Tag Archives | mobile app testing

Mobile App World, London: October 19-20, 2010

Apps! Apps! And more apps! As the summer starts winding down here at uTest, we’ve been able to take a step back and a closer look at the big trends emerging all around us. What has been most apparent is the tremendous spike in mobile app testing needs. From top marketing agencies to retail giants to social gaming startups, our customers are developing more mobile apps to grow (or define) their businesses than ever before.

According to Game Developer Research, 25% of game developers are now making mobile games – that’s up from a mere 12% in 2009!

In addition, a survey conducted by iGR found that more than half (53%) of US mobile developers are building apps for Apple’s iPhone OS. BlackBerry was the next most popular, followed by Android and Windows Mobile.

In response to this incredible momentum, this year marks the launch of Mobile App World 2010, where global leaders in mobile tech and app development and entrepreneurs will gather to network and learn about the latest developments and innovations.

uTest will be among the outstanding line-up of more than 40 speakers, which includes Google, Microsoft, Ericsson, Orange Global and the BBC, who will be discussing the future of mobile apps. Shoot us a note if you’ll be around!

Note: If you’re looking for some cool, new mobile apps, check out Mobile App World’s August Apps Of The Month. You may spot a uTester’s favorite app! :)

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In-The-Lab Testing vs. In-The-Wild Testing: Lessons from “Antenna-Gate”

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but I wanted to briefly revisit Apple’s  “Antenna-Gate” fiasco to drive home a very important lesson for companies of all shapes and sizes: Rely too heavily on “lab-testing” and you are virtually guaranteed to get burned.

We recently learned about Apple’s “Top Secret” design and testing lab thanks to MG Seigler of TechCrunch, who was given access to the state-of-the-art facilities just days before he mysteriously disappeared (kidding).

For some, the futuristic lab has conjured up images from the movie Star Gate, although I think it looks more like the Senate floor from Star Wars (episodes I through III). Here’s Seigler with a more technical description, as well as some insight into how Apple actually uses it:

Inside Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA, there are a collection of rooms that house 17 giant anechoic chambers. Basically, they’re rooms where no waves (sound or electromagnetic) can reflect off of anything, so there is absolutely no interference when it comes to wireless testing. Apple places their devices from iPhones to iPads in these chambers to ensure the performance is up to their standards.

So how do they test it? There are four stages. The first is a passive test to study the form factor of the device they want to create. The second stage is what Caballero calls the “junk in the trunk” stage. Apple puts the wireless components inside of the form factor and puts them in these chambers. The third part involves studying the device in one of these chambers but with human or dummy subjects. And the fourth part is a field test, done in vans that drive around various cities monitoring the device’s signal the entire time (both with real people and with dummies).

So where did Apple go wrong? And what can this controversy teach us about the difference between in-the-lab-testing vs. in-the-wild testing? Below the jump are four critical lessons that companies ignore at their own peril:

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Mobile Developers: Addicted to Beta Testing?

Safe to say that mobile app development has greatly outpaced mobile app testing over the last few years. In other words, while the applications and platforms have seen tremendous technological advances (iPhone 4 bugs notwithstanding) the same cannot be said of mobile testing methodologies.

Case in point: The majority of mobile app developers remain overwhelmingly reliant on internal beta testing.

Here with proof is VisionMobile, who recently published a fascinating report on the growing mobile app ecosystem – a must-read for anyone involved in the space (developers, marketers, users, etc). From a QA point of view, the report further establishes that although testing innovations will ALWAYS trail those of development, the gap need not be so wide.

Here’s an excerpt that sums the whole thing up:

Internal beta testing is the most popular technique used by the vast majority (nearly 70 percent) of respondents, with beta testing with users and peer reviewing the next most popular techniques. Only 20 percent of respondents use focus groups or research of their own. Overall, North American developers are somewhat more sophisticated in their application planning, with 97 percent using beta testing as a standard part of application development and with broader use of a portfolio of planning techniques as well.

Yet, small development firms have limited means today to beta test and peer review their applications with a crosssection of representative users. Given the hundreds of thousands of mobile apps, we believe that efficient (crowd-sourced) testing of apps in a global market of users is considerably under-utilized. This presents an opportunity for the few solution providers in this segment – Mob4Hire and uTest.com, for example – but also for network operators, who can generate a channel for testing applications with end users, and provide an open feedback support system back to developers.

