Recommended way to test standalone app?

I’m on SDK 38 developing for iOS and Android.

What is the easiest way to test a standalone app that has complete parity with the production version? Things that come to mind are push notifications having the app icon and background location working.

I’ve read:

https://docs.expo.io/distribution/building-standalone-apps/
https://docs.expo.io/distribution/release-channels/
https://docs.expo.io/workflow/publishing/

For android, if I want a few users to be able to bang on the app…does that require a deploy to the Alpha channel or can one simply just build an APK file and follow the instructions here: https://stackoverflow.com/a/5374483/7180620?

For iOS…would that be testflight?

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