Quest developers can now share access to pre-release apps, or closed betas of released apps, via URL.
Previously, Quest developers could only share pre-release apps and closed betas by whitelisting the email address associated with a person's Meta account, which requires direct communication and raises privacy concerns. Now access to pre-release apps can be shared via URL, which could for example be posted in a Discord. Developers can choose between manually approving each person who enrolls or automatically approving everyone.
There is, however, a major limitation. Only 100 total users can have access to a build channel at once, and apps not yet approved to App Lab or the Store can only have up to three build channels, eg. Alpha, Beta, and Release Candidate. That means the total maximum is 300 for unreleased apps, with each separate channels requiring a URL.
So other than for very niche or intra-organization apps, this new system can't really be used as an approval-free method of mass distribution. Developers who want to distribute a production app without Meta's stringent Quest Store requirements should continue to use App Lab, which has far less strict requirements. Pre-release app URL sharing is intended for testing.
To make it easy and convenient for testers to give detailed feedback to developers, Meta added a feature called Playtesting Feedback to the Quest system menu in update v59.
At any time, testers can use the button on the menu bar to send feedback that can include text, voice messages, video recordings, screenshots - no need to take the headset off or manually open a browser window.
Developers can see all submitted feedback on the Quest developer dashboard, removing the need for them to set up their own dedicated bug tracking system.
These new capabilities and tools will come as a welcome change to Quest developers with small but dedicated early testing communities, and could help speed up the process of getting VR and MR games ready for release.