Other notable findings included:

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How Many Bars Do You *Really* Have?

So maybe it wasn’t AT&T’s fault after all.

Apple recently revealed that there is a fundamental flaw in their method for calculating how many signal bars to display.  And we have the iPhone 4 (and its “learn to hold your phone the right way” fiasco) to thank for bringing this software snafu to light.

CNN Money shares the following details from Apple:

“Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong,” Apple wrote in a statement posted on its website. “Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”

That means, for example, that iPhones sometimes display four bars when they should be displaying two. Apple said users reporting a significant drop in bars when they hold their iPhone 4 are probably in an area of “very weak signal strength” but were unaware of that because the phone displayed four to five bars.

“Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” the company said.

Perhaps most surprising, Apple disclosed that the problem is not confined to the iPhone 4.  The faulty formula has been present in every iPhone model since the 2007 original.  Questions remain about whether the issue is strictly software-related, or if it also involved hardware problems.  However, Apple has said it will release a free software update in the next several weeks to fix the glitch. It will use a new formula recommended by AT&T.

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MobileAppTesting.com Debuts — Promises To Tell You What’s What In Mobile

Like a rocket ship breaking the bounds of Earth’s gravity… like a bird soaring majestically over the open sunlit plains… like a spit wad hurled from the back of the classroom… today, uTest announced the launch of MobileAppTesting.com.  You can also follow our wit and wisdom on Twitter @mobile_app_test.

One thing that you won’t find on this site are ads, subscriptions, hooks or any kind of commercial agenda (don’t tell our investors!).  In fact, we created this site simply because mobile is the next frontier of app development and testing – and the fastest-growing segment of uTest’s business. So we wanted to give something back to mobile app developers, testers and entrepreneurs — and have a little fun at the same time.

We’ll will work with partners, pundits and pioneers (actively seeking co-conspirators) to create original, thought-provoking content about the entire mobile app ecosystem — from app developers to device makers to wireless carriers.  Whether it’s the apps arms race, the constant carrier battles, or the next must-have device, MobileAppTesting.com will be there with equal parts education and entertainment.

This site features user-generated content, contests, product reviews and guest interviews with mobile execs… stuff you can’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Hard-earned lessons for entrepreneurs, techies and investors who want to create world-class mobile apps
  • Overcoming obstacles unique to developing and testing apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian
  • Breaking news and product reviews (for apps, devices, networks and more) from top bloggers and journalists on the front lines of the mobile app explosion
  • Interviews from people who live it, offering their insights from the worlds of mobile app marketing, design, development and testing
  • Following uTest to mobile industry conferences, networking events, speaking opps and meet-ups

Want to be published on MobileAppTesting?  Have a topic you want us to tackle?  Feel the need to ask what the heck we think we’re doing?  Shoot us a note or drop a comment.

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Where In The World Is Doron Reuveni?

Well, today he’s sticking close to home in Boston. Tomorrow he’ll land in London… and before the week is out, he’ll hit Tel Aviv.

Doron starts Wednesday morning off (after his usual 10-mile run, of course!) in London with some tea and networking with friend and colleague, James Whittaker and UK partner, TCL.

Then he’s off to QCon London, an excellent conference for the enterprise software community. On Friday, 3/12 @ 2pm, he’ll be presenting at QCon re: The Mobile App Quality Challenge & How Crowdsourcing Can Help.

Doron is one of five software testing leaders chosen to present in the “How Do You Test That?” track. This track explores unique solutions created to address situations in which automated testing does not suffice.

And on the last leg of his marathon journey, Doron will present at Garage Geeks in Israel on Monday, 3/15 @ 8pm. There, Doron will be taking a deep dive into the topic of Crowdsourcing, and how smart recruiting, training and incentives can turn an unstructured, loosely assembled mob into a unified, professional community.

So, where in the world is Doron this week?  Catch him if you can!

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Join Us @ QUEST — Quality & Software Testing Conference (April 19-23)

QUEST, one of the top software testing conferences, will be held in Dallas this year (April 19-23).  And uTest is getting geared up and is thrilled to be a part of this conference.

In addition to inviting Doron to be a keynote presenter, QUEST features a week-long agenda packed with more than 100 opportunities for attendees to build new skills and prepare for the testing professions of the future.

