March 20, 2018
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Using Ionic Deploy to Beta Test New Features

Matt Kremer

Ionic Deploy has opened up a new realm of possibilities by allowing you to push updates to your users instantly. The days of bug fixes sitting in Production while you wait for App Store approval are over. You can deploy bug fixes as fast as you can program them, and release new features at the speed of development.

But that’s only one part of the story. With Ionic Deploys multiple Channel functionality, you can also choose who sees what version of your app. This allows you to test out new features or split test feature variations with subsets of users.

The Benefits of Beta Testing

When we surveyed Ionic Developers, a large majority stated they aren’t doing any kind of User Acceptance Testing or Beta Testing of new features with their users. Your app lives and dies at the hands of your users, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible to start testing.

We already wrote a bit about User Acceptance Testing using Ionic View and why you should do it, but what about Beta Testing? What’s the difference?

Ionic View allows you to share a preview of your app and get feedback as you’re building it, before it hits the app stores. View is ideal for getting input from a few dozen of your most important users (decision makers, alpha testers, QA teams, etc.). But what if you want to share and test versions of your app with hundreds – or even thousands of users – at a time? That’s where Beta Channels come in.

Utilizing a Beta Channel allows you to test updates with a much larger scale of users. For instance, you can put a Toggle in your Settings page that allows any user of your app to opt-in to test new features or changes early.

Ensure Quality of your Updates (Bugs, Scalability, Performance, and more)

When you’re releasing a new feature or drastic change, lots of things can go wrong. New bugs can be introduced, regressions can happen where old bugs come back, your new feature could have scalability issues that impact the speed your users experience, and much much more.

By allowing users to opt-in to a Beta Channel, you’re letting them decide that they are okay receiving bleeding edge features where the kinks are still being worked out, and this type of user is more willing to provide you with constructive feedback.

This allows you to crush bugs and other issues before releasing to 100% of your user base, where problems can be much more severe. (When pairing a Deploy Beta Channel with Ionic Monitor for tracking bugs, this is especially powerful)

Don’t release updates that harm usage!

It’s easy to get attached to a new feature or design as app developers, and it’s quite difficult to see how a larger change could impact your users ability to actually user your app effectively.

If you’re building a workout app, like Sworkit for instance, you want to make sure that a new update doesn’t actually decrease the amount of workouts people are completing.

By utilizing a Beta Channel you can test out those changes with users and monitor their impact on usage of your app before altering the experience of everyone on your app.

This also makes it easier to decide NOT to launch something to all of your users if it doesn’t work out well. Users expect a certain experience from that app, and it’s much more difficult to launch an update to everyone, then decide to revert the change.

Split test changes to see what wins

When a user subscribes to your Beta Channel, you could even split them into multiple buckets like Beta-Group1 and Beta-Group2. This would allow you to send completely different versions of a feature to different users. One user could see a red button, and one blue, or even more complex differences like entirely different layouts.

By then monitoring usage, you can determine which option is best to send to 100% of your apps users in Production, thus increasing your bottom line much more than just a “Launch and Pray” approach.

So how do you set up a Beta Channel?

We’ve just released a full in-depth tutorial where you can follow along and learn how to implement Ionic Deploy into your app from start to finish with an Opt-In Beta Channel. It’s easy to get started, and takes less than an hour. Watch our walkthrough video or check out our Deploy documentation:

Don’t have a Pro Account? Create your free Ionic Pro Account today to get started.

Matt Kremer