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

Life After Steve Jobs: Has Apple Lost its Core?

I found myself deliberating on something unexpectedly the other night.  I was thinking about buying the iPad–which I’ve wanted for a long time–and it occurred to me: What’s the future of Apple?

Previously, the issue was whether I should I invest in iOS and start the conversion over from a lifetime on Windows.  After all, my dad was a 30-year IBM vet, which put food on the table and paid my tuition.  I grew up seeing mammoth mainframes, punchcards…glowing green DOS.  No Apples of any color in our Big Blue household.

But on this occasion, it wasn’t a question of brand loyalty. It was the obvious: the loss of Steve Jobs.

I still find myself processing his passing both emotionally and practically. I remember how the AP alert popped up on my phone and it literally felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I admired him for living authentically, taking billion dollar gambles on ideas, picking himself up after billion dollar failures, and holding steadfast (stubborn?) to his vision.

I’m convinced his near-religious zeal over every minutiae of product design stemmed from the same social ethic that led to Apple’s creation:  to make computers so easy and user-friendly that everyone could benefit from computing’s powerful potential.  Not just the technical, highly-educated and elite. Computers for Everyman.

Attention to detail.  Risk-taking. Singular focus. These are among the core values of the Apple brand. As I considered buying the iPad, I wondered:  Are these values sufficiently infused in Tim Cook and the company DNA to continue on without Steve?  Or will Apple employees slowly lose direction like followers of the North Star left without guide over too many cloudy nights?
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What Do YOU Want to See Under the Magnifying Glass?

If you’re following us on Facebook–and we hope you are!–the 1st contest in our “Under Hopper’s Magnifying Glass” competition has ended…and we have a winner! 

We asked people to guess what was under the magnifying glass and over 230 people chimed in.  We got some pretty funnny and creative guesses, ranging from an iPad cover (lobbying for the prize?  haha) to a mole to an Oreo.  One uTester even thought it was it was a meteorite!  But the correct answer was…drum roll, please… a dog’s nose! 

The first person to submit the correct answer was super sleuth Becky Presgraves, who won a brand new iPad 2. Congrats, Becky!!   

Check Out This Week’s Contest and Get Involved!

If you missed the 1st competition, you have three more chances to win an iPad 2.  We’re sponsoring one per week, so log-on and ante in! 

This week, we’re asking you to tell us what YOU want to see under Hopper’s magnifying glass!  If your idea receives the most ‘likes’ at the end of the week, you’ll will win an iPad 2.  So make sure to lobby your friends and get them to vote for your entry!  

For a chance to win, check out our specially designed Under Hopper’s Magnifying Glass app on Facebook here.  Good luck, and may (Hopper’s) force be with you-

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

@Scobleizer’s 100 Must Have iPhone Apps List

Robert Scoble just published his list of “Must Have iPhone Apps” on Quora. It’s well over 100-apps long but it’s pretty exciting to see so many uTest customers listed (dare I say that it reads like a “Who’s Who of uTest Customers”?)

It’s pretty extensive but we know there are more “Must Have Apps” out there – for me it’s…

  • Nike+ GPS – best run tracking app yet with a lot of social interaction (i.e. play “tag” against friends, get live cheering from Facebook friends). Plus it’s compatible with DailyMile.com which is my go-to exercise tracker.
  • TWC (The Weather Channel) – It’s the best weather app I’ve seen yet.
  • Weber’s On The Grill – its summer.  How can you not have this downloaded?
  • ESPN’s FFL app – With the pending lockout this might be pretty pointless come fall but I’m optimistic that I’ll have a chance to take some friends money.
  • HBO Go – Free access to all HBO content for existing HBO customers means I watched all Entourage episodes in a couple weeks on the iPad. Curb Your Enthusiasm is next.

Scoble’s list after the jump. You know you want to see it….

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Testing the Untestable

Sometimes there are features that just can’t be tested until the product is launched. For example, today I had a conversation with one of the uTest product managers about some upcoming features, and she lamented that there was this one thing she just couldn’t get tested. It’s an internal feature that changes the behavior for emailing our project managers, but testing it is nearly impossible because email is disabled on our staging server. Enabling emails would mean sending garbage messages to 35,000 testers, so this one feature won’t be tested until the last minute when it’s ready for launch. It’s not ideal, but it is understandable.

Another example: Robert Scoble recently interviewed Trey Ratcliff (one of my favorite photographers) about his new photo editing app for the iPad. Trey remarked that because there is no camera on the iPad 1, they had to “blindly” add the feature for taking pictures using the built-in camera – that is, without testing. That’s because when they wrote the feature, the iPad 2 (which includes a camera) didn’t yet exist. Kind of scary, but understandable. No amount of testing in the world would validate that feature until the iPad 2 went on sale.

The sad reality is that there are times when getting 100% testing coverage is impractical. Fortunately, there are some strategies we can use to mitigate any problems that may come up:

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