Readfeed graduates from Google Play’s Early Access beta program & offers some learnings

Guest post by Rajiev Timal, Founder of Readfeed

Readfeed was created to help book lovers around the world share and discuss
their favorite reads with each other more easily. Today, we are excited to
officially launch the href="">Readfeed
app on Google Play. As one of the first online book clubs available only on
Android devices, Readfeed lets you create your virtual bookshelf by adding books
to custom lists, track and share your reading progress with community members,
and see what books others are reading and talking about.

Readfeed has come a long way since we first released the app as beta in Google
Play's Early Access program. As one of the first graduates of the beta program,
we were able to solicit feature requests, identify bugs, locate new and optimize
existing target markets, as well as build a sizable reader community. This
allowed Readfeed to deliver the best possible experience right out of the gate.

As a guest on this blog, we thought it would be helpful to share some important
best practices that we learned from the Early Access program to improve your
products and scale your user base.

Harnessing Feedback Loops

One of the core principles underlying the construction of any successful product
is setting up an effective feedback loop between users and product creators.
Google Play Early access does this automatically. Users show up (sometimes
seemingly out of nowhere), install the app, and leave feedback in the Beta
Feedback section of the developer console. We can then reply in that section or
take the conversation into an email, address the issue, and email users when
it's addressed. Many improvements to Readfeed have been made as a direct result
of this process.

Identifying New Target Markets

One major benefit of Early Access was that it gave us immediate access to a
worldwide audience of readers. We were able to quickly assess the different
book-related markets that existed based on user feedback and interviews done
through email. Since launched in beta, over 1000 people have asked to read free
books. Apparently this need exists in third-world countries and we plan to add
this functionality in a future release.

Identifying Bugs

Bugs plague any app in its early stages. Because of the variety of devices that
Early Access users have, ranging from Android 4.2 rooted devices to the latest
Nexus phones, we were able to identify bugs very quickly. For instance, on
Android 4.2 there was a recurrent crash which was tough for me to identify with
my own devices. After one user emailed me about it, I was able to gather enough
information to resolve the issue and put out an update immediately.

Identifying New Features

Google Play Early Access made it a lot easier to determine what to do next. When
about 10 people request a feature, we know it's immediately important and put it
in the app. One feature that came directly from Early Access feedback was the
ability to rate books without leaving a review.

Community Building

Early Access has allowed us to start building a community. For instance, a
Software tester from the UK who likes books sent me a detailed analysis of all
of Readfeed's bugs. Also, we've witnessed many people take the initiative and
answer others' questions about the app. Because of the critical mass that Google
Play Early Access helps you build, it's easy for communities to form and start
sharing information with each other.

A/B Testing

We now have enough users to A/B test certain parts of the app and get
statistically significant results. This is something that usually takes a long
time to achieve.

There are many other ways Google Play Early Access have helped us, and we're
thankful that Readfeed has had the opportunity to be a part of the program. I
can say without reservation that our current and future product would be in a
very different place had it not been for our inclusion in Early Access.

Get Involved

If you are a developer getting ready to launch on Google Play, you can nominate your app or game to be part of Early Access. Learn more here.

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