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Regarding the new Staged Rollouts and Beta Testing capabilities of the Developer Console. Are things about to get super confusing for us bloggers when we report on app updates, new apps, changelogs, screenshots, and version numbers?

For example, Yelp released an update today https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yelp.android.

The date changed to today.
The changelog got updated.
The screenshots now differ from the app I have installed.
But none of my (or other +Android Police editors' like +David Ruddock) devices see it as an update.

+Ellie Powers, can you please help us understand what we can expect? And are there any signs/badges/ways to tell that we're looking at a staged rollout or a beta app?

Thank you. 
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David Coiner's profile photoSebastian Gorgon's profile photoBen Williams's profile photoArtem Russakovskii's profile photo
11 comments
 
The developers of the apps need to be responsible for relaying the release information to the users on their app page. If they are not google might have to implement a feature where the apps are tagged as having betas or staged rollouts. I would hope the developers would be responsible enough but unfortunately some seem to not even know what a changelog is.
 
Staged rollouts is a stupid feature... I'll just end up downloading the apk, waiting is not something I do +Ellie Powers 
 
+Sebastian Gorgon But depending on the type of app having staged rollouts from small developers with limited resources could keep an app from breaking immediately if the backend cannot scale as quickly as needed.  Be aware that 99% of Android users will never know there was a staged rollout.  I am pretty quick with checking my updates but most everyone I know maybe updates their apps once a week or even longer.  There are those of us that want that certain update yesterday but Google and the developers have to deal with the masses at large and that is why staged rollouts is the furthest thing from a stupid idea.  But, Google lets us sideload easily for the less impatient (you know us) 
 
+Sebastian Gorgon +David Coiner not only that, but this is also good for bug fixing: It happens frequently that an app gets an update, then within the day you get another to fix some issues. With staged rollout they can test with a small percentage of all users, get the feedback, then if it is all ok make a global rollout, reducing the complaints and low ratings.
 
Thanks to all for the feedback. Staged rollouts has been a major request from developers which is why we've implemented it. As with web sites, sometimes a change should be rolled out all at once and other times there will be reasons why it will be rolled out gradually. It's up to the developer to change the information (description, screenshots) when they think it's relevant and if they want to they can mention that they're testing new features. In many cases, the developer may roll out quickly over a short period of time and will want to update the listing immediately. If they're only rolling out to a small proportion of users over an extended period of time, they may want to wait on updating the description and screenshots. As more developers and users get used to this model, we'll listen to your feedback and consider making tweaks to how it works. 
 
I can certainly see why this was a requested feature, and i don't have a problem with it as a whole, i have a problem with Google using it, i had Hangouts immediately while my brother had to wait 3 days. 
 
+Ellie Powers Thanks for your clarifications and feedback. So there's no parity between APK versions and descriptions, screenshots, changelogs, etc? What about version numbers? It's paramount for us to be able to reliably identify if an update we're seeing is staged, limited beta, or available widely. I hope you understand our concerns as both bloggers and users - lack of clarity will result in user confusion and unhappiness, I can tell you that right now based on my past observations.
 
+Sebastian Gorgon That's a silly argument. App developers want to test with a small subset of users to make sure the update isn't borked, or roll out the update slowly so that their servers can keep up, etc. Carriers do the same with OTAs already. Now that Google developed the capability, why does it matter if it itself is using it or not? It's there, and they think that's the best way to roll out updates.
 
All there needs to be is a simple indicator that an update is being staged or whatever. Could be a banner across the top of the Play Store on Android, like the one that says your phone isn't compatible, saying the recent update is being staged.
 
I can see some of the reasoning behind it, but it still sucks because I still haven't gotten my Google Plus Music or Google Calendar updates :/
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