Apple WWDC: Continuous Integration, Testing and More

xcode5Last week, Apple announced a number of exciting new products at WWDC, including iOS7 and OS X Mavericks. But some of Apple’s most important announcements slipped below the radar – announcements that will impact both developers and testers. Let’s take a look at a few of the exciting thing Apple announced that are going to change how you build and test your software.

Continuous Integration

Let’s start with the first big piece of news: continuous integration. Apple’s new continuous integration tool give developers a new way to automate build processes and make sure that all the important steps of a build are executed. Apple has done this by creating a new kind of process called a “bot,” which can be instructed to automatically run static analysis, unit tests, and archiving activities.

Apple’s other big announcement was a new tool that can move the build process to a remote server running OS X Mavericks. That means that you can offload the long tedious build process (including all the activities of the bots) to a remote server, giving you the power to work on other tasks in the mean time. If a build or test fails, you’ll see all the details in your local copy of Xcode. The remote build machine can be configured to run builds on demand, scheduled builds (e.g. nightly builds), or both.

Test Navigator

Along with the bots and continuous integration tools, Apple has developed a completely new unit testing system called Test Navigator. Developers will be able to create unit tests right within Xcode and then have those tests executed by bots. If the tests fail, they’ll be able to review the tests together with the relevant portions of their code, side by side.

Auto Layout

Over the past few years, Apple began moving away from the standard aspect ratios they introduced with the original iPhone, and there’s every indication this trend will continue. The downside of this proliferation of screen sizes is that app developers will have to work harder and harder building custom interfaces for each unique screen size.

With Xcode 5, Apple is launching a new tool called Auto Layout that they believe will help improve this problem. Auto Layout helps developers build interfaces by automatically managing the layout of items on the screen – moving components as the screen changes size so that everything fits neatly. This means that a single interface can easily adapt itself to a variety of screen sizes and shapes, giving developers the confidence their apps will work on the ever increasing number of devices.

And more…

Other features Apple announced last week include debug gauges (tools to see an app’s system utilization in real time) and source control. A more complete list can be found here.

Of course, we’re still in the early days of these new tools as Apple has just released the very first beta of Xcode 5. New features and improvements could still be on their way, and some of the existing features mentioned above could still be cut from the final release.

But judging from what we’ve heard about so far, this is a great time to be an Apple developer. With so many new tools, apps, and APIs, developers have an exciting road in front of them as they adopt Apple’s newest technologies.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

It’s a Wrap! The #GenMobile WWDC Party

To say the Appcelerator #GenMobile Party last Wednesday night was a success would be an understatement!  As one of Appcelerator’s newest partners, uTest was thrilled to sponsor their annual Apple WWDC  bash along with Box, InMobi and VentureBeat. Given Appcelerator’s reputation for throwing “the” party of the conference, tickets sold out far in advance.

Starting with a rush at 6:00pm, more than 500 mobile professionals starting pouring out of Moscone Convention Center and packing into Jillian’s in the Metreon for a night of celebration.  Folks from every facet of the mobile ecosystem mingled, hearing about each other’s latest projects and cool innovations in the works.

The diverse crowd included developers, project managers, and executives from companies including Groupon, SAP, Twitter, and Klout, as well as investors from firms like Google Ventures.  Plus, mixed among the familiar faces from VentureBeat were tech stalwarts like Don Clark of the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Lawler of TechCrunch, and Emily Price of Mashable.

If you couldn’t make it to the party, check out this video highlight reel and the photo gallery on Appcelerator’s Facebook page.  And of course we can’t forget about the photo booth!  Too many great photos to be able to pick favorites…

Thanks again, Appcelerator and to everyone that joined in the fun.  See you next year!

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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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How Quickly Should Security Patches Be Released?

Apple PatchThere has been plenty of talk these days about security. The increased use of computers and mobile devices to bank, shop and communicate with friends and family has also increased a user’s vulnerability to cybercriminals. Software updates and patches are critical to keep computers secure, but some companies are having trouble getting those patches released quickly.

Like many others, Apple recently had trouble with an exploited vulnerability, when cybercriminals were exploiting a flaw in Oracle’s java application environment. While Oracle was able to release an update for Window’s and Linux rather quickly, Apple (who handles their own Java updates) took months. There was much disappointment about the delayed response from Apple, and while many chalk this up to the fact that Apple was unprepared, as Mac’s had been virtually impenetrable for years, several others also cite regression testing as a major delay in releasing critical updates and patches. According to Sue Marquette Poremba of Security News Daily:

A quick fix isn’t always a good fix.

 ”Updating software reliably does not only mean fixing the problem,” (Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer at Redwood Shores) said, “but also testing whether the fix plays well with other modifications included in the code, plus making sure that it does not break any functions of the software.

Having a fix that works is important, but having the vulnerability on your computer affects how your system runs and who can control it. More often than not, the average computer user has no idea that a risk is there.

Read the full article at MSNBC.com >>>

Ask any of the 55,000+ testers at uTest and they can certainly tell you that bug fixes take time. To triage, locate and correct a bug is not an easy process by any means. And more importantly testing to make sure the fix is not going to break other existing features or open the application to additional vulnerabilities is critical.

We’d like to know how you feel about security updates. How long do you think security patches and updates should take?

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Malware Catches Up with Macs

Malware effecting Apple computersFull Disclosure: I used to be one of those Mac users who wasn’t too concerned with malicious links and suspicious emails because, hey, I use a Mac and Macs aren’t that susceptible to malware. … Oh how I miss those days.

Mac malware is on the rise, with an estimated 600,000 computers affected but the Flashback Trojan at the moment and another exploit taking advantage of a security flaw in outdated Microsoft Office for Mac files. Here’s some information on the Flashback Trojan’s effects, from PCMag:

The Java flaw exploited by the so-called Flashback Trojan dates back to February, but Apple did not release a patch until April 3. As a result, approximately 550,000 Macs were infected, according to data released this week from anti-virus vendor Doctor Web.

Doctor Web today provided a few more details about the proliferation of the Flashback Trojan. Almost 350,000 of the affected devices were in the U.S., with about 125,000 in Canada, and 75,000 in Great Britain.

In the U.S., Manhattan-based Macs saw the largest number of traceable infections at about 5,000, followed by Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But the whereabouts of almost 18,000 affected Macs was unknown, Doctor Web said.

In Canada, Toronto was hardest hit (14,000), while Londoners were most-impacted in the U.K. (almost 20,000). For more details, see the map below.

As PCMag’s Security Watch noted yesterday, Mac users did not have to download or even interact with the malware to become infected. Websites exploited a Java flaw that let Flashback.K download itself onto Macs without warning. It then asked users to supply an administrative password, but even without that password, the malware was already installed.

And this is how the Microsoft Office exploit works (from PCWorld):

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