Google adds new beta test options for Android developers

Instead of using Google+ communities for beta testing Android apps, developers can now create open and closed betas for their apps using email addresses and simple links.

Now that Google is de-coupling its Google+ product from other services, it needs to find new ways for developers to get beta software out to testers. That's because up to now, Android betas were distributed to Google+ communities.

On Thursday, the company announced two additional beta app distribution methods that programmers can use, neither of which rely on Google+.

Open betas are now handled by a simple URL. Beta testers who have the link can join with a click, allowing for large test groups. Developers can, however, limit the number of tests through the Google Play Developer Console. That's handy since URLs out in the wild can quickly propagate.

Closed betas are now supported using email addresses. Developers can manually add individual email addresses of testers or upload them in bulk via a .csv file. Testers on the list will then have beta access through a link.

The old method of using a Google+ community can still be used but the expanded choices offer beta testing opportunities to those who don't use Google+.

Both of new options rely on the Google Play Store for beta app downloads, however the apps can't be rated or reviewed on the Play Store while in a beta status.