From exploratory testing to test automation to security audits to crowdsourced testing,  QUEST will cover a wide range of testing topics that give attendees insight into the latest best practices and innovative approaches to testing today. To learn more, here’s a sneak peek at the QUEST Magazine.

Special Note: Members of the uTest community interested in registering for QUEST are eligible for

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How The (Mobile) Web Will Be Won

Imagine it’s February 2012 and you want to buy movie tickets, research a new restaurant, or check out the weekend weather forecast.  Ignoring that the 2012 version of the iPad will probably be free, able to read your mind and enable you transcend time and space, how will you access the mobile web in this not-too-distant future?

Given the explosive growth of mobile apps for iPhone (100,000+), Android (20,000+) and others, it’s easy to assume that no matter what you want to do in the future, there will indeed be “an app for that”.

Not so fast says Richard MacManus (@rrw) over at ReadWriteWeb.  MacManus references a recent study by mobile search company, Taptu, which predicts that browser-based mobile sites will win out over mobile apps built specifically for mobile platforms like iPhone and Blackberry.  And why does Taptu believe this and what are the implications of this prediction?

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Mobile Apps Keep Moving — But Have A Long Way To Go

Nick Jones over at Gartner wrote a great piece about the current state of mobile apps.  It’s a must-read for mobile app developers and marketers.

His post is written about the iPhone, but it applies equally to Android, Blackberry or Symbian apps.  It also helps to explain why mobile apps have been the fastest growing segment of the uTest biz (phenomenal growth + still evolving market = a lot of testing to do).

Here are a few realizations from his recent trip to his local Apple store that seemed especially relevant for our readers (bullet points are his and the running commentary is mine) :

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Mobile App Space Growing (Duh) — But Will Growth Continue To Accelerate?

Mobiles’ 2009’s impressive growth storyline continues in the early days of 2010. By now, you’re probably familiar apple-app-store-downloads-per-daywith the impressive growth in the number of mobile app:  100,000+ approved apps in Apple’s store, nearly 20,000 Android apps, and yesterday, InformationWeek reported that Palm’s app catalog has surpassed the 1,000 mark.

And while it’s widely accepted more apps = more users = more impressions = more revenues, how about some updated financial figures that are closer to the top line?  Well, Jason Kincaid over at TechCrunch outlines a recent report from AdMob that shows that the number of mobile ad impressions doubled in just TWO months:

Some more stats from AdMob’s latest post:

  • Increased device diversity: In December, 7 devices generated more than 3% of requests each: the Motorola Droid, HTC Dream, HTC Magic, HTC Hero, Motorola CLIQ, HTC Droid Eris, and the Samsung Moment. This is up from only 3 devices in October (HTC Dream, HTC Magic, and HTC Hero).
  • Droid Invasion: The Motorola Droid is already the leading Android handset in the AdMob network and generated 30% of requests in December.
  • US leads Android adoption: 90% of Android traffic was in the US in December, up from 84% in October. Top countries by requests are the US, UK, Germany, France, and Canada, respectively.

It’s an understatement to say that mobile was hot in 2009 — from our vantage point, mobile app testing was the fastest growing segment of uTest’s business.  But a growing number of trends are pointing to 2010 growing at an even faster rate.

Is it possible that this year will make ’09 look like the quaint, simple, slow times in the world of mobile apps?  Based upon what our customers (hundreds of app developers of all shapes and sizes) are telling us, the answer is a definitive ‘yes’. What say you?

UPDATE 1/5/10: And if all the above stats didn’t convince you, Apple just hit the 3 billion download mark! In just over 3 months, Apple went from a record 2 to 3 billion downloads by iPhone and iPod Touch users. Simply incredible.

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Our Guest Blogger Series: 2009 Year in Review

As a way to extract the collective wisdom of the uTest community, we decided to experiment with a Guest Blogger program beginning in April. To say that it’s been a success would be an understatement, but we’ll say it anyway (the number of page views don’t lie!). Having covered a wide range of topics – including mobile app testing, tester overconfidence, security testing and more – the series has become a big hit within the community — and a great way for testers to get published in front of a large audience.

Here are a some of the highlights from our 2009 guest blogger program.  Stay tuned for an even bigger 2010!

Who is the User? – by Lucia Maldonado:  In what ways is software similar to architecture? And how can this help steer testers in the right direction? In this post, Lucia Maldonado takes an in-depth look at user accessibility standards, and offers a number of essential tips for testers in this field.

