Apphance – Improved Android Performance and Stability

Android LogoA little while back, we released new iOS libraries for Apphance, our mobile quality tool that makes it easy for mobile app developers to understand how their apps are working across a wide range of mobile devices, carriers and locations. Today we’re pleased to announce a big update for the other half of our users with version 1.9 of our Android SDK.

Our focus for this Android update has been to improve the stability and ease of use for our pre-production library. We wanted to make the library easier to install while having it be less intrusive on the rest of the app. We’ve made some dramatic improvements, however in doing so we’ve also had to break backwards compatibility with previous versions of the pre-production library.

The good news is that if you’re using Android for Apphance, you’ll only need to make a few changes to your code to update to version 1.9 of the pre-production library. The changes are minor, and the overall effect is to dramatically simplify your manifest.xml file. An experienced Android developer should be able to update to the newest SDK in just a few minutes. We’ve published easy step-by-step instructions here. (And if you’re not able to update right now, don’t worry. Our platform will continue to support version 1.8.3 for the foreseeable future.)

Here are a few of the bigger improvements we’ve made:

Simpler Manifest File

One of the biggest sources of confusion for developers adding Apphance to their app for the first time was the number of changes they needed to make to their manifest.xml file. We’ve heard that concern loud and clear and our new approach significantly reduces the number of modifications developers need to make when using the pre-production library. A developer new to Apphance should find it much easier to include it in their app, and existing developers will appreciate Apphance’s smaller footprint.

These changes will also help developers making the switch from the pre-production library to the production library. With a cleaner manifest.xml file, developers will find the switching process far simpler and less prone to error.

More Options for Memory Handling

Memory handling on Android can be confusing for even the most skilled developers, and even though Apphance has a relatively small footprint, developers have asked us for more options for controlling its memory usage. With this new update, developers have the option of running Apphance in the same memory footprint as the rest of their app, or spawning a new block of memory dedicated to Apphance. More details are in the Apphance documentation.

Maven and Gradle Support

Over the past year, Google has begun migrating users away from the traditional approach for including external libraries in favor or Maven and Gradle. For example, Google’s new build system, featured at this year’s I/O conference, favors Gradle for adding external libraries. Meanwhile, many of our developers have asked us for better support for Maven. With this new update, we’re now offering both our pre-production and production libraries with Maven and Gradle configuration instructions. If you would like to use either of these  systems, you can find instructions on our Android installation page.

Wrap-Up

In addition to these changes, we’ve also made many minor updates and fixed numerous bugs. We’re excited about this new version and think it represents a big step forward for our Android users.

To get started with the latest version of Apphance for Android, download the Android SDK from the Apphance help topics. And if you’re updating from a previous version, make sure you check out our migration tutorial. To see what version 1.9 looks like in a sample application, check out our updated HelloWorld example app.

If you’re interested in learning more about Apphance, check out the Apphance homepage or watch this quick introductory video.

The Apphance developers are not done. More new features are coming very soon, and we have some exciting stuff cooking. Have a great idea for our future product releases? Drop us a line and tell us what you think.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

iOS v. Android: [Surprising] Crash Data by Version

We all know that developers love iOS but it’s interesting to read that, based on a study from earlier this year, iOS crashes MORE than Android per app launch.  Of course, iOS 5.0.1 accounts for 28%+ of the total crashes, which certainly skews the numbers.

A few important excerpts to note:

…Many people apparently take their time updating their iPhone software or never update it at all.

…People often don’t update their apps–just as they don’t update their operating system. (Android, unlike iOS, allows users to auto-update their apps, which can eliminate some of the problems.)

The very top Android apps are achieving a crash rate that, at least in this time period, the best iOS apps can’t match.

Interestingly, when we crawled 250,000 apps across iOS and Android we found that the average app store rating for Android and iPhone was 3.58 and 3.56, respectively – nearly identical.  The larger gap is that Android users complained more about performance and crashing than iPhone users.  Then, in March, we tested the SXSW App across iOS, Android, Windows and RIM and we found that iPhone & iPad had the highest overall scores and the best Application & Performance data.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

uTest Infographic: Which Android Devices Make App Users Smile?

Do you play a lot of games on your SEMC Xperia Play? Are you a news junkie with an LG Optimus 2X? How do sports apps work on your Samsung Infuse 4G? Ever get frustrated with the music app on your HTC Thunderbolt? In our newest uTest Infographic we let the Android Market app reviews do the talking to find out which devices reign supreme (and which fall flat) in the  major app categories.

uTest Infograpich 2012

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Testing the #SXSW Mobile Apps (iOS vs. Android vs. Windows Phone vs. RIM)

For the second year in a row, uTest will be making an appearance at SXSW, the world-famous music/film/interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Unlike last year – where we spent most of our time eating, drinking and schmoozing with storm troopers – we have  some new, big plans in store.

The obvious difference is that we’ll be cruising around Austin in the RVIP Lounge, hitting up hotspots, giving rides, singing karaoke (poorly) and playing host to SXSW attendees throughout the week. More to come on that, but you can follow @InTheWildTest for deets on our adventures, and real-time locations if you’re at SXSW..

The other difference is that, instead of just talking about the merits of in-the-wild testing, we decided to show a real-world demonstration. So, over the last 36 hours, we assembled a select group of US-based testers to put the official SXSW mobile apps through their paces. In-the-wild testing means live testers, real devices, imperfect connectivity… basically, true real-world conditions. So we went to work testing SXSW’s official apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. For iOS and Android, we also included tablet testing, to bring the comparison total to six.

Below are some top-level results (note that each category ranged from 1-5):

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% of Total Bugs 17.7% 18.3% 18% 6.6% 23% 16.4%
Overall Score 4.1 4.0 4.6 4.7 3.8 4.2
Usability & Design 4.2 4.1 4.6 4.8 4.1 4.2
Features & Functionality 4.1 4.1 4.7 4.7 3.2 3.9
Application & Performance 3.3 3.2 3.9 4.0 3.5 3.7

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Of course, these figures only tell part of the story. As the apps were tested in terms of functionality, performance, design, connectivity and other factors, several issues popped up on more than one occasion. Here were a few areas where some notable bugs were uncovered:

  • Incorrect time displays
  • Sync issues with registration and deleted items
  • Crashes on various tablet OS versions
  • Issues with installation
  • Social media integration
  • Issues with rating and uploading photos

It should be noted that despite these issues, the overall reaction from our community was positive for each of these applications. In fact, the overall ratings you see above are substantially higher than the industry norms, so kudos to the respective dev teams.

Anyway, if you’re at SXSW and want to learn more about In-The-Wild Testing, be sure to stop by the RVIP Lounge. If you’re not able to attend, then head on over to inthewildtesting.com.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

[Infographic] The State of Mobile App Quality: Android vs. iOS

It’s the industry’s premiere event, attended by some of the biggest names and brightest stars in the world…and it’s not the Academy Awards. I’m talking of course about Mobile World Congress, which kicks off today in Barcelona, Spain. While mobile enthusiasts convene to see what’s new and what’s next, we here at uTest decided to take at look at the current state of mobile app quality, which brings us to the following infographic. Below is an in-depth a look at the state of user satisfaction in the top two mobile ecosystems: iOS and Android.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing