Visual Studio App Center Frequently Asked Questions
Visual Studio App Center lets you automate and manage the lifecycle of your iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps. Ship apps more frequently, at higher-quality, and with greater confidence. Connect your repo and within minutes automate your builds, test on real devices in the cloud, distribute apps to beta testers, and monitor real-world usage with crash and analytics data. All in one place.
Visual Studio App Center is the next generation of HockeyApp. We’re adding continuous integration and testing to HockeyApp’s strengths in distribution, analytics, and crash reporting to create a comprehensive solution for developers to ship apps faster and with more confidence. Going forward, Visual Studio App Center will be Microsoft’s preferred solution for all your app distribution and management needs.
Visual Studio App Center is the next generation of Xamarin Test Cloud, and includes all the functionality of Xamarin Test Cloud and more. Test users have access to all the same devices and functions as they did in Xamarin Test Cloud, plus new features such as Device Sets and better APIs.
Please see our App Center Support page for details.
Visual Studio App Center is free to get started. Some of our services are completely free, and all our other services offer a free tier or a free trial.
App Center services are billed to your Azure subscription.
App Center uses virtual machines to build your code. There is a clean virtual machine provisioned especially for your build which gets discarded once the build finishes. The files uploaded for code signing and the password for the certificate are also stored securely on our servers.
Yes. While App Center prohibits uploading personally identifiable information (PII), Microsoft takes measures to ensure security across test runs by different users:
- Any apps installed during a test run are uninstalled
- All local storage is cleared from the device
- Devices are restored to their default settings
As a result, your tests and data are always running on a clean device, with nothing left over for other customers to find.
We have also created a number of pre-built integrations, including Test and Distribute build steps within Azure DevOps and automatic bug tracker integration with Azure DevOps and Github.
We currently provide Build, Distribute, Crashes, and Analytics support for iOS, Android, macOS, and UWP apps. We currently provide Test support for iOS and Android apps.
Please refer to our public roadmap for additional platforms on the horizon.
Not at all. While App Center’s services are designed to provide an integrated system, they are also fully modular, allowing you to use what you need and continue to use other services that work for you. We offer more than 200 APIs and a CLI to allow developers full flexibility in choosing the services they want and the way they consume them.
You can find our current public roadmap here. Please note that we are constantly evaluating our customers’ needs to adjust our roadmap, so please let us know what you’d like to see!
We currently support git repositories hosted on GitHub, Bitbucket, and Azure DevOps. For additional information, please see Connecting to a Source Repository.
For repositories hosted on GitHub, only Git submodules over HTTPS are supported. For repositories hosted on Bitbucket or Azure DevOps, only un-authenticated Git submodules are supported currently.
No. App Center automatically provisions secure Mac build agents in the cloud, so you can build your iOS apps from anywhere, at any time, without dependencies on a physical Mac.
To provide maximum assurance of real-word quality, all iOS and Android UI tests are run on real devices.
We currently support Appium, Calabash, Espresso, Xamarin.UITest, and XCUITest. Teams selecting a test framework for the first time, generally prefer to use the framework that is native to their platform:
- Espresso for Android apps
- Xamarin.UITest for Xamarin cross-platform apps
- XCUITest for iOS apps
Appium may be a good choice for teams with either Appium or Selenium experience or for teams with non-Xamarin apps that desire cross-platform tests.
A launch test is a simple, optional test run after a successful build to guarantee that the resulted build can launch on a real physical device. Launch tests are available to all App Center users who use the build service, and do not require any test scripting.
Testers can install the latest version of your app with just an email notification and a click on a Web link. If you have integrated our SDK into your app, the tester receives an alert if she opens the app and a new version is available for download. She can then update the app right from there.
You can also distribute your app via a public URL. If you enable the Public Download Page, anyone with the URL and whose UDID is in the provisioning profile will be able to access and download the app.
No, App Center does not have a limit for the number of beta testers or users of the app. On iOS, Apple limits the number of devices depending on the developer program, see the next question.
The maximum size for a build is 4 GB.
For distribution of alpha, beta, or enterprise builds on iOS, you do need to enroll for Apple’s developer program. There are two different programs available:
The Apple Developer Program lets you distribute your apps through the App Store and for testing purposes through ad-hoc distribution. This kind of distribution is limited to 100 UDIDs per device type (iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV).
The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is intended for in-house distribution of your enterprise or line-of-business apps without the need of collecting UDIDs. It cannot be used to submit apps to the App Store.
Please note that it is your responsibility to comply with Apple’s terms and conditions.
While all App Center Analytics data expires after 90 days, App Center Analytics allows you to continuously export all your Analytics data into Azure Blob storage. Azure Blob storage is a service for storing large amounts of unstructured object data, such as text or binary data, that can be accessed from anywhere in the world via HTTP or HTTPS. You can use Blob storage to expose data publicly to the world, or to store application data privately. Exporting the data to Blob Storage is a good choice for the case where you want to have an extended retention but not necessarily plan to access to the data very often. The data will be exported every minute and a new subfolder will be created. The data will be stored as in the format of year/month/day/hour/minute.
App Center offers two ways to export your data: standard export and custom export. Standard export will allow you to export the data with a one-click experience, using the azure subscription linked to the app. Custom export will provide you with more flexibility and the configurations will be customized in Azure.
App Center Analytics allows you to continuously export all your Analytics data into Azure Application Insights (Azure Monitor). Application Insights is an application performance management (APM) service that offers querying, segmentation, filtering, and usage analytics capabilities over your App Center event data. By adding the App Center SDK to your app and exporting the data into a App Center app-type Application Insights resource, you will get access to the following features:
- Application Insights Analytics. Use a powerful query language to analyze your raw event data and create visualizations. You can export the results of your queries into PowerBI or Excel.
- Users, Sessions and Events. Learn how many people are using each page and feature of your app, then segment by country, browser, or other properties to understand why.
- Funnels and User flows. Understand how users navigate through your app. Identify bottlenecks. Discover ways to increase conversion rates and eliminate pain points.
- Retention. Discover how many users return to use your app. Find out where and why they drop out.
- Workbooks. Create interactive workbooks that combine usage analysis visualizations, Application Insights Analytics queries, and text to share insights on your team.
Yes. If you are using Github or Azure DevOps and have sufficient permissions to configure the bug tracker, App Center can automatically create issues from critical events to speed your Time to Resolution.