Most Popular Smartphones in the Work Place

Most desired SmartphoneOn Monday we posted about CNET’s Friday Poll that asked readers who they thought was the top mobile manufacturer. Samsung came out on top of that informal survey … and according at a slightly more official survey conducted by Sophos the preference for an Android device wasn’t a fluke.

Sophos’ survey polled 500 people last year and focused on smartphones in the workplace. Here’s what they asked:

  • What phone OS does your company supply you with?
  • What phone OS do you WISH your company supplied you with?
  • Would you put up with more security on your personal smartphone if you could access work data?

The responses show that Blackberry is still on top when it comes to work issued phones, being in the hands of 37% of the respondents. 22% said they use work supplied iPhones and 20% are using Androids.

When it comes to what OS workers WISH their company supplied, Android pulled almost half of the vote. From Sophos:

When we asked you what smartphone you wished your company supplied you with, a whopping 41% said you wanted a smartphone running Google Android. Less than a third coveted Apple iPhone.

I found this a little surprising. True, you do have more flexibility with Android when compared to the iPhone. But the Google Play Android marketplace is currently more prone to malware; Google currently don’t police it as stringently as Apple manages its app store.

And finally, most pollees said they wouldn’t have a problem uping the security on their personal phones, but 28% would want their company to foot the monthly phone bills if that were the case.

 

#SXSW Apps Tested by uTest

For the second year in a row, uTest will be making an appearance at SXSW, the world-famous music/film/interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Unlike last year – where we spent most of our time eating, drinking and schmoozing with storm troopers – we have some new, big plans in store.

The obvious difference is that we’ll be cruising around Austin in the RVIP Lounge, hitting up hotspots, giving rides, singing karaoke (poorly) and playing host to SXSW attendees throughout the week. More to come on that, but you can follow @InTheWildTest for deets on our adventures, and real-time locations if you’re at SXSW..

The other difference is that, instead of just talking about the merits of in-the-wild testing, we decided to show a real-world demonstration. So, over the last 36 hours, we assembled a select group of US-based testers to put the official SXSW mobile apps through their paces. In-the-wild testing means live testers, real devices, imperfect connectivity… basically, true real-world conditions. So we went to work testing SXSW’s official apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. For iOS and Android, we also included tablet testing, to bring the comparison total to six.

Below are some top-level results (note that each category ranged from 1-5):

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% of Total Bugs 17.7% 18.3% 18% 6.6% 23% 16.4%
Overall Score 4.1 4.0 4.6 4.7 3.8 4.2
Usability & Design 4.2 4.1 4.6 4.8 4.1 4.2
Features & Functionality 4.1 4.1 4.7 4.7 3.2 3.9
Application & Performance 3.3 3.2 3.9 4.0 3.5 3.7

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Of course, these figures only tell part of the story. As the apps were tested in terms of functionality, performance, design, connectivity and other factors, several issues popped up on more than one occasion. Here were a few areas where some notable bugs were uncovered:

  • Incorrect time displays
  • Sync issues with registration and deleted items
  • Crashes on various tablet OS versions
  • Issues with installation
  • Social media integration
  • Issues with rating and uploading photos

It should be noted that despite these issues, the overall reaction from our community was positive for each of these applications. In fact, the overall ratings you see above are substantially higher than the industry norms, so kudos to the respective dev teams.

Anyway, if you’re at SXSW and want to learn more about In-The-Wild Testing, be sure to stop by the RVIP Lounge. If you’re not able to attend, then head on over to inthewildtesting.com.

Top Apps of 2012 … So Far

AppsForget the other 