Since the launch of the car2go app in 2012, the product creation team at car2go gained lots of experience in how to ship app features in a structured manner across the mobile platforms.
car2go App updates – 2012 vs. 2016
When the car2go app first launched in 2012, there was no process behind the release cycle: There were new feature ideas, it was developed until at some point completed, basic tests were done and then just released. This amounted to a total of just 5 app releases in 2012.
The year after, in 2013 already 6 app updates – still always scary when the big release day loomed and all features went live on that one day.
By releasing so rarely there were just too many changes with every new app version that it was incredibly challenging to test and ship an app with decent quality. In 2014 already 8 app updates were released, still not following any particular testing and release process but this was set to change. End of 2014 the car2go app was completely rebuilt and a dedicated release process was established.
In 2015 the team shipped a total of 18 app releases (excluding hot-fixes) and in 2016 even upped the game to 23 releases while step by step launching great product changes: E.g. the feature to allow the drivers license photo recheck in Europe or the car2go launch in China.
Also, in 2016 the Mercedes-Benz vehicles were introduced into the fleet – pushing the user experience of renting a vehicle to the best in the market with only a couple of seconds until the vehicle unlocks.
How the release process looks now
The development team works with the agile framework „Scrum“ to manage the product development. The sprints run two weeks and are completed with a new iteration of the app, requiring lots of discipline and structured processes to ship the new version:
- The to be developed feature needs to be specified and aligned with all regions
- If the feature is too big for one sprint it’s cut down into manageable, independant parts
- Dependencies to other development teams clarified
- Translations for the 9 languages we support need to be incorporated
- QA and team testing session is conducted every end of the sprint to ensure best quality
- New app store entries set up, update descriptions and release letter is prepared
The release process is surely not yet perfect but it’s already a step into the right direction, solving issues the team had in the past.
Alpha and beta testing
When the iteration of the new app version is available at the end of each sprint, the alpha testing is started which runs over the weekend with a closed group of internal testers. When no issues were identified, the beta testing starts the following Monday, distributing the app to our group of beta testers.
Across all the mobile platforms are over 2000 beta testers whose feedback the team greatly appreciates. The beta test usually runs the whole week and if there is no findings again car2go then proceed to the public release the Monday after.
Staged roll out release (Android)
On Android the staged roll out feature is used allowing new versions of the app to not instantly be released to every customer but only to a percentage. During this controlled roll out phase the team closely monitors the rollout to early identify potentials misbehaviours or crashes. Only when all metrics are stable, the percentage is increased.
Advantages of releasing every two weeks
The team learnt that releasing new versions of the apps often and regularly brings the following advantages:
1. Getting feedback from customers as early as possible
One great advantage is to receive feedback from customers already on early iterations of a new feature. This gives the product creation team an indication if there should be more time invested to continue and extend the feature if it is perceived well.
2. Less issues when releasing bigger features
Since the structured process of releasing was introduced, way less bugs made it to production. More releases helped the team test the features they built more, making it easier to identifying and fixing bugs.
3. Increased transparency within the company
With every release the team informs the whole company in detail what the new features are and which bugs are now resolved. Through this everyone is up to date what is currently live for our customers.
Are you interested in joining the car2go app beta community and want to test new features early? Simple write us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will invite you!