5 Things to Know About Mobile

Future of MobileLast week Gigaom held its Mobilize 2012 event. Speakers discussed the current state of mobile, analyzed how quickly it is evolving and made a few forecasts for the future. Gigaom’s Kevin C. Tofel took all those talks and picked out five themes that kept cropping up. Here’s a few snippets from Kevin’s “Future of Mobile: 5 takeaways from Mobilze 2012.”

  • Don’t count out HTML5 just yet. Mark Zuckerberg may not have been happy with HTML 5 for Facebook, but Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow said, ”In my mind, we’re moving more towards a world where apps are basically bookmarks for mobile websites.”
  • The “point of sale” is now everywhere. While near-field communications (NFC) payment methods haven’t yet taken off significantly, alternative solutions that align more with traditional payments are becoming popular.
  • Video is becoming a primary mobile activity. Google’s YouTube is now delivering 25 percent of its content to mobile devices and the figure is likely to rise
  • Connected homes will only appeal if the solutions are simple and add value.Watch for more plug-and-play modules that talk seamlessly with each other instead of more complex, centralized home servers for connected homes.
  • Developers need to consider the broadband their software needs. Third party apps that eat through gobs of mobile broadband could [be] passed over for similar apps that use less data.

Read the full article at Gigaom >>>

A few of these points are pertinent right now (broadband considerations, mobile video). A few are teetering on the edge and could crash down on the mobile market any day now (mobile payment, HTML5). While widespread prevalence of connected homes still seems fairly distant. But the major take away from these five key points made at Mobilize 2012 is that the mobile world is still turbulent and changing, and we’ll have to keep a sharp eye if we want to stay ahead of the wave. Who knows where it will end up.

The Maps App Battle: Google vs. Apple

The release of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 has brought about a new debate in terms of app quality: Does Apple or Google offer a better maps app experience? There have been mixed reviews, but the majority seems to claim that Apple’s map is just not on Google’s level. This is to be expected since Apple is new to the game. But what is Apple lacking?

Edward C. Baig of CIO Today drew a few conclusions about both maps applications after some testing:

“When it comes to Maps, give Google the advantage.

I’m not pleased that the public transportation routing feature that had been available in the Google Maps app for the iPhone is not included in the Maps app that Apple delivers with iOS 6, at least directly. You can still get those directions for buses and trains through third-party options that pop up when you request such routing through the new app.

For example, when I asked for transit directions from my Midtown Manhattan office to a building on the Upper West Side, more than two dozen app options appeared, most of them free but some that will cost you a subway ride or two.

It’s also too bad that the new Maps app lacks the ‘Street Views’ Google provided.

Others have pointed to fewer listings for points of interest, stores and restaurants in the databases Apple is using compared with its rival. And some of the slams are coming from as far away as ‘across the pond.’ BBC News, for example, wrote that users ‘reported missing local places, such as schools, or strange locations; and provided a screen shot that ‘showed a furniture museum that was apparently located in a river’.”

Clearly Apple’s mobile app still needs some in-the-wild testing, and has a bit of a ways to go. The advantage Apple does have to Google maps is the spoken turn-by-turn directions feature – that Google had kept out of the iOS version of Google Maps.

What do you prefer; Google or the new Apple maps? Share your thoughts on the two mobile applications in the comments section.



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.