Amazon Tackles Device Fragmentation Issue

Amazon KindlesDevice fragmentation is a huge issue in the Android world. Amazon has latetly contributed to this issue by offering its Kindle Fire tablet in three distinct sizes. This presents developers with the issue of customizing their apps to three different screen sizes and resolutions for the Kindle alone – not to mention all the other Android devices. From there users need to pay attention when they’re downloading apps to make sure they select the correct one for their device. Amazon has decided to tackle this issue head on. Here’s the scoop, from Gigaom:

Amazon added a new developer feature called “device targeting” on Monday, which will make it easier for device owners to find the right applications for their particular smartphone or tablet. Mobile app developers can use device targeting to build multiple versions of their software so that the correct version is installed from Amazon’s Appstore for Android, regardless of the device. By allowing this, Amazon can help reduce or even eliminate any potential application fragmentation of software that works on some Kindle Fires, but not on others.

Here’s how Amazon explains it:

“While it is easy to support optional APIs and device capabilities within a single binary, you may decide that it is easiest for your apps to generate different binaries for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.   For each title, you can now offer separate APKs for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD 7″, Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, and general Android (all non-Amazon) devices.”

Learn more at Gigaom >>>

This will almost certainly increase the need for in-the-wild testing to make sure each device-customized app is working correctly and that the right  binaries are being pulled.

Stats: Companies Still Missing the Mark with App Testing

StatsThat same World Quality Report (by HP, Capgemini and Stogei) that I cited in yesterday’s post about enterprise app testing is filled with even more interesting – and disturbing – facts. Kate recently wrote about a SDTimes survey that found that 42% of companies don’t test their mobile apps, but the World Quality Report puts that number even higher. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • 31% (one-third) of those surveyed currently formally test their mobile apps
  • 64% of mobile app testing is focused on performance
  • 48% is focused on functional testing
  • 18% focuses on security testing
  • 51% of businesses test in-house (13% have moved entirely an outside provider)
  • 59% of businesses that test in-house classify their QA department’s knowledge of the latest testing tools and technologies as “average”
  • 29% say they lack the necessary testing expertise or specialists
  • 78% expect to start using Testing as a Service within the next two years
  • 60% are in the process of building or planning a Testing Center of Excellence

On the upside:

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Guest Post: Best Practices for Testing Android Apps

AndroidIn today’s guest post Jem Larson discusses the issues of Android fragmentation and cross-device stability. Jem highlights a few problem areas developers and testers should pay particular attention to and recommends a few websites to help with testing. Jem works for buyVerizon, a site that offers deals and information about Verizon Fios

There’s an almost constant debate about which OS has the best apps and which technology company has the best developers. While some apps are open source – up to 90% according to common reports – many others charge a small fee for the privilege of using them. In the case of many a device, it is the apps the device comes with and provides access to that makes it special. But no app should make its way to your device without being thoroughly tested first. Today we’re talking about what is considered to be the most intricate and the biggest mobile testing spaces – Android apps.

At the heart of the Android app advantage is the fact that it is open source, which can also make it more vulnerable to issues such as fragmentation. The sheer volume of apps being released on an almost daily basis makes it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. But never has testing been without its share of challenges and there’s help in the form of some cool testing sites and other rules that can be followed. Here’s a look at some of them.

1. Robolectric

If you find the emulator to be painfully slow at times, this site lets you run tests on apps on the computer’s Java virtual machine, saving you time and effort in significant ways. With this tool you can test across the board, including user interface, layout, code and networking. It also gives you more freedom than a lot of other testing platforms out there, including the one from Google. Another option to consider is Robotium, an easy and simple framework that can test even advanced applications.

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BlackBerry Goes Black on the iPhone 5’s Big Day

BlackBerry has been hanging on by a thread in the mobile industry, and reports this morning show things are only getting worse. The company experienced a major outage today – affecting BBM, email and Internet. Users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have reported these issues. Natasha Lomas in TechCrunch outlines the irony of this incident:

“A network outage has struck BlackBerry users in the EMEA region this morning — on, irony of ironies, iPhone 5 launch day — affecting BBM, email and internet but not voice or text. Fall is a troublesome season for the company which experienced the largest outage in its network’s history last October, causing then co-CEO Mike Lazaridis to appear on YouTube in person to present an excruciating autocue apology for letting customers down.”

After the outage last year, the company promised to take necessary steps to identify the root cause of the crash. The best way to perform root cause analysis is to put the system through in-the-wild functional testing to see if the outage was caused by a bug, and then to load test for any bottle necks. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that BlackBerry put its network through the necessary tests.

However, the system has restored much faster than the outage last fall. The services have since been restored, and are now operating normally according to BlackBerry.


iOS 6 Update Causes Major Traffic Spike

Photo from TechCrunch

Apple’s new OS update, iOS 6, was released yesterday. We posted this morning about the bugs that have been rolling in since release. Despite this, there is good news for Apple – recent reports show that there is already a likely high adoption for the iOS 6 update that will continue to soar.

According to Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch:

“The total size of the combined updates was well over 2GB spread across all products, representing a significant amount of data when counted across the mass of iPhone and Mac users around the world. Traffic levels were pushed to over 9 times their average levels, according to the Better Broadband Blog, which is good news for developers and Apple, since it means there’s already likely a high rate of early adoption for the iOS 6 update.”

