Get Your App Ready for iPhone 5

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4SYou have a pretty, functional, successful iPhone app already in the App Store. Then out comes the iPhone 5 with its new dimensions and retina display. What kind of changes will you need to make to accommodate these new features? Darrell Etherington over at TechCrunch asked two “developers of varying technical expertise and experience” that question. Here’s a sneak peek at what he came up with.

Milen Dzhumerov, developer of Clear:

The amount of work depends solely on whether the interface in question is inherently stretchable. For example, a lot of applications are size-constrained thus they employ scrollviews. For those types of applications, supporting the new screen should be a matter of removing assumptions in any layout code about the screen height.

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The Ultimate Test for Mobile Payments

Mobile payments seem to be where we’re headed, but I don’t know anyone who makes more than 5% of their purchases through their phone. I don’t know Wired writer Christina Bonnington personally, but I do know that she’s prepared to use nothing but her smartphone to make purchases over the next month. How do I know this? She told me so on Wired.com. Take a look:

Here are The Rules I’ll be playing by. They’re pretty simple

  • Cash, check, credit cards, or debit cards are not allowed for monetary transactions. Period.
  • That means I will make purchases only through NFC (Google Wallet), PayPal, or other purely electronic or mobile payments. Apps and websites that store and use my credit card number for transactions are OK; anything that requires the swiping of a credit card is not. Apps and services that let you store a particular dollar amount that purchases are deducted from are OK.
  • I will not ask friends, family, or coworkers to buy things for me because my payment modes aren’t accepted.
  • Paper or plastic coupons and passes are not allowed for transactions. This includes things like printed coupons at the grocery store, paper movie tickets, and my plastic Muni bus pass.
  • Paper or plastic ID is not allowed. I will be taking a photo of my ID to carry on my smartphone. If I get carded, this will have to suffice.
  • I will live my life just as I normally would. I will not unnecessarily adjust my social or purchasing behaviors, other than what’s required by the change in payment mode, and will not “prep” for the month, such as going out of my way to stock the pantry or fill up on gas. (Honestly, I’m far too lazy to do that anyway.)
  • I will generally still be carrying at least one card and my physical ID on me as normal, just in case of some sort of crazy emergency. And by “emergency,” I mean hospitalization, a car accident, etc., not “I got carded and now I can’t go to this bar.”
  • I will not be ditching my house keys.

Think she’ll make it?

Examples of Successful Mobile App Usability

Best Mobile App UIsYesterday I highlighted 10 features of highly usable mobile apps. Now that you have an idea of what’s included in a highly usable app, let’s take a look at some companies who are already doing it right. These apps in particular were highlighted by Kinvey for their “brilliant mobile UX.” Kinvey looked specifically for content, user input, information architecture, design and usability (all factors included in the Smashing Magazine list!).

Living Social
Content: Living Social’s content is a nice balance of quality photos, text, buttons and icons, all with the purpose of informing users of deals happening in their location.
User Input: Tapping and scrolling one-handedly is all the user needs to do here.
Informational Architecture: Tthe list of deal categories makes it simple for the user to get right to the deals they’re after.
Design: The main page has a sleek dark background with nice bright contrasting colors, and I love how the background changes to an image specific to your city.
Usability: The simplicity and clear descriptions in the design drives users to explore their options and quickly and easily purchase deals.

Soundhound
Content: A mix of text, buttons and images that aid in music search and discovery. ts scrolling banner of album art invites the user to explore different sections of the app.
User Input: User input in Soundhound is very minimal, as it should be. You just have to press one big button. Very simple and intuitive.
Informational Architecture: Everything is arranged in a pretty straight-forward manner
Design: Pretty simple, but nothing to write home about.
Usability: The overall usability is simple, straightforward and fast. Such minimal effort is required to achieve the main goal of the app it almost seems magical.

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Guest Post: Technology In Your Hospital Physician’s Hands

If you live close to a very large hospital in a large city, and if you have recently spent time in that hospital either as a patient or as a visitor, you’ve probably seen something new. Hospitals and their IT departments are beginning to use portable technology like iPads and other tablets to aid in their diagnostic and patient record keeping services. Furthermore, photos of the injuries, breakdown analysis of x-rays and CAT scans and other bio tests, and a host of other apps aid doctors and nurses in these hospitals offer a higher level of immediate and timely care.

The Benefits For Doctors And Nurses

Doctors and nurses can communicate with each other through texts, emails, IMs, and even live chats when the situation warrants it. But live chat software has to be secure enough to avoid revealing too much about a patient’s information. Patients, in or out of the hospital, can communicate live with their doctor’s site, or with the hospital or clinic’s site. Often patients can find links to helpful videos on subjects they want to know more about, led by the doctors they see or would prefer to see.

Doctors, nurses and patients all benefit from these connections and the ability to be able to schedule a live chat. Sometimes one on one, sometimes an entire group with one or two doctors, patients can get their questions answered.

Patient Care

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Texting, Testing and Driving

Try reading that headline three times fast! Better yet, try texting it while you’re driving. If you’ve installed OneProtect on your smartphone, you’ll find that task to be impossible. Hopefully.

Mashable just profiled the latest app to help make the roads safer. Here’s a summary of OneProtect’s unique feature set:

A new software suite called OneProtect, which includes a mobile app and web browser, is here to curb the destructive impact our attention to our mobile phones and texting can have on our driving.

Once installed, the OneProtect technology blocks drivers from using their phones while in motion. Once your phone’s GPS indicates your car is moving above a speed of your choosing — the default is 15 miles per hour —  it will lock up.

What sets OneProtect apart from other distracted driving apps is its Attention Verification Test (AVT), a patent-pending technology that differentiates between drivers and passengers.

