There are several options for over-the-air distribution of in-progress apps to internal testers. For Android, you can start simple with a link to the APK on a web site, but this misses the benefits of the Google Play store: automatic updates, consistent store listings, crash reports, support links, etc. Fortunately, we now have Google’s new Private Channel Distribution: a protected area for distributing apps as they develop and get ready for the larger “real world” of public distribution.
The service is easy to use, but does require a few setup steps:
- You must be a Google Apps user with administrator access. If you don’t already have it, sign up and pay the man.
- You must be registered as a Google Play developer with an account belonging to your Google Apps domain. Here again, sign up and pay the man.
- Sign into your Google Apps Console and enable the Google Play Private Channel. The process changed again recently with the new admin console, but you can find the latest instructions here.
- Log in to the Google Play Developer Console and create, configure, and publish your app. Check the box under Pricing & Distribution – Restrict Distribution.
To install, add your Google Apps account to your phone (for example, Play Store – menu – settings – Account – Add Account – OK – Existing). You should then see the private apps for your Google Apps domain under Apps – Categories (this, too, has changed recently).
You can use the Recent changes section of the app listing to describe updates to testers, and include a link to a video walk-through. Perhaps soon WebEx’s Android app will provide mobile screen sharing for live demos; until then Android Screencast works well with WebEx PC desktop sharing. It’s not as nice as Reflector, but it is free and lightweight.