PBS to develop new iOS app, reaches out to existing users for early access to pre-release versions of new app
App description for update invites PBS iPad app users to sign up to participate in a beta test program
The testing of new apps is a pain, especially when the apps are complicated, more than just a collection of images. Not surprisingly, the launch of a new app is quickly followed by a series of app updates as the developer attempts to work out bugs.
To avoid this, developers often allow a select group of people live with their apps for a while, using such services as Apple’s TestFlight beta testing service. The services allows a developer to invite up to 1,000 beta testers to use an app. Those on the list receive an email invitation that download the app, and a follow-up email every time a new version is available. (Here is Apple’s page for TestFlight.)
Generally speaking, only a small group of beta testers is usually employed, but there is no reason why a developer can’t max out the pool of testers by compiling a list of 1,000 testers.
That is what PBS apparently has in mind. Their app update, just released, asks users for help in testing a new iOS app, directing them to www.pbs.org/earlyaccess. When the user goes there they complete a form that starts with the email address (since that is the most important piece of information), as well as asks them what their local PBS station is, who there internet provider is, how often they use the existing app, and what mobile devices they own.
TestFlight was acquired by Apple with the purchase of Burstly in February of this year. The services allowed for testing of early apps for both iOS and Android – shutting down the Android service once acquired was one of the first things Apple did.