Galaxy Gear Watch Means New Interface Possibilities

Yesterday, Samsung announced their new Galaxy Gear smart watch. With a 1.63 inch display, it packs a lot of power into a very small interface that is meant to fit on your wrist. Add in a camera, speakers, and a microphone, and you have a compact new platform for some really interesting new apps.

Haven’t seen it yet? Check out this overview from The Verge, or watch their overview video:

Over 70 apps will be available when the Galaxy Gear launches, and undoubtedly more will be coming as the platform matures. But developing apps for a watch is a very different process than developing them for a smartphone. In particular the interface and design elements will be very different, meaning that app developers will have to change the way they think about how their apps function. Let’s look at a few reasons why:

The Galaxy Gear is a Satellite for a Smartphone

The Galaxy Gear is not a stand alone device. Instead, it connects via Bluetooth to a separate Galaxy Note 3 phone. That has two big implications. First, your app needs to allow the user to smoothly transition between the parent phone and the satellite smart watch. As a user, I should be able to see relevant summary content and perform simple actions on the watch, while seeing more detailed information if I pull out my phone.

The second big impact is that the watch can only connect to the rest of the Internet when it’s in proximity to the phone. The Galaxy Gear has no built-in WiFi or mobile support, meaning that an Internet connection may simply disappear if the user walks away from their phone. Your app needs to be bullet proof and accommodate this kind of sudden change.

Gestures Replace the Keyboard

With a tiny display, there’s no room for a QWERTY keyboard. The 320×320 display has enough room for a few buttons and interface items, but most of the inputs will be gesture driven. That means thinking about how the user will select items, move between views, and interact with different elements. If the user needs to input or edit text, they’ll have to transition back to their smartphone.

Focus on the Essentials

What does a user really need on their watch vs. their phone? Complex interface elements, multistep processes, and decorative UI chrome will create frustration when combined with the Galaxy Gear’s small screen. Build your app with a focus on the UI components that actually matter. And don’t just strip down your app’s regular phone UI and call it a smart watch app. Think about what your user wants to accomplish with their smart watch and develop an app that targets those specific use cases.

Battery Life is Critical

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of room inside a watch for a large battery. The Galaxy Gear features a 315mAh battery that’s much smaller than a comparable smartphone battery. Your app must be sensitive about power. Avoid performing complex calculations on the watch or unnecessarily transmitting data back and forth with the smartphone.

Testing Will Be Critical

With all these changes, it’s almost certain that anyone developing an app for the Galaxy Gear, or any smart watch, will need to adjust their assumptions and perspective about app design and development. Nobody should expect to get it right the first time, and that’s why good testing will be critical to making sure an app is ready for launch.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

See Apphance at the Samsung Developers Office Hours, NYC

Yesterday we told you a little bit about some of Apphance’s new features, and the response has been fantastic so far. Now we have a great opportunity to show Apphance to you live in person, if you live in the New York City area.

This Thursday December 13th, uTest is partnering with Samsung to offer a hands on workshop from 6-10pm at the Samsung Developers Office Hours NYC. I’ll be there to conduct a 60-minute workshop about Apphance and talk about how mobile developers are using it to launch higher-quality Android apps. In addition, a few members of the uTest team will be there to discuss our in-the-wild testing services.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about how Apphance works, see it in action, or find out how easy it is to get it working with your own app, join us for this live workshop.

We hope to see you there!

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Bending the Rules of Display Technology with Samsung’s “Youm”

While we still don’t have flying cars or ubiquitous personal jet-packs, the future is constantly bearing down on us when it comes to new mobile display technology. This week, Samsung seems a step closer to unveiling its flexible AMOLED display after officially giving it a name. An “unbreakable” smartphone screen? If that doesn’t scream “the future is here!”, I don’t know what does.

Samsung has already applied to copyright the name “Youm”, complete with logo, with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

News of the technology was first posted from The Verge, sourced from a new Samsung Korea Mobile Display page, where it teases us with the words, thinner, lighter and unbreakable. Comparing its new bendable AMOLED technology to traditional LCD and OLED displays, Samsung explains how it uses film instead of glass thus giving it that flexible quality.

Of course Samsung is not the only manufacturer working on a flexible display. LG recently unveiled its own bendable E-Paper Display claiming it would revolutionize the eBook market. LG’s EPD technology could debut as early as May.

While announcing an official name is certainly a step in the right direction, we’re still no closer to knowing exactly when the Youm flexible AMOLED displays will appear. However there have already been reports that Samsung’s Liquavista electrowetting displays are coming in 2013. So as it would seem, flying cars are taking a backseat to the new display technologies coming out soon. What are your thoughts on Samsung’s Youm flexible displays?  Would flexible displays change mobile apps and testing? Let us know with your comments.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Are You In The ‘In Crowd’? LinkedIn Launches Company Pages

While social media is uber-important to us here at uTest, it plays a huge role when building any successful online community or crowdsourcing business model. The social web has led to a dramatic increase in online platforms that solve real business problems and enable social and business connections.

With all that in mind, uTest — along with HP, Dell, Microsoft, AT&T, FedEx, JetBlue, Samsung and others — was among the very first businesses to showcase their products on LinkedIn’s new Company Product Pages (launched yesterday 11/2/10).

LinkedIn has more than 80 million members worldwide and launched Company Pages to make it easier for businesses to engage with all these professionals with a dynamic, content-rich profile of record. In addition to product and service recommendations, businesses can display videos, featured product information and targeted ads on their Company Pages to drive engagement and interaction.

It’s still in the works, but check out our company services page here and recommend us if you feel inclined!
(And be sure to Follow Us On LinkedIn – it’s the only way into the ‘in crowd’ ;).)

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Which Tablet Device Will You Purchase?

Walmart just confirmed that it will begin selling the iPad in stores this Friday. On this news, we can say without hyperbole that everyone in the world will soon own a tablet device. But will they all buy iPads?

Probably not. In fact, several iPad rivals are getting decent play with the press, consumers and our very own tester community. We recently asked our testers and Facebook fans which of the new tablet devices they would most likely purchase as part of our weekly What Do uThink series. Here were the results:

  • iPad (Apple): 47%
  • Playbook (Blackberry): 24%
  • Galaxy (Samsung): 15%
  • Not purchasing a tablet: 15%

Okay, so maybe not everyone will purchase a tablet device. We even included the HP Slate, the ICD Vega, the Dell Streak and NAV9, but none of those devices received votes. Even so, it’s nice to know you have some options.

So if you’re still on fence about which tablet device you’ll be taking home, here are a few demo videos that might sway your decision:

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing