Facebook is inviting early adopters to join its Facebook for Android Alpha Program, in order to test out new features and interfaces for the Android platform, promising multiple and frequent updates per week.
Beta is not cutting-edge enough for Facebook users, it seems, as the social network has launched a public Alpha program for Android users. With the Facebook for Android Alpha Program, users on Google’s popular smartphone and tablet platform get the chance to preview features and functionalities that Facebook will release even before it hits the Beta program.
On the Google Groups page for the program (membership required before access), the developers advise that participating is not for the faint of heart: “features will come and go, crashes will be introduced and fixed, and designs may go through many iterations.” However, users who are are keen on testing cutting-edge features and new functionalities for the social network’s mobile platform might want to have an early glimpse into what the development team has in store.
“The Facebook for Android alpha testing program will be very similar to the beta program, but the app will be at an even earlier stage in its development,” said Christian Legnitto, who leads mobile release engineering for Facebook.
Participants would have to enable their Alpha tester status on their Google Play accounts. Additionally, one will need to un-install the stable release of the Facebook app. Enabling automatic updates will mean users get a fresh version of the app about thrice per week, as the team releases new features.
Legnitto cautioned that alpha testers “will likely encounter more bugs and other issues than the Facebook for Android Beta Testers or, obviously, standard Facebook users.” However, this program will provide an invaluable source of feedback and real-world testing scenarios for the mobile development team. Depending on feedback and performance, these features will eventually make their way into the beta and then the general-release version of the app.
Unfortunately for users who want both stable and alpha releases to co-exist on their mobile devices, this is not possible (unlike apps like Imo, which offer separate stable and beta releases of their app on Google Play). But for the adventurous, this might be a good way to try out features before everyone else enjoys them.