Apple Working On Beta Testing Program For iPhone Apps [Update: False Alarm]

Since its launch, the App Store has been a huge success, offering over 900 apps, and already several million downloads in total. However, Apple’s app distribution system does have one inherent flaw. Currently there is no way for a developer to give free access to a paid app for one specific iPhone, which leaves them with no way to beta test apps without pushing it as an update to all users.

Twitterific developer Craig Hockenberry explained on his blog:

“The big problem here is that the only way to install software on an iPhone or iPod touch is with the App Store. There are also no provisions for beta testing┬┐ The only way to ?test? a fix is to release the changes to tens of thousands of users. It?s the developer equivalent of playing Russian roulette.”

Now the Washington Post claims to have word from a developer that Apple is working on a beta testing program. He didn’t offer many details, but he did say that Apple seems to be capping developers to 100 beta testers per app. To download a beta app, users must submit their iPhone’s serial number to the developer, who then flags its eligibility in the store. Apps will still then be distributed through the App Store.

It also sounds like developers who haven’t had their app approved by Apple for submission to the App Store will still be able to participate in the beta program as well, which may help to calm some concerns about being accepted late.

Update: It looks like their source was misinformed. What they were referring to was just the Ad-Hock distribution program that was discussed at WWDC and afterward. Sorry for the mixup everybody.

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