Oct 15th, 2013

Developers have taken advantage of Google’s new Play Store feature that allows certain members to download different builds of an app, giving them an easy and pain-free way to facilitate beta updates for those who are brave enough to try them. Facebook was one of the first major proponents of this system, and now they’re taking things a step further — you can now be an alpha tester for the official Facebook for Android app!

Facebook Android app 1

Head of mobile release team Christian Legnitto announced the news, telling folks that their goal is to get feedback as early as possible. You’ll be treated to bleeding edge features and changes, though there are a couple of things you need to consider:

  • You may experience frequent changes to UI and features — something that’s there one day might not be there the next.
  • You should expect bugs, and lots of them. (Of course, you should expect bugs in beta and even stable, too.)

Legnitto mentions it’s “not for the faint of heart,” but Facebook wanted to give users a chance to participate in the earliest build stages to help shape future releases. Feedback will be crucial, of course, so don’t join up if you’re not interesting in submitting any.

With over 1 million daily active users from over 150 countries, the Facebook for Android beta-testing program has been successful in giving us the feedback necessary to make Facebook for Android more stable for users.

Our initial goals with the beta program were to expand our pool of testers and gain feedback across a more diverse set of devices. Our beta-testers currently use phones from over 50 manufacturers, run multiple versions of Android, and use our app in varying network conditions.

So how can you get in on it? It’s simple, really — just follow the following steps:

  1. Join the Facebook for Android Alpha Testers Google group
  2. Allow alpha downloads by clicking “Become a Tester” in the Play Store (you need to join the Google Group before becoming a tester)
  3. Download Facebook from the Play Store to update your app
  4. Turn on automatic updates (probably optional, but the app will be updated several times a week)
  5. Report problems and give us feedback by using the “Report a Problem” menu item

The Facebook alpha will take precedence over beta, so if you’re in beta you will instead be getting alpha. If you wish to leave alpha at any time, you can simply click the “Leave the test” link in the Google Play Store. Be sure to give it a try if you’re interested in seeing what Facebook is working on well ahead of time.

[via Facebook]