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10 Key Components of Successful Mobile App Usability

Mobile UsabilityDesigning to mobile presents a whole new world of challenges. Smaller screens, multiple screen sizes, connectivity issues, touch screen capability, varying screen resolutions – these are all issues mobile developers have had to contend with when designing a usable, likable mobile application. Add the fact that users are finicky and sometimes like or dislike something for no reason and designing a successful mobile app seems a Mt. Everest sized challenge.

But as developers figure out what does and doesn’t keep end users happy, they often share the information to help others. So here’s a look at a few key components to mobile usability and a highlight of some apps that are doing it right.

Smashing Magazine says successful mobile usability is tied to several important factors:

Functionality
Focus on tools and features that help users complete their tasks. Guidelines to functionality include:

  • Prioritize and present core features
  • Offer relevant mobile-only functionality (like bar code scanning and image recognition)
  • Ensure that fundamental features and content are optimized for mobile

Information Architecture
Make sure the functionality and content appear in a logical way. Guidelines include:

  • Present links to the main features and content on the landing page, prioritized according to the user’s needs
  • Enable mobile users to navigate the the most important content and functionality in as few taps or key presses as possible
  • Address the navigation needs of both touchscreen and non-touchscreen users

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Integrate Apphance With Your Android Mobile App

Developing an Android mobile app? Launch better quality apps, get to market faster and connect with users by integrating uTest Apphance with your application. Learn how to integrate Apphance into your Android mobile application with this video tutorial:

If you have any trouble let us know. Feel free to email us anytime at help@apphance.com.

Launching a Paid Mobile App? Good Luck With That

From the we-knew-it-was-true department comes this news from Gartner: the majority of apps downloaded are free, not paid. That means if you’re launching a paid mobile app, then you face an uphill battle for users and revenue. Here’s TechCrunch with the story:

The mobile app market, currently still led by app trailblazer Apple, is continuing to grow at a rapid pace: according to new research from Gartner there will be nearly 46 billion mobile app downloads made this year, nearly double the 25 billion downloads in 2011. Among those downloads, free will continue to reign supreme: 89% of those downloads worldwide will cost nothing. That is also appearing to have a knock-on effect on apps that are sold for a price: 90% of paid apps will cost less than $3.

These are pricing trends that will only become stronger. By 2016, Gartner is predicting the the mobile app market will see almost 310 billion downloads, with 93% of those free apps.

Read the rest >>> 

The Risky New World of Open Garden

Dare you enter?If you’re paying for a wireless plan, why should it be limited to one device? If someone else’s connection has a little spare bandwidth, wouldn’t it be nice to put it to use? The Open Garden Foundation addressed these questions at TechCrunch Disrupt earlier this summer with a new app.

The Open Garden app allows users to share all manner of wireless connections across different devices, as long as they are willing to lend their own wireless connections to the cause. This concept is known as the “mesh network.” TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois got the details at TechCrunch Disrupt:

Open Garden … lets you create a mesh network that ties together all the Open Garden-enabled devices around you into one large network that then automatically shares Internet access and bandwidth between all of these devices. Basically, Open Garden wants to become a crowdsourcing platform for mobile connectivity.

Read Lardinois’ full article

Open Garden is currently available in beta for Android, Windows and iOS, and brings an intriguing new dynamic to wireless devices. However, if one decides he wants the app but bothers to break with tradition and read the Software License Agreement, he finds a passage that reads, “[We] tested it, and our private beta testers did, but our environment is different from yours. The software certainly still has plenty of bugs. It might crash your phone and worse.”

…And worse?? Sorry Open Garden, I’d rather not own any apps that crash my phone let alone do something cryptically more horrible to it. I do love the idea, and am certainly more willing to wait for the full release of Open Garden or something similar to it than upgrade my Android to that posh 4G network, but if you’re launching a crowdsourcing app then please, please, crowdsource your app testing.

“But that’s what a beta launch is…” Afraid not. A beta launch is a launch, and like it or not that now means you are putting your brand on the line. Open Garden sounds incredibly cool and my initial reaction to it was to jump in with both feet, but now I have my reservations. And as they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Important iPhone 5 Features for Developers and Testers

iPhone 5Enough with rumors, the iPhone 5 is finally here! Here’s a list of what it includes (so you can stop speculating).

  • 4 inch retina display: That’s half an inch bigger than the 4S. The resolution has also been up-ed from 960×640 to 1136×640. Apple is boasting a clearer picture because there are fewer screen layers. “Instead of a separate layer of touch electrodes between display pixels, the pixels do double duty — acting as touch-sensing electrodes while displaying the image at the same time,” according to Apple.com. Mobile app developers are going to want to keep these screen changes in mind and test their apps on the new iPhone to make sure everything still looks good.
  • A6 chip: Reported to be twice as fast as the A5 chip in the 4S, the A6 chip will boost CPU and graphics performance and incrase battery life (when used with iOS6).
  • LTE Connection: Apple took the chips traditionally associated with LTE access (one for voice, one for data) and combined them into one super chip.
  • Camera: According to the specs, the iPhone 5’s camera isn’t any different than the 4S camera. But Apple is talking about a panorama feature that let’s users shoot a full 240 degrees. The new iPhone also reportedly increases photo capture by 40% and performs better in low light situations.
  • More mics and better speakers: This handset features three microphones – on the front, back and bottom. It also apparently has improved speakers, but there isn’t much press on that.
  • iOS6: The new platform has already been covered, but I wanted to put it here as a reminder. This is, afterall, one of the biggest aspects testers and developers are going to encounter with the iPhone5.

(Since this blog is about app testing I focused on the features that will have a direct impact on developers and, in turn, on testers. So there are other new features, like the Lightening connector and new Micro-Sim card, that didn’t get mentioned in the post.)

Thanks to TechCrunch and Apple for the information!