When you need to start testing your app on more than your personal device(s), you pretty much immediately run into the question: "How do I get my app on a device I don't have in my hands?". When you are a consultant, it is often the client who needs to do that deployment, and he or she is probably not an Xcode guru. Here are my thoughts on how to accomplish this deployment with minimal pain.
So Apple bought TestFlight a while ago, and, while still a great tool, it has gotten a little harder to use. There used to be no gating process when you submitted an app for distribution, but now Apple reviews the app before letting it be distributed. It's not all bad, as, once you get past the first review, you don't need to submit new versions for review unless you have made "significant changes", which Apple describes as:" Significant changes means that you’ve added or removed a major feature or functionality."
Once your app has been approved for beta testing, TestFlight is a really great way to manage your beta users. And the beta review process should help streamline the production review process when you release your app, so even that isn't all wasted time.
I highly recommend using TestFlight, but if you can't...
If you don't want to, or can't, use TestFlight, you can distribute your apps the "old way", which is called Ad Hoc distribution. In this case you manually register the target devices (up to 100 per year) in Member Center. You'll need to collect device IDs from your testers, add them to your account, and then re-build and archive so the device IDs are included in the archive. The steps are as follows:
- Create an Ad Hoc provisioning profile.
- Register all test devices.
- Update the build string.
- Archive and export your app.
- Install the app on test devices.
- Solicit crash reports from testers.
Note that once you have finished steps 1 and 2, you don't have to do them again, unless you add or remove devices.
Create an Ad Hoc provisioning profile
Register all test devices
This is really two steps:
It used to be easy to get your testers' device IDs: they simply downloaded and launched a third-party app, which detected their device ID and pre-populated it in a email. Then they just addressed the email and hit send. But then Apple hid the device ID from iOS apps, and the process got harder.
The easiest way for your users to get you the device ID is using Xcode, but how many of your testers have Xcode installed? The more likely, and only other way to get it is using iTunes, although, even there, not all users even connect their iOS devices to iTunes anymore. I never do.
Update the build string
Each version of your app needs a new build string, so iOS can differentiate it from previous versions. It is probably easiest, and certainly more interesting, to just use auto-incrementing build numbers.
Archive and export your app
Archiving is simply a different build type in Xcode. Note: save your archives, as you'll need them to symbolicate crash logs.
Exporting your app converts it into what we call an "IPA" (because it has the extension .ipa). This is the file your testers will install on their devices. Note: Xcode might bury the ipa inside a directory when saving.
Install the app on test devices
The "official", non-TestFlight way to install apps on testers' devices is to email them the app and have them use iTunes to install it. But that is a pain.
I much prefer to use a third-party service, such as diawi. With diawi, you simply upload your IPA and send a link to your testers. Clicking on that link will take your users to a web page from which they can easily install the app. And diawi can notify you when testers install the app. And its free!
If you'd like diawi to send you an email with the link, and notify you when testers install your app, look under "More options...". I WOULD PROBABLY CLEAR THE "ALLOW...' CHECKBOXES BELOW.
Solicit crash reports from testers
TestFlight automatically uploads crash reports from testers' devices. If you don't use TestFlight, they'll have to do it manually.
Add / Remove Testers
You can add new devices using either method noted above. Remove devices manually through Member Center. SHOW HOW TO ADD DEVICE TO PROVISIONING PROFILE. SHOW HOW TO GET NAME OF PROVISIONING PROFILE. HOW DOES PROVISIONING PROFILE GET CHOSEN WHEN IN AUTOMATIC MODE? DOWNLOAD AND DOUBLE-CLICK TO INSTALL PROFILE.
Hope these thoughts help you get your app into the hands of lots of testers. Let me know what I've forgotten in the comments.