A couple months ago at its I/O conference, Google announced an effort to make it far easier for Android users to download beta software from the Google Play Store. Previously, downloading still-in-development software required joining a Google Group or side-loading an app completely outside Google Play.
But a little over a month ago, Google rolled out a new Early Access section of the Play Store. It's a central spot where users can browse and install apps and games that aren't quite ready for official launch. There's even a "beta" tab next to the list of apps you've previously downloaded to help you keep track of what's pre-release software and what's not. Google's own apps are included in the program.
At the start, Google's Early Access was invite only, with the company hand picking which third-party developers it wanted to feature. Starting today, however, Google will allow developers to "nominate" their apps and games for inclusion in Early Access. And you'd probably want to be included as a developer! Google says beta apps have been installed over 1 million times since Early Access debuted. It's yet another way to try stirring buzz around an app or game. And at the very least, having a larger pool of people test an app should result in more bugs being crushed before it's rolled out to all Android users. You can nominate an app or game through this rather simple application form directly from Google.