Security Testing Tips (from a Bug Battle Winner) – by Bernard Shai Lelchuck:  When it comes to security testing, few can match the expertise of Bernard Shai Lelchuck – one of uTest’s first (and finest) QA professionals. In this post, Bernard covers the basics methods of security testing, including tips for  information gathering, logical attacks and injection attacks. Oh, and here’s Part II.

Respect the Defect: Advice That Will Change the Perception of  Testing – by Joseph Ours:  Testers need to reconsider they way they report bugs – this was the position taken by Joseph Ours in his first (and hopefully not last) uTest blog post. Challenging testers to demonstrate their value by writing more clearly about the bugs they uncover (among other tactics), Joesph has sparked an interesting debate among our community. Visit the comments section to see for yourself.

Step Away from the Simulator: Putting Mobile Applications Into a Tester’s Hands – by Brad Sellick:  What makes mobile testing different from conventional software testing? For one, the simulators and emulators are far less reliable. In this post, uTester Brad Sellick – a self-made expert on mobile app testing and development – explains the dangers of relying on these tools while performing mobile app testing.

What You Need to Know About Writing Effective Test Cases – by Valerie Dale:  Despite all evidence to the contrary, test case design is often seen as work with no real value – a remedial task with no significant ROI. One would think that with the added pressures to launch a quality product on schedule, test case design and planning would be a top priority. It’s not. At best, there is minimal attention paid to the practice. At worst, it’s non-existent. In this post, Valerie Dale makes a great defense of  this beleaguered practice.

Your Overconfidence is Your Weakness: Lessons from a “Crash Specialist” – by Pradeep Soundararajan:  In our most-popular guest post to date, noted blogger Pradeep Soundararajan explains why finding lots and lots of bugs isn’t necessarily a good thing. Reliving his days as a “crash specialist” Pradeep examines how a tester’s ego can get in the way of their objective. His advice is as funny as it is useful. Simply put: a must read.

Software Testers: The “Eyes of the Battlefield” – by Brian Rock:  Our testers come from all sorts of backgrounds, including the armed forces. Brian Rock – a former Sgt. for Combat Arms Forward Recon Team in the U.S Army – is a great example. In this post, Brian makes analogizes testers with cavalry scouts. That is, they are the “eyes of the battlefield.”  Advocating exploratory software testing (especially for those in the uTest community) this post will make you rethink the role of testers.

You’re a Professional Mobile Tester (you just don’t know it yet) – by Bernard Shai Lelchuck:  As the title would imply, this post makes the case that anyone with a mobile phone and an inquisitive mind can become a successful mobile tester. It worked for Bernard Shai Lelchuck! Here Beranrd explains the rise in mobile applications, how he himself broke into the field and some basic tips for those who would like to get started in this growing (and highly lucrative) field.

Question the Connection: Tips for Diagnosing User Login Failures – by Sherry Chukpa:  Forget the sweeping generalizations about software testing “best practices.” This post by uTester Sherry Chupka gets right to the point on a very specific issue: user login failures. If you’ve ever been pitted against this problem in the testing lab, Sherry feels your pains, and has some invaluable advice for you as you move forward.

It’s been a great year, with some terrific insights into the world of testing, but our Guest Blogger program is just getting started. So if you have an opinion to express, a tip to share or a bone to pick, we’re always eager to share the thoughts of our tester community. Email us your ideas at marketing@utest.com.

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How To Find Top-Notch iPhone App Developers

iphone app developerSeveral months ago, we outlined how to build an iPhone app and presented a primer for building iPhone apps.

But as demand continues to grow for top-quality iPhone apps — 100,000 different apps have been downloaded more than 2 billion times — many companies just can’t keep up.  So in the spirit of offering a build vs. buy alternative, now we’re back to share a great article from BusinessInsider about how to hire a great iPhone app developer.

Among the tips for companies looking to find a rockstar iPhone app developer include knowing what problem you want your app to solve, what it’s going to cost you and to avoid the temptation to rush your app to market (said differently, quality matters!).  It’s a good read, and definitely worthwhile if you participate (or intend to) in the rapidly growing market for iPhone apps.  Got your mobile app(s) developed, but want to know about the best ways to test your mobile apps?

Have other advice for entrepreneurs or companies who are looking to hire mobile app developers?  Drop us a comment and drop some knowledge.

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