Does Your Mobile App Have a Human Problem?

People using cell phones   Original Filename: people cell phones.jpgYou’ve tested every aspect of your mobile app – functionality, usability, security, performance and other types. You’ve tested it with simulators and in the wild. You think you’ve covered almost every angle and that it’s essentially bulletproof, but you forgot the biggest cause of app failure: People.

Yeah, those guys. According to PC World, nearly 80 percent of the vulnerabilities discovered in mobile apps are not the fault of the application code itself, but rather the result of human error.

According to the HP 2013 Cyber Risk Report, though, the application itself is not to blame for most vulnerabilities—you are. HP compiled data from 2,200 applications scanned by HP Fortify on Demand and reports that 80 percent of the vulnerabilities discovered were not the fault of the application code itself.

“Many vulnerabilities were related to server misconfiguration, improper file settings, sample content, outdated software versions, and other items related to insecure deployment,” the report states.

In other words, it’s not your fault! That said, there are some things you can do as testers and developers to minimize the risk of human error. Let’s take a closer look at some the causes mentioned in the article:

Encryption Capabilities
Both the iOS and Android platforms give developers the ability to encrypt data that’s stored within the mobile app. The problems is, many developers neglect to include this feature and many testers fail to account for it as well. These days, apps that do NOT store some type of personal data are the exception, so if you want to save users from themselves, it’s best to consider encryption as the default option.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Good News For Aspiring App Designers

marvel_appJust when you thought the mobile app world couldn’t get any more crowded and competitive, along comes Marvel.

The UK startup has come up with a new iPhone app that can turn the average person into a web or mobile-app designer, regardless of design and technical skill. With no coding required, users can easily turn their concept into an interactive prototype, and share it with friends, clients, coworkers, or through social media.

To the seasoned app designer, this might seem like amateur hour. But here are 4 reasons why this has the potential to gain momentum and completely alter the software design (and therefore testing) world.

1. It’s extremely easy.
Draw your screen ideas on a piece of paper, take pictures of the wireframes and use the Marvel app to apply “touch” hotspots to the image. Apply links to screens in order indicate how you would like to app to be navigated and boom – you have a touchable, interactive prototype.

“In the past, if you wanted to see your app or web designs and ideas in anything more engaging than PDFs and PowerPoints, you needed to have the skills and the time to code it into an interactive prototype,” explains Marvel co-founder Murat Mutlu. Now, all you need is this app on your smartphone.

2. It turns the average person into a designer, and reaches a wide audience.
Remember when Instagram turned the average person into a photographer? Users could process high quality photos without needing an expensive camera or experience. People who had never edited a picture before were suddenly part of the craze.

Similarly, Marvel hopes to inspire individuals to “pick up and play” with the app and attract non-designers to give it a try.

Co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, attributes the success of Instagram to its ability to appeal to a wide audience of individuals and companies alike.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Why Mobile Apps Testing is Different from Desktop and Web

download (1)Ever since the first cell phone hit the commercial market in 1983, the mobile market has rapidly innovated from a handset that weighed over 2 pounds and could only make one phone call at a time, to a modern-day smartphone that weighs barely 5 ounces and can hold enough apps to practically run your entire life. In this course, uTest guest author Anand Ramdeo outlines ten ways that testing mobile apps differs from desktop and web testing, and points out the complexities and nuances that make mobile testing a unique skill for testers.

We have witnessed transition from desktop to web and are witnessing another transition from web to mobile. Before I delve deeper into the subject – it is important to understand how testing mobile applications is different from testing browser / desktop applications. If we understand the distinction and challenges of testing mobile apps, it will be a bit more easier to tackle them.

1. Supported platforms and devices mean you have more combinations to test.

Desktop apps were usually targeted for specific platforms and it was relatively easy to access those platforms. Web based applications made it a bit more challenging by adding another dimension: browsers.

