Google has opened a Play Store testing program for early releases of its Maps app for Android. Starting today, if you sign up to become a beta tester, you can download and install new versions of Google Maps not yet ready for official release more easily than before. That starts with version 9.27, which doesn’t have any noticeable changes as of right now considering the app was updated to 9.26.1 just last week.
Though Google has long invited everyday Android users to join in on beta tests of popular apps and services, it’s tended to do so with a special Google Group managed online. During the company’s I/O developer conference last month, Google announced a new, more open initiative to bring those app beta programs directly to the Play Store. The company’s first app to get this style of Play Store beta was its singular Google app a few months ago.
Now you can join testing programs from the app’s listing and remove yourself easily from the same page in the store. New updates also get pushed out directly in the same manner as standard apps. Ultimately, this gives Google a solid channel to test new releases even more thoroughly than before, by tapping into the Android community’s willingness to try new software as early as possible.