The long climb of success that apps like Snapchat have gone through isn’t without trial and tribulation, and new features are never introduced without having been thoroughly tested beforehand. If you’re interested in being on the cutting edge of upcoming additions to Snapchat, we’ll show you how to join as an active beta tester!
Sometimes, the sheer amount of technical expertise and the hours of work that belong to a dedicated development team go without notice. Even though Snapchat has hundreds of millions of active users across the world, I would venture the guess that a majority of them don’t even give a second thought to the amount of work that goes into creation and upkeep for the app that they’re using.
Nor should they have to!
The glory of having an invisible development process lies in the fact that it’s able to be so invisible in the first place. For all of its millions of daily users, Snapchat works exceptionally well, and only rarely encounters any sort of error whatsoever. Think about that for a moment. An app that immense numbers of people use every day, across a massive range of possible devices, rarely encounters any hiccups or breaks. What level of knowledge and rockstar development goes into that?
At least part of the answer may surprise you, and will also hopefully interest you…because part of that development can be yours.
The beta-testing process is just as invisible as the development process that leads to regular Snapchat updates, but it’s nonetheless important. Without significant testing, we wouldn’t have such a smooth-running application. Considering the complexity involved with the development of new features–think of those we’ve seen in 2016, alone–it’s understandable that the Snapchat team could use a little bit of help when it comes to testing them.
If you have an Android device and the Snapchat app, that help can come from you.
In the following article, we’ll spend some time exploring the beta testing process. While it can easily be romanticized on the outset (you get to see the new things before all of your friends!), the reality is that you’re turning yourself into a bug hunter. They’re digital bugs, without any of the accompanying squick factor or crunchy carapaces, but you’ll nevertheless turn your Snapchat experience into a remarkably useful testing ground.
And, of course, you’ll also get to see and play with new features before they go live.
A Primer on Beta Testing
If you’re not familiar with the beta testing process, it’s important to give yourself a little bit of understanding as to what you’re signing up for. When any type of product–hardware, software, or otherwise–is undergoing development, it’s put through several stages of testing in order to iron out potential problems, errors, or failures in design. The last of these testing stages is beta testing; it’s typically a series of final checks that will ensure a product is ready to send out to consumers.
In the case of software and apps, the beta testing process is often a little bit more transparent. When it’s open to public participation, it allows the development team to collect huge swaths of data from participating beta tests and potentially fix errors that would have cost them further development time later on in the app’s lifespan. (How often does it seem like you need to update an app every single week?)
However, because you’ll be testing an app that isn’t ready for release yet, there’s a good chance that you’re going to run into errors, glitches, and crashes that would seem utterly unacceptable to the average user. Software that’s in beta will usually have all of the planned, implemented features that you’d expect to see in the final release, but only at the end of a beta testing period will they lack that final level of polish that we’re used to seeing in the usual apps that we download.
Still interested? Here’s what you’d better be packing before you proceed:
- An Android device. Beta testing isn’t available on iOS!
- Your web browser. Part of the sign-up process is going to happen online. You can use the browser on your Android device, or work it from your computer; either is fine!
- Patience. Remember, your only reward for participating in the beta testing process (usually!) is the chance to see new features at work before they’re released.
- A love for Snapchat! Seriously, why else would you do it? With little to gain except a preview of coming updates, the only other reward is a certain amount of pride that you’ve helped to make one of the best social media apps on the market even better.
How Do I Beta Test Snapchat?
Before we delve into the process, let’s talk about Snapchat and Android. Only in rare circumstances are apps available for beta testing on iOS devices, and there’s actually a pretty sturdy context for this reasoning.
Consider, for a moment, how many different makes and models of devices are running the Android operating system. A wealth of different devices from different manufacturers–Google, HTC, Samsung, ASUS, and more–each has to be able to host and run every app that’s available on the Google Play store for Android users.
Inversely, consider how many devices are running Apple’s iOS. There are only a few–iPhone, iPad, and the various iterations of each. Because of this, not only is beta testing far less significant in the ways that it helps developers, it’s far less necessary in the first place.
Let’s forge ahead with Snapchat for Android!
Opting into the Beta Test
It’s going to require a little bit of digging on your part, but overall, getting yourself signed up for Snapchat’s beta testing program only involves using Snapchat resources. Because of this, it’s a fairly risk-free process.
- Within your Snapchat app, tap on your “Settings” icon.
- Swipe down until you see the section labeled “Advanced,” and tap “Snapchat Beta.”
- When asked for verification, confirm that you’d like to participate!
This is only the first step, however. We’ve got two more hurdles to leap before you’re ready to start delving into yet-unreleased Snapchat features!
Next, we’re going to head online and knock out the next part of the opt-in process. There are two ways that you can go about it:
- On your Android device, head to the Snapchat Google+ page, where you’ll find an opt-in link that optimized for your Android device.
- If you’re using your computer’s browser, follow the link to this Snapchat opt-in page, instead.
No matter which one you use, you’re required to log into the same Google account that you’re using on your Android device; the very same one that you just used in the Snapchat app to signify that you’re ready to start beta testing.
We’re almost done, folks! Just one part of this painless process left, and you’ll have your beta access.
If you followed the instructions above perfectly, you’ll be right back on your Android device. Even though Snapchat will have asked you to uninstall and reinstall the application, this isn’t always necessary. Some beta testers have opened up the Google Play store to see the updated, beta-enabled version of Snapchat waiting for them. Either way, update or reinstall Snapchat to proceed to the next step in this process…which is also the final step!
- Head back to Snapchat’s “Advanced” section in the “Settings” menu. Here, you’ll now find a list of the available beta features in this release of Snapchat.
- Enable or disable beta features that you’d like to test. Note that not all beta features can be enabled or disabled, but most can.
From here on out, you’ll be an official, registered, Snapchat beta tester! Until you decide that you’d like to opt-out of this service (also accessed from the “Advanced” area of the “Settings” menu), each update of the Snapchat app will carry with it the upcoming features that aren’t ready for release.
While your testing will automatically provide feedback to the Snapchat development team based on your usage of these unreleased features, it can never hurt to head to the Snapchat team’s web page, and drop them a line with some of your more extensive feedback about the parts of the app still in beta testing.
While beta testing may not seem like it has any immediate reward, it’s worth giving a try anyway! After spending a few weeks, or even a few months previewing new features that other Snapchatters may not even know about yet, you may find yourself surprised by just how enjoyable it can be to stay at the forefront of one of social media’s most important apps as it grows. Comparatively, Snapchat also makes beta opt-in remarkably easy; with only a few steps to the process, there’s not much of a reason not to give it a try, if it interests you.
Of course, there’s also an element of surprise to it. With new updates and features rolling throughout the year, Snapchat is a fluid, evolving platform that will almost always have something for you to test. If you’ve chosen to join in as a beta tester, let us know how you’re enjoying it in the comments below!