Thursday, February 27, 2014

What Apple's acquisition of Burstly means for TestFlight

Apple has purchased Burstly, the owner of the popular testing platform TestFlight, TechCrunch reported Friday. Few details about the deal were announced, and, according to TechCrunch, Apple has only said, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

The big question we at RTL have is how this will affect developers, and the answer to that largely depends on how dependant on TestFlight you are and what OS you largely develop for. As an iOS developer there largely doesn’t seem to be any immediate change aside from the shutdown of FlightPath, the analytics side of TestFlight.

The real downside to this acquisition comes if you relied on TestFlight as an Android developer, as TestFlight has said in a forum post that they’re ceasing Android support starting on March 21. This isn’t really surprising when you consider that Apple doesn’t want to support Android app development, but it will still make life more difficult for some developers. While you can always have testers and users download and install an apk, this method of distributing new builds is a lot more cumbersome than something like TestFlight.

At RTL we’ve used TestFlight with several clients on the receiving end of builds and found it to be a very effective tool. It's a bit of question mark at this point what exactly the future for TestFlight is. According to TechCrunch’s post, the Burstly engineers have already moved over to Apple, so it’s likely that whatever plans Apple has have already started. One possibility is that Apple will more closely link TestFlight and the App Store, and getting better developer tools to more developers can only be a good thing for everyone involved.

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