Last year I was on the beta test groups for both Marco Arment’s Overcast and Q Branch’s Vesper. Both testing groups were among the most active I’ve ever participated in, in large part because we used the private message-board app Glassboard for threaded conversations.
Unfortunately, Glassboard died. Fortunately, former Genius developer Soroush Khanlou has, along with some of the people who were heavily involved in those beta tests (most notably Dave Wiskus and John Gruber), come up with some new technology that tries to replicate or even improve on the experience. It’s called Backchannel, and it creates a conversation and community right inside the beta-test versions of apps.
I got to talk to Soroush and Dave about Backchannel when I was visiting New York earlier this year, and I’m glad to see the project come to fruition. If you’re an iOS developer, you should definitely check it out. There’s no doubt in my mind that active testing communities lead to much better apps.