How to send Test version over the Air (OTA)

Testing forms an important part before deployment of the app. The testing for an iOS device is different from that of the Android devices. For an android application the apk file can be sent to the testing team and they can test the application. But for an iOS application the IPA cannot be sent. Usually the System is connected with the device and run directly so that the testing can be done with the same.

This process is easy when testing team and development team are nearby. When the testing team is remote this forms a problem. We came across a situation where we have to work with the remote testing team. First option we had was Internal Tester. We had to rule out this option because we are using it to send the application to the client. We don’t want complicate the process by including the testing team, removing the clients and keep the looping process. There is a chance of client mistakenly getting the app to be tested and it will result in the chaos.

So some of the options we are left with are the XCode, OTA, testfairy, Hockey and Beta. Among these Testfairy, Hockey and Beta are time consuming. Xcode – server method is  where a system is added as server. But the problem with that is you need the device to be connected with the all the time. This becomes another issue if you are testing multiple devices and mutiple products. But OTA is time consuming for setting up once, after updating won’t take much time. Another reason for choosing OTA is that the clients have preference in Testfairy and other services, so we choose OTA as our internal method to test the app.

When we decided to go for the OTA (Over The App) process. As the application we are developing have to be in a secured space, we wanted to load the IPA in our own internal server rather than in a external server. We had another issue cropping up. The issue was with our internal server. As the internal server has issue of https with Qnap. To address this issue we went on with the IPA in server and Plist in dropbox. This process will be explained in the following steps.

First of all the IPA was generated. After that get the link of the IPA and add in the plist. Once the plist file is generated, place it in drop box. Now get the link from the dropbox and construct an itms link with the dropbox link. You can send the itms link to the testing team to use the file for testing. This setting up is an one time process and for further changes and the updates you just replace the IPA file is the already uploaded path. The testing team in the remote can fetch the updated file with the same link path.

A sample itms link is given below.

itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=https://myWebsite/myApp/myApp.plist

itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=<Dropbox URL>

By this way solved the issue of testing of iOS apps with the team in a remote location.

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Yogesh
iOS Team Lead,
Mallow Technologies.

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