How Apple Aims To Improve App Store Discovery With iOS 8

This story was originally published on the Applause App Quality Blog by Dan Rowinski.

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Sometimes you can’t find the app you are looking for.

A single app in Apple’s App Store is just the perfect one that you are seeking. With 1.2 million apps, it has to be in there somewhere, right? It may be a new calendar app to that syncs your iCal, Google Calendar and Outlook meetings. Or it is a messaging app that focuses on standard and proper English, eschewing the craze of emoji and emoticons endemic today’s popular communication methods. You know somebody at some point must have built this app, but it is impossible to find.

App Store discovery has been a massive problem for developers, users and Apple for the last several years. App Store search is inadequate for most people’s needs and the top lists that Apple relies upon have created a top-heavy capitalistic market that breeds poor quality apps.

Apple is not ignorant to this problem. In 2012 it spent a reported $50 million to improve the App Store and acquired app search engine Chomp to enhance discoverability. The improvements proved minimal and Apple eventually shuttered Chomp and rolled its intellectual property into iOS 6. Judging by the current discourse among the iOS developer community, Apple still has a lot of work to do to help app makers sell their wares.

Apple has some more improvements for the App Store coming with iOS 8 that it hopes will arrest the issue.

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18,796 Android Devices: Developers and Testers Worse Off?

android_fragment_transparent-264x300Apple has always prided itself on a sleak, sexy, streamlined experience. Moreover, this is one same experience that the user on his iPhone 4 in the United States may very well be sharing with that iPhone 4 in India.

Now take a look at Android. He’s kind of the sloppy guy at the wedding that decided to wear shorts and sandals. But this operating system of the Big Two has always embraced this different and defiant but sloppy lifestyle, with a customized experience on each device that’s as unique as a snowflake.

However, as of late, Android has recently taken this very un-Apple business model to an extreme. According to PC Magazine, there are now approximately 18,796 unique Android devices in-the-wild. And this number has jumped a whopping 60% in just one year from just over 11,000.

So with this proliferation of Android devices floating around, has the experience for Android testers and developers become that much more of a horror show full of challenges? We’d like to hear from you in the Comments below.

The 10 Hottest Devices for Mobile App Testing

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Image Courtesy: XING (https://devblog.xing.com/)

Testers within our community often want to know on which devices they should be testing. Concurrently, developers also want to know where their beautiful creations should be given the most love.

Thankfully we have a magical data team that can take any request we throw their way, and give us such statistics on the hottest devices requested by our customers.

We sent such a request over to our trusty data team, and magically (for me, anyways, as an English/Communications major), they came back with this list of the 10 most tested mobile devices at uTest. The criteria for this data were the devices (both phones and tablets) on which the most bugs were filed in the past 30 days. Here’s the top 10 in order of popularity:

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iOS 8 Crowding Out Fitness Apps?

This week, Apple released the latest beta of iOS 8 to developers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Among other additions, the fleshing out of the new Health App means bigHealthbook changes for developers.

Health, Apple’s centralized health and fitness hub app, in the initial iOS 8 preview was more of a shell, designed to take in data from third-party providers. In the Beta 3 release, however, it can now track both steps and calories on its own. Additionally, you can measure your caffeine intake as well as monitor a lengthy list of nutritional categories.

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Google Blows the Door Wide Open for Testers and Developers at I/O

At its annual Google I/O developer conference yesterday, Android_auto_1-520x292Google upped the ante in terms of possibilities for developers and testers alike, by moving beyond mobile into the realm of wearables and emerging technologies. Here’s some of the major areas which should get testers and devs excited.

Android TV

Google announced Android TV, which will combine live TV programming, Google Play services and Android apps, and will have cross-interaction with your Android-powered devices. Just think, that latest House of Cards episode on your Netflix queue is just a touch of your smartwatch away from being streamed to your TV.

Android Wear

This will be Google’s platform for everything wearable, including smartwatches. According to Mashable:

“Wear will integrate with Android L (Google’s new OS) and Android TV. When downloading a new app to your phone, for example, the Android Wear version of the app will automatically download onto your device. Subsequent app updates will also be automatically downloaded.”

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Testing Your Mobile Apps on the Right Mobile Devices

For four years, I have worked in mobile testing, and even since then, the mobile world has changed dramatically at a very fast pace. Nearly every month, new mobile devices are entering the market with new cool hardware and software features.

As mobile testers, we know we need to handle all those new and “old” devices in our daily work, in order to assure that the developed mobile app is running without any problems. We must be sure that the app or mobile web app runs on different devices, different networks and in many other different mobile scenarios.

One question I am always asked by other mobile testers is: On which mobile devices should I be testing my apps?

In this post, I would like to share some of my ideas on how to tackle this challenge if you’re testing on your own.

Fragmentation: Only on Android?

