apple hasn't done much in the area of testing development builds of apps. I would also add that it's absolutely anachronistic how Apple is still forcing developers to associate builds with device IDs rather than Apple IDs of testers (device slots are limited, and many testers have multiple devices).

I'm also intrigued by Sean's other idea – letting users pay for early access to betas:

Bonus points would be to actually allow the developer to put a price on an app – even for testers. Using a mechanism like this, the developer could gather a group of early adopters who are willing to pay for early development access – perhaps to help support the developer in their quest to build the next big game. The goal with this is to provide a way that the next Minecraft could actually happen on iOS. When Minecraft was first beginning, Notch allowed people to pay for beta “lifetime” access up front. Even when the game was barely a game or barely anything at all. That early access generated a lot of buzz and revenue for him allowing him to continue development.

Again, I'm not sure how it would work in practice, but I think the idea is fascinating and worth discussing. Imagine some sort of Kickstarter-like approach for App Store apps, managed and sanctioned by Apple, and directly controlled by the developer. The App Store needs many, more basic improvements, but this is still something Apple should consider.