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Problems at Home: Facebook opens alpha testing to world+dog

Social network opens Android app testing to public, snubs own OS

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Facebook is recruiting adventurous fanbois willing to become alpha testers for the next version of its Android client.

The social network warns that the process "is not for the faint hearted" as features will be altered "several times a week" and the app's stability will be deliberately rocked during tests, but it's the ideal download for Facebook fans who find the existing beta testing programme just isn't cutting bleeding edge enough for them.

Facebook's beta testing program has been running since June, and has (according to Facebook) been hugely successful in providing early feedback on modifications to the app. Yet, according to the social network, that feedback hasn't come in early enough, which is why the alpha testing programme is being made available to world+dog.

"Alpha is not for the faint of heart - features will come and go, crashes will be introduced and fixed, and designs may go through many iterations," said Facebook engineer Christian Legnitto.

Facebook is struggling with mobile, especially as ever more users switch from ad-rich desktops to mobes and fondleslabs, which aren't bedecked with the panels of advertising Facebook needs to keep the lights on. Making mobile users pay, one way or another, is critical to the future of the network.

Real Facebook fans will, of course, have already submitted to Zuckerberg's mastery by installing Facebook Home, the Android app which subsumes fandroids' entire shell into the social network. But Home only works a minority of phones, and the drive to improve the existing client can be taken as proof (if proof were needed) that Facebook Home has yet to change the world.

Those interested in quality testing for Facebook will need a Google+ account, so they can sign up to the testing group. Naturally, wannabe testers should brace themselves for buggy software which might, or might not, change how they view social interactions – or, at least, display more a lot more advertisements. ®

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