I bet every time people hear the word mobile fragmentation, they always think this only happens in the Android world. Yes, Android has a really big problem due to fragmentation of different vendors with different hardware and software installations as well as customized user interfaces. If you look here, you’ll see the state of the Android Fragmentation by mobile manufacturer:

Android Fragmentation

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Tester Shares His Experience from the Software Testing World Cup 2014

Tester and uTest Blog contributor Daniel Knott was a participant in last week’s Europe preliminary round of the Software Testing World Cup (STWCSoftware Testing World Cup) 2014, and recently blogged about the experience on his own blog. Be sure to check out more on the STWC, which is currently in full swing.

[Last Friday], the preliminary Software Testing World Cup competition took place for Europe. To summarize it in one sentence…It was awesome, and a good experience for software testers.

The software that was tested was a sales tool. We had the goal of testing this application on as many as possible mobile devices with different screen sizes for usability, functionality and design. Out of scope during the session was load and performance testing. Also, security testing had a low priority.

I was part of a distributed team within Europe. One guy was in Barcelona, one in Hamburg, one in Dusseldorf, and one in Wiesbaden. We organized ourselves via Google Docs and a Google Hangout session during the competition. One person (myself), was listening to the live STWC YouTube channel, where the judges were answering questions from the teams and informing my team of important information. Each of us had a special test task of where to focus on. We focused on usability, functionality, design and some security testing.

We tested the application on iPad Minis, iPhones and on different Android devices. In total, we filed 38 bugs in the provided defect management tool. 15 of the filed bugs were critical. As an example, we were able to access sensitive data of snapshots and account settings from one of my team members. Other than that, there were lots of cross-site scripting problems in the application. 9 of the filed bugs had a high priority. Here, for example, it was very easy to create internal server errors on the application backend by entering special characters to the input fields. 11 bugs had the severity medium, and 3, low. 

During the test session, we talked a lot about the current status of each team member to get an impression of the application and its problems. While testing the application, everyone on the team was very focused, but nonetheless, we had lots of fun and were laughing a lot.

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Amazon’s New Fire Phone: A Tester and Developer Playground?

To the average user, the Amazon Fire phone unveiled yesterday may be nothing more than a shopping and content-driven machine (see Kindle, Fireamazon-fire-phone-announced TV, etc.), but under the hood, there’s a lot of exciting possibilities that just opened up for developers and testers alike. Let’s take a look at two of these major possibilities.

‘Firefly”s audio and video recognition capabilities open the possibility for apps

And not only just apps, but an entire new app ecosystem. Firefly, according to TechCrunch, allows users to identify anything they hear or see in the real world using the phone’s camera and sensors, including text, movies, barcodes and music.

So not only could there could be a whole new class of brand-new apps doing brand-new things competing with Apple and Google’s app ecosystem, but existing apps could be radically different on the iOS app ecosystem versus that of Amazon’s.

A hypothetical example, if you will. I’m a movie guy, so Fandango is a popular app on my iPhone to look up movie times and information on these films. If I pointed my Fire phone at a trailer that I thought was interesting to get more information on its cast or when it was coming out, it could essentially eliminate the search engines as we know them and make Siri look like a kid’s toy.

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iOS 8 Beta 2 Now Available to Developers: A Step Up?

Apple, hot off the heels of its announcement of iOS 8 and release of the first beta earlier this month, has made available its Beta 2 of the new OSApple_iOS to developers today.

According to ZDNet, Apple has corrected some stability issues that plagued the first iteration of iOS 8 beta including crashing on launch when restored from a backup. Additionally, there are still several known issues that Apple is working on, including reduced battery life and other issues with iCloud and Keyboards.

For those that have downloaded the beta, is it more polished and stable than the first? Which areas are you hoping Apple improves upon prior to the GA this Fall? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Tips for Testers When Talking to Mobile Developers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s a good idea to keep the developer on your side.devtest

The end goal that both developer and tester share is the exact same in software quality, so if you’re a tester constantly at odds with the other side, not only will you not reach that quality zen that you so much want, but you’ll lose a lot of dev allies…and probably your credibility to the higher-ups in the process.

Since testers and developers have to play a team sport to get to this software quality ideal, especially when it comes to mobile which is here to stay, uTester Lena Houser has put together this must-see list over at uTest University of tester tips to note when talking to mobile developers:

  1. Treat devs the way they want to be treated.
  2. Do not interrupt and give them time to finish their task(s).
  3. Come prepared. Gather your evidence and facts to help build a case.
  4. Shrewdly communicate and present your findings.
  5. Do not be negative or arrogant.
  6. Testing involves a lot of ego management.

Be sure to also check out the full course over at uTest University to get all of the context behind these six steps to success when communicating with mobile developers. In the meantime, is there anything here that you’d add to the list? Be sure to sound off below in the comments.