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Distribute iOS apps to testers using the Firebase CLI

You can distribute builds to testers using the Firebase CLI. The CLI tool lets you specify testers and release notes for a build, and distributes the build accordingly.

Before you begin

If you haven't already, add Firebase to your iOS project.

If you aren't using any other Firebase products, you only have to create a project and register your app. However, if you decide to use additional products in the future, be sure to complete all of the steps on the page linked above.

1. Build your app

When you're ready to distribute a pre-release version of your app to testers, build a signed distribution archive. You can use your normal build process as long as you meet the following requirements:

  • To distribute your app beyond your development team, you must use either an Ad Hoc or Enterprise distribution profile.
  • If your app uses Game Center, APNs (and by extension, Cloud Messaging), or iCloud, make sure your provisioning profile uses an explicit app ID, and not a wildcard ID.
  • If you are using an Ad Hoc distribution profile, include the unique device IDs (UDIDs) of your testers' devices. As new iOS testers enroll in your test program, you will need to update the provisioning profile with their devices' UDIDs. See Register additional tester devices.
  • If you have made code changes since the last build (that is, you aren't rebuilding only to update the registered devices), update the build target's user-visible version number (Version) and unique build number (Build).

When the build completes, it saves an IPA file and some log files in the folder you specify. You distribute the IPA file to your testers in the following steps.

2. Distribute your app to testers

To distribute your app to testers, upload the IPA file using the Firebase CLI:

  1. Install or update to the latest version of the Firebase CLI (we recommend downloading the standalone binary for the CLI specific to your OS). Make sure to sign in and test that you can access your projects.
  2. In the App Distribution page of the Firebase console, select the app you want to distribute, then click Get started.
  3. Run the appdistribution:distribute command to make the build available to testers. Use the following parameters to configure the distribution:

    appdistribution:distribute options
    --app

    Required: Your app's Firebase App ID. You can find the App ID in the Firebase console, on the General Settings page.

    --app 1:1234567890:ios:0a1b2c3d4e5f67890
    --release-notes
    --release-notes-file

    Release notes for this build.

    You can either specify the release notes directly:

    --release-notes "Text of release notes"

    Or, specify the path to a plain text file:

    --release-notes-file /path/to/release-notes.txt
    --testers
    --testers-file

    The email addresses of the testers you want to invite.

    You can specify the testers as a comma-separated list of email addresses:

    --testers "ali@example.com, bri@example.com, cal@example.com"

    Or, you can specify the path to a plain text file containing a comma-separated list of email addresses:

    --testers-file="/path/to/testers.txt"
    --groups
    --groups-file

    The tester groups you want to invite (refer to Manage testers). Groups are specified using group aliases, which you can look up in the Firebase console.

    You can specify the groups as a comma-separated list:

    --groups "qa-team, trusted-testers"

    Or, you can specify the path to a plain text file containing a comma-separated list of group names:

    --groups-file="/path/to/groups.txt"
    --debug

    A flag you can include to print verbose log output.

    For example:

    firebase appdistribution:distribute test.ipa  \
        --app 1:1234567890:ios:0a1b2c3d4e5f67890  \
        --release-notes "Bug fixes and improvements" --testers-file testers.txt
    

    Testers who haven't been invited to test the app receive email invitations to get started. Existing testers receive email notifications that a new build is ready to test.

After you send out App Distribution invitations, you can monitor the status of each tester you invited—whether they accepted the invitation and whether they installed the app—in the Firebase console.

3. Register additional tester devices

When testers accept an invitation to test a build not signed with an Enterprise profile, they are asked for permission to share their device's UDID with you. If they agree, App Distribution collects the UDID from the device and notifies you by email of the newly-shared UDID.

When you receive one of these emails, update your provisioning profile wth the UDID and distribute a new build to your testers by following these steps:

  1. On the Add Devices page of the Apple Developer portal, register the new UDID specified in the email you received.
  2. Add the registered device to your provisioning profile on the iOS Provisioning Profiles page.
  3. Download the provisioning profile and use it to rebuild your app. If you are rebuilding only to update the registered devices, don't update the build number or version.
  4. Re-distribute your app from the Firebase console or CLI. If you have already distributed a build with the same build number and version, only users of newly-registered devices receive notification emails.

After you complete these steps, your tester can complete the onboarding flow and install your app.