China has become the world’s second largest app economy and the market is still growing, with the number of Chinese mobile app developers nearly doubling each year. To develop quality apps that stand out from the crowd, beta testing is becoming an indispensable step in app development, as it gives developers the chance to improve their product based on feedback from real users outside the app-development team.
A flock of app beta testing services have sprouted in China to tap this rising demand. And after initial success in the domestic market, a few industry leaders are poised to expand globally.
FIR.im (short for Fly It Remotely) provides free, fast and safe beta app distribution services. The app distribution process can be completed in two steps, massively simplifying the current iTunes and Android sync models. App developers should first upload the IPA/APK to the FIR.im platform, when a short URL will be generated. Any tester who opens the URL on their mobile devices can download and install the beta apps on their iOS or Android smartphone. The upload/download process can be completed in around two minutes.
Beyond simple installation, FIR.im has also integrated a variety of features to allow the fast acquisition of a tester’s UDID, checking the status and version history of the app in real time, crash reporting solutions, privacy settings, and more.
Begun as a company focused on Chinese developers, FIR.im is planning to expand globally having releasing an overseas version at the end of last year. In addition to localizing its languages, the startup has set up multiple network centers in the Asia-Pacific and North America to facilitate stable uploading and downloading for overseas users.
When talking about competition with incumbents like TestFlight, Susan Shi, a co-founder of the company, said their service is more flexible with open API and integration of third-party apps.
Major Chinese app developers like input software Sogou, online cosmetics retailer Jumei, health service community DXY, and outbound travel service Qyer, have used the solution to try them out.
Company founder Travis Wang has bootstrapped FIR.im since 2013 as a personal hobby, from when he was still working at AVOS. He then developed the project into a startup in 2014. The number of app developers using their service has grown by more than tenfold in the past year, according to Susan Shi.
The startup launched Budhd, a Crashlytics-like crash reporting solution, at the end of last year.
The firm has pocked undisclosed amount of Series A funding recently, three months after securing millions of RMB in in angel round from Unity Ventures in April last year.
Pgyer, one of FIR.im’s competitor, also features simple steps for app beta testing. After uploading the apps, developers will get a short URL and QR code, and testers can install by clicking the URL or scanning the QR code. It is available for developers on major platforms of iOS, Android and Windows OS for free.
Launched in September last year, Pgyer has recorded over 250,000 uploads and is experiencing more than 1 million daily installs at present, company CEO Shi Rui said in a recent interview with local tech media Kuailiyu.
The company is planning to expand to overseas market with addition of a set of new updates after securing an eight-digit angel investment last year.
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