Mobile applications take complexity of supported platforms to the next level by adding devices. Ensuring that mobile apps are working on all type of devices (smartphone, tablets, and phablets) supplied by major brands (various models from Samsung, Sony, Nokia, HTC, Apple, etc.) and on all the platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, etc.) is challenging. On top of that, new devices are hitting market so often that it becomes impossible to cover all the major devices.

In the mobile world, it is important to create something on the lines of graded browser support used by Yahoo to ensure that major platforms are covered.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

How Testers Can Help Regain the Trust of Users

trustStop me if you’ve heard this before: Users are becoming increasingly uneasy with the way in which apps collect, store and share their personal information. It’s a story we’ve discussed a lot here on the uTest Blog over the years (and more recently, on the Applause Blog), but it’s a story that isn’t going away anytime soon unfortunately.

Late last week, MEF Global Chairman Andrew Bud penned a thoughtful guest post for VentureBeat on this very topic, where he argued that trust in apps is on a downward trajectory. In his view, it all has to do with personal information.

In many ways, the apps economy runs on personal information. It’s the currency – the lifeblood – and the main reason why apps can succeed with a freemium model. As Bud argues, it’s also the reason why trust is quickly declining. He writes:

What underpins this transactional relationship is consumer trust and it follows that, for the mobile industry, this should be the watchword for how mobile businesses build and retain customers.  The less confidence people have in their mobile device, the less they will use it and the apps on it. That’s bad news for everyone.

Yet for almost as long as apps have been on the market, consumers have been bombarded with stories in the press and across social media platforms that raise privacy concerns about the way apps gather and store and use personal information.  As an industry we have a long way to go.

He backs his opinion with some hard figures from a recent MEF/AVG Technologies study, which found that:

40 percent of consumers cite a lack of trust as the reason they don’t purchase more via their mobile — by far the most significant barrier. And it’s getting worse. In 2012, 35 percent named trust as an obstacle compared to 27 percent in 2011.

Second, 37 percent claim a lack of trust prevents them from using apps once they’ve installed them on their phone. Third, 65 percent of consumers say they are not happy sharing their personal information with an app.

Hard to argue with numbers like that. So what’s to be done? While Bud places a small amount of the burden on users – arguing that they should be more aware of the threats – he places most of it on the industry as whole: marketers, developers, publishers, aggregators, executives and so forth.

And to that I would add software testers.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Is the sky falling on wearable technology?

GearYesterday, the Guardian reported that one-third of wearable devices are abandoned by their users. A lot of us around the tech community have been abuzz wondering if wearables are off to a false start. Was the hot buzzword of CES 2014 just a mirage, destined for the same fate of 3D TV or is their real promise here?

Well, it may be too early to tell. Many wearables today are limited to a single function such as fitness tracking or notifications. The article argues that this is due to the primitive nature of the devices and that lack of integration or an exciting killer app has stalled the market potential. But maybe that’s just where we are in the wearables evolution.

Neither the MP3 player nor the smartphone were runaway successes until someone came in to disrupt the market and make us rethink what these devices should be. The last two rounds came with blockbuster products from Apple, the right combination of hardware and software. But the game is still anybody’s to win. The key to success will be striking the right balance between appeal and usefulness.

Wearable apps and hardware have to be unobtrusive to succeed. That means notifications and monitoring at the right time without reminding users that they’re wearing a computer. For successful growth, these apps and devices have to get out of the way of what users are doing. No one wants to think about charging their watch or glasses or syncing their fitness trackers, they have to just work.

But none of this is a surprise to most early adopters. Technology revolutions typically come out of iterative evolutions until there is that blockbuster hit. It just so happens that this time around there’s more media attention looking for the next big thing, but as developers and producers get in line to figure out what that next big thing is, there will be a couple of toads along the way. Just make sure you’re not one of them and instead delight your users. Check out our whitepaper on challenges and opportunity in the wearable space.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing