From Google Glass prototypes to the Fitbit Flex, Nike+ Fuelband, or Jawbone device, wearable tech is creating a lot of noise. However, like any major shift in the tech industry, along with all the hype and excitement comes a fair share of criticism and concern. Here’s a look at some of the top wearable tech concerns for developers and what they mean for QA professionals:
Concern #1: “What’s a good user experience for a wearable tech device?”
If you thought the development shift from desktop apps to mobile apps was tough… think again. Developing an intuitive user interface connected to a wrist band or a pair of reality augmented glasses will be a massive challenge for developers. As Marvin Ammori writes in a post on VentureBeat:
“In designing for mobile, however, designers and developers learned that they could simplify even the desktop experience and better highlight the key information. By developing for Glass and other wearable technologies with small, always-on screens, developers and designers will begin stripping down mobile and desktop experiences to their core.”
What this means for QA: The onset of wearable tech UIs will redefine usability testing for QA professionals. As Ammori says, user experiences will need to be stripped down to their core. There won’t be one clear cut answer for testing wearable tech as a whole either. The differences between usability testing an iOS app opposed to an Android app will seem minimal when testing the usability of a wrist band or a pair of glasses and how they connect to a mobile device. Wearable tech will require a scaled testing teams testing under different real world scenarios.
Concern #2: “Wearable tech makes me look like an idiot!”
Some of the concern floating around right now focuses on whether wearable tech is hot or not. Eliza Brooke of TechCrunch shares her concern:
“But I have another [concern]: that your wearable tech is making you look like a tool.
But the thing is, sometimes you love what you love, and it’s awesome, so you’re just going to wear it anyway, goddammit! Even those TC eds admitted that they have an affection for dumb-looking wearables. Like USB belts. Wristbands. Cyber pants.”
It sounds silly, but look and feel will be a main factor in the success of wearable technology. If the wearable technology isn’t aesthetically pleasing, the truth is that users aren’t going to wear it.
What this means for QA: While the usability of the software itself will need to be tested, the experience of the device itself will need to be tested as well. Does it makes sense, do certain parts of the device get in the way on-the-go, are there features and parts to the hardware that should be left out of changed… these are all things that will need to be considered.
Concern #3: “Device fragmentation just got even more fragmented!”
Wearable technology makes developing for the the Android ecosystem look like a piece of Key Lime Pie. Connected wristbands, watches, glasses, sneakers, clips… the list goes on. This will simply add to the already massive app matrix. The way you develop software for a pair of sneakers and how they connect to a connected device opposed to how you develop a connected wristband will be vastly different.
What this means for QA: Wearable technology will require testing for the device itself which will vary greatly, as well as how it communicates with any other electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, computers…etc.). This isn’t something you can simply automate testing for. Wearable technology will be made to communicate with your body and your eyes under a series of unique on-the-go scenarios. These devices will be interacting with you, as you with them, in unique ways. Because of this, in-the-wild testing will play an integral role in the success of wearables. Functional, usability, localization, security and load problems will occur in ways testers have never seen them before, and real world testing will be the only way to identify the bugs and glitches pre-launch.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for QA in the adoption for wearable tech? Share your thoughts in the comments section.