How to test an app with TestFlight ?

Written by on Tuesday, December 6th 2016

How to test an app with TestFlight ?
Article updated 03/16/2020


TestFlight is a free solution provided by Apple to test an iOS app before it is released on the App Store.

It's an alternative you may consider if testing your app with the Ad Hoc version or with My GoodBarber App is not an option for the project you're working on.

From what I saw so far, TestFlight can be useful for some resellers when making iOS apps for clients.

The process is quite simple.

1/ you upload the app to App Store Connect
2/ you send an invite to those who are going to test the app
3/ they test the app using the TestFlight app

Nonetheless, there are a few things to consider.
How to test an app with TestFlight ?

Upload your app to App Store Connect

With TestFlight , people are testing the production version of your app.

As a GoodBarber user, it means that you are going to make them test the binary file you retrieve from your GoodBarber backend at the end of the submission process, not the ad hoc version. Do you see the difference?

In other words, in your GoodBarber backend, you go until the end of the submission process to download the .ipa file to be uploaded to App Store Connect.

Use "Transporter " (which has replaced Application Loader) to upload this file to your App Store Connect account, just as you would do if you were to publish it on the App Store.
How to test an app with TestFlight ?

Invite users to test

Once your .ipa file has been uploaded to App Store Connect, you can invite users to test your app. There are 2 types of testers you can invite

Internal testers

Those are your App Store Connect users. Unless it's people of your team or people who have been given an access to your App Store Connect account, there are a few chances that you're going to invite internal testers to test one of your projects.
If you do, note that you can invite only 25 internal testers per project.

External testers

No need to have an App Store Connect account to be an external tester. You can invite anyone you want, up to 10,000 external testers per project.


When you invite external testers, Apple will review your app and give an approval to allow external testing.

That's the reason why you'll have to provide some information to the Apple review team about your app: what's the purpose of the app, what do you want people to test, and who Apple can contact during the verification process if needed.

Enter the email of the external testers and add the build to test. 

As soon as your build has been approved for beta testing, you'll will receive an email from Apple to notify you.

For testers to be able to start testing your app, go back to App Store Connect and click the Send Invites button under Prerelease for the app.

Download the TestFlight app and test

Invited testers will receive an email with a link to test your app. To be able to test, they will first have to download the TestFlight app.

After accepting the invitation, they will be directed to the TestFlight app and they will be prompted to install to app to be tested.

The app will appear on the phone's springboard (marked with an orange bullet), and also in the TestFlight app.

When started, a test session lasts 90 days.

After that period it's no longer possible to test the app, unless you upload another build and you start a new round.
How to test an app with TestFlight ?

Pro & cons as conclusion

I personally prefer to test apps with the ad hoc version than TestFlight, even if TestFlight has some interesting advantages.

Ad hoc
- pro : no need to create a record in App Store Connect to jump into the testing phase

- pro : no need to have an active GoodBarber subscription to build the ad hoc version, it can be done during your trial of GB

- pro : no validation needed to have anyone testing your app

- con : you need to get the UDID of the tester before you build the ad hoc version

TestFlight (speaking only if used with external testers)

- pro: no need to have the UDID of the testers to produce a test version

- con: you need to create a record in App Store Connect, but, at the end of the day, you will create one anyway to publish your app

- con: a validation is needed to have external testers test the app. 

- con: no clue about how long it takes to review. As I write this post, it's more than 24h since I requested the approval for one of my apps. No approval received yet

- con: testing is time-limited


I suggest resellers to look into TestFlight instead of the Ad Hoc version when they are concerned about the dialog mentioning ssl.goodbarber.com when their users install the ad hoc version.

Since the .ipa is served over SSL from our servers, there is no way to hide this dialog. Otherwise, I recommend our users to use the Ad Hoc version to make their tests. 

To go further, here is the exhaustive documentation to App Store Connect .

 

Note: Last June, during WWDC 2019, Apple shared some news regarding TestFlight. 

Testers can send feedback from TestFlight by taking a screenshot and putting an annotation.
More info here https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=testerfeedback

The updated version of TestFlight features support for Dark Mode for the first time, allowing users who have Dark Mode enabled in iOS 13 to see a dark view of TestFlight rather than the standard light mode.

 





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