SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook will launch a beta testing programme for Android smartphones on the Google Play store so users can help the firm build a better app.
The beta programme will give people who opt-in access to the latest versions of the Facebook for Android app, enabling the social network to diagnose bugs more quickly through feedback on new features before it releases the app to its user audience of millions.
"Our goals with this [programme] are to expand our pool of testers and gain feedback across a more diverse set of devices," Facebook wrote in a Facebook engineering blog post today.
"Just by using the app and reporting issues, beta testers will be able to help us improve performance on a wide variety of Android devices we may have otherwise been unable to test at scale."
Facebook already gets a report every time its app crashes on unsuspecting Android users' smartphones but its development cycle means that bug fixes wait up to a month for a regular update before being released. The beta programme will mean that Android users get to test updates rolled out in stages and to specific users, similar to what Facebook does with its desktop version.
"This will give us the opportunity to eliminate our blind-spots and identify a snapshot of the diversity of use cases to test our apps so when we push to our whole user base, everyone has a better experience," Facebook explained.
The social network is also creating a Facebook group as part of the beta programme to host active discussions, provide a forum for feedback, and share updates. Facebook said it will ask beta testers to report all bugs through standard reporting workflows.
"Anyone can join the beta [programme], but some might also see prompts to download the beta build in a special notification within their Facebook for Android app," Facebook said. µ