Over the past week, there’s been some hub bub over comments made by Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha. According to IDG News Service, Jha “blamed the open Android app store for performance issues on some phones,” based on his statement: “Of all the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70 percent come back because applications affect performance.”
Even though Motorola formally stated today (see MoCoNews article) that Jha’s comments were essentially misconstrued and didn’t accurately reflect his intentions, the issue has remained a lightning rod for debate.
But for those of us in the software testing community, there’s a truly, positive message embedded in this issue: Motorola was validating the critical importance of QA testing in the app development process.
After all, consider Jha’s statement that, “one of the good and problematic things about Android is that it’s very very open. So anyone can put applications, third-party apps, on the market without any testing process….For power consumption, CPU utilization, some of those things, those applications are not tested. We’re beginning to understand the impact that has.”
For professional software testers, that confirms how important our work is, and actually suggests that the scope of mobile testing should be expanded.
Essentially, Jha wasn’t really referring to functional testing. Or testing exclusively in the “clean and ideal” conditions of a lab environment. Instead, he was describing the need for usability testing in the real-world to subjectively examine how apps and devices perform in live conditions and affect the user experience. For instance, did the app run sluggishly? Did it seriously tax the battery life? These are vital questions, particularly for apps heavy on audio and video.
At the end of the day, consumers are unlikely to differentiate whether their frustration over poor performance is caused by the smartphone or the app…or the interaction of both. They just want to have a great experience with their new mobile “toy” or get their work done.
Because if there isn’t enough testing on every device that the app is developed for, then (as Jha said) the smartphone gets returned and everyone– including the app publisher–loses out.