This is a good sign that Apple has done its fair share of load testing. 9 times the average level is a pretty serious increase, and most often servers crash with that type of traffic growth.

iPhone users- what are your thoughts on the iOS 6 update? Let us know in the comments section.

Enterprise Companies Fail to Test Apps

Enterprise Security HoleMany companies – particularly enterprise companies – are still trying to figure out exactly what their mobile presence should be and how to properly achieve that presence. Unfortunately, according to a new report released by HP, Capgemini and Sogeti, many enterprise companies are in such a rush to catch up with the mobile market that they’re skipping testing. Here are a few disturbing stats Network Computing pulled from the report:

“Enterprises seem to have been caught by surprise at the speed by which mobile application adoption has taken place,” said Murat Aksu, vice president and global head of HP Alliance for Capgemini. “We’re finding enterprise quality assurance teams are falling behind. They’re not carrying out an end-to-end process that includes testing for functionality, usability, performance and security concerns.”

The report showed that among a global group of more than 1,500, fewer than a third of enterprises test their applications before sending them live. Particularly troubling is the fact that among those that actually do have a QA process in place for mobile applications, fewer than 18% tested for security issues, Aksu said.

Read more at Network Computing >>>

Aksu says a large part of the problem is that enterprise-sized companies are accustomed to having full control over all applications and devices, which they’ve traditionally kept tucked safely behind a firewall and other security measures. This old approach may be lending enterprises a false understanding of greater security threats. Or they simply don’t understand the threatscape associated with mobile.

No matter the reason – be it not understanding threats or simply a rush to market – enterprise will need to start understanding and respecting the need for app testing, particularly security testing.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll take a look at more QA stats from survey.

The iOS 6 Bugs Roll In

From what I’ve heard, iOS 6 is a nice upgrade over its predecessor. A few complaints about the absence of Google Maps here and there, but that’s about it. Well, the list of complaints looks to be growing, as several users have complained about an odd Wi-Fi bug in the new operating system.

Here’s TechCrucnh with the details:

Here’s what the basic pattern seems to be: The WiFi works all right at first, but then you’re eventually booted off. If you try to get on again, it looks like you’ve connected, but then you’re redirected to a login/404 page on the Apple website. Someone named “tylerc” on Twitter offers this explanation: “Turns out iOS checks … to make sure WiFi doesn’t require login, but that page was 404′ing, so, disaster. Crazy!”

When I checked this out myself, I noticed that I had been disconnected from the TechCrunch office WiFi, but once I got on again, I didn’t have any problems. TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff had a similar experience. It also looks like the Apple page in question is up again, so the issue may be resolved. I’ve also emailed Apple in the off chance that they respond.

Read the Rest >>>

Guest Post: 11 Colleges Going All In On Mobile

The coffee shop, the grocery store, the bank; Every place we visit has some sort of mobile integration. Even colleges are making mobile a major part of both campus and academic life. The following Guest Post is  by Arianna Bush, a freelance writer for Online Colleges. The post outlines the 11 colleges that are pushing for a mobile friendly environment.

While phones were once only used to make calls and computers were largely tethered to the wall, neither is really true today. Mobile devices of all kinds, especially smartphones, are becoming tools for doing just about everything, from browsing the web to keeping up with appointments. Colleges and universities around the world have taken note, and many are developing new ways to employ these devices for education, marketing, or just getting around the campus. Here we highlight a few schools (in no particular order) that are taking mobile to the next level on their respective campuses, with programs that supply students with devices, hold large mobile conferences, or just develop loads of mobile-friendly content and applications.

1) MIT: It only makes sense that a school known for being tech-savvy (it’s in their name) would be embracing mobile technologies on campus. The school designed software called Mobile Web that makes it simple to turn a website, in this case their school website, into a mobile-friendly version that’s easier to browse. Even better, MIT is sharing the software with other colleges so everyone can get in on the mobile action. The school’s development effort, marketed as iMobileU, is proving successful and some think it might even become a rival for Blackboard, the current leader in mobile educational development but at a much lower price point: free.

2) Purdue University: One of the most impressive examples of a college embracing mobile technology, and technology in general, comes from Purdue. The school’s information technology department has developed a suite of educational tools called the Jetpack Studio that it offers to students on campus and that are slowly being opened up for use at other schools. So far, the suite of tools includes: Jetpack, an app/e-book hybrid that aims to replace traditional textbooks; Doubletake for creating video assignments and course materials; Mixable for academic social engagement; Hotseat, a Twitter-like application for facilitating class discussions; and Signals, which warns professors about students who may not be performing well in a given course. All of the programs developed by the school are designed to be used on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, making Purdue one of the leaders in the mobile learning movement.

3) Seton Hill University: At Seton Hill, students don’t need to worry about bringing their own mobile devices; the university is happy to provide all students with their own iPads. All students and faculty have been given the devices since 2012 (in addition to the MacBook Pros each incoming freshman receives). The technology distribution forms the foundation for the school’s mobile program called The Griffin Technology Advantage. The school provides both the essentials (free Wi-Fi, robust tech support) and specialized tools for learning on-the-go. The school is aiming to cater to the needs of Millennials, who they think learn differently having grown up in a largely digital age. Interactive electronic textbooks, digital handouts, and mobile-friendly websites are just some of the tech initiatives at the school. The school has received numerous awards and designations for its commitment to mobile learning, including becoming an Apple Distinguished Program.

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