Holiday Shopping on Mobile. Even the Elves Need an App for That.

Ho, ho, ho!  Whoa there, Blitzen– wasn’t it just Halloween?  It sure feels that way. After all, I still have two pounds of trick-or-treat candy to pretend I’m not eating.

Unfortunately, my four-year-old has already implored me to take down the skeleton and spiders hanging in the doorway because they’re going to scare away Santa.  So, rather than arguing the salient fact that Santa shimmies down the chimney versus ringing the doorbell, I’ve officially started morphing decor from the marvelous macabre to merry old Saint Nick.  Kids: 1. Mom: 0.

Nonetheless, the fact hasn’t escaped me that we’re two weeks away from Cyber Monday (November 28th), an occasion that online retailers have been planning for months.  Since summer, global brands and independent e-tailers have been testing and re-testing their mobile apps and web sites for functionality, usability, localization glitches and possible bottlenecks in site performance that could jeopardize their revenue potential.

Moreover, the ante has been upped now that the iPad and other tablets have entered the scene.  Online retailers that spent the last few years optimizing their mobile apps and porting them to additional platforms like Android, are now going through the process from scratch with tablets.  Not only are the specs non- standardized, varying significantly by manufacturer, device and network performance like smartphones.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

If An App Drops In The App Store…

Does it make a sound? With more than 500,000 apps in Apple’s app store and more than 200,000 apps in the Android  Market, I’ve often wondered, when a new app drops (and no one is around to hear it), how can it make enough noise to attract users?

Start with focusing on a particular market segment, says ReadWriteWeb. RWW published a very interesting post today to give mobile developers some insight into what they should be thinking about before building their killer app.

The main gist of it was to focus more on whom you’re developing for vs. the functionality of the app. I’m guessing this is the part where testers all over the world want to beat someone up right about now. Of course testers want developers to develop with functionality in mind; however, I do think the article brings up a good point.

Balancing the technical side (functionality) with the business side (target audience) will get you one step closer to having your new app “heard” and raking in the cash.

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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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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Pandora Says You Don’t Have To Choose HTML5 Or Native App

You can have your cake and eat it too! While there are concrete arguments both for and against using HTML5 vs. native apps, there is also a hybrid approach. In a recent GigaOM article, Pandora – the booming internet radio service that just launched an HTML5-run website – offers their advice to mobile app developers:

CTO Tom Conrad said that he could see the company developing a hybrid HTML5-native app. “It’s the best way to get the best of both worlds with the technology that’s available right now,” said Conrad. “That gives you integration with the OS and really, really high performance and really fluid user experiences. But integrated with some HTML5 content, whose strong suit is uniform platform dynamics, and rapid turns on user interface development.”

See more arguments both for and against HTML5 vs. native apps after the bump!

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Five Tips for Deploying a Mobile App

Mashable recently posted an article on the “8 Best Practices for Deploying a Top-Ranked Mobile App”. In it they included some very valuable tips. Some are more informational quips than “tips” but there are a couple strong takeaways.  They are…

  1. The first two weeks of an apps performance are most critical to establishing its credibility and visibility in app stores.
  2. Cheap is always better, but consider in-app purchases to attract free and paying customers.
  3. iOS apps over 20mb require WiFi, which hinders accessibility.  (One person even comments that, “app downloads go down more than 40% purely because a new version they uploaded was over this limit.”
  4. It’s beneficial to create localized versions.

It’s a nice list but it certainly omits one key item: Testing!  Users have come to expect mobile applications that work near-flawlessly and anything else greatly impacts their perception – and review – of the app.  If the first two weeks of an apps launch are so critical then pre-launch testing can obviously go an extremely long way toward the success of your product.

Remember: you only get one chance to make a first impression.  This is even more critical in an industry where a Harris Interactive Study found that users prefer a good user experience over brand names.

If you need proof, check out our mobile app case studies and mobile app customer list!

We’d love to hear from you – what are the best and worst apps & reviews you’ve seen?

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing