I am often more irritated than pleased by Apple’s announcements. The notch, features that have been in Android for years being lauded as a revolutionary innovation, dropping the headphone jack…I could go on, but it would be exhausting for both of us. I think it’s important to know what I think about Apple before I move on to discussing this new TestFlight feature.
I believe TestFlight Screenshot Feedback will end up being one of the most important announcements Apple has made in the past 5 years.
What is it?
Here’s a quick demo of the new TestFlight Feedback using RateTheMeet:
Feedback is available to developers almost instantly through App Store Connect.
Testers can now send feedback directly from your beta app simply by taking a screenshot and share detailed feedback with a crash report immediately after a crash occurs. TestFlight 2.3 and iOS 13 beta or later are required. You can view and manage tester feedback in App Store Connect. Visit your app’s TestFlight page and click Crashes or Screenshots in the Feedback section in the left side navigation. You can filter your feedback view by build numbers, app versions, devices, iOS versions, or tester groups. For details on how testers submit feedback, see Testing Apps with TestFlight. For details on viewing and managing tester feedback, see View tester feedback.
Why is it important?
I hope you immediately see why I’m excited about this feature. Managing feedback from users is never a simple task. Since there was no first party flow for collecting feedback on iOS or Android, this was always some sort of custom process. Whether you would do this using a third party tool or an ad-hoc flow like email or an issue tracking system, it would be a hassle for both users and developers to manage feedback.
A first party flow from Apple means that Google Play will likely work to add similar functionality in the near future. It also means I will be driving the majority of my testing through App Store connect and recommending my clients do the same.
Providing an out-of-the-box first party solution for managing feedback will help increase app quality and reduce time spent implementing third-party solutions or handling cumbersome manual feedback mechanisms. Kudos to Apple for leading the way on this important ecosystem improvement!
Since Microsoft purchased Xamarin and ended Xamarin Evolve, there’s been a void in the community. There has been no conference for us to gather, network, learn, share and grow. That was the void Dan Siegel was aiming to fill when he created the @XamDevSummit account and sent out this tweet back in January:
People have been asking for Xamarin Evolve… well get ready for the next best thing. You might want to call it Evolve Redux… we call it the Xamarin Developer Summit. Coming to Houston in July 2019. Be sure to follow us for more updates. #XamDevSummit2019
Since founding the Toronto Mobile .NET Developers Group back in May of 2017, I have had the pleasure of interacting with the local Xamarin community. You may not have that luxury. Xamarin Developer Summit would be a great opportunity to interact with mobile developers, build friendships, collaborate and explore ideas.
Houston: Space City
In addition to all the fantastic opportunities of the conference, I’m also looking forward to checking out Houston! I’ll be aiming to get to Space Center Houston as soon as I get a chance. I’m also going to be eating as much local food as possible: chicken-fried steak, Texas BBQ and crawfish!
When testing apps, I generally use a combination of 3 tools for distribution. It’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various available tools to easily onboard testers and gather feedback.
I’ll only be touching on App Center Distribute, none of the other features. I would say that it’s worthwhile to use Microsoft App Center for the distribution features alone. There are other valuable features in the App Center product which I will likely cover in future articles.
App Center Distribute is overall a fantastic, robust tool for distribution. It’s great for small test groups and power users.
Internal QA teams
Small groups of external testers
iOS (and iPadOS – sigh) and Android
Free, don’t need Apple’s blessing to push out changes
Android apps are extremely easy to manage
Multiple versions available to test at the same time (this is big)
Uses iOS ad-hoc distribution. This means all devices you want to use to test need to be registered through Apple, and the app is packaged with a list of the registered devices and on install iOS checks to make sure the device you’re installing to is on the list. Even though you can register devices and re-package apps through App Center (really fastlane under the hood), it’s still a cumbersome process that involves manual steps from testers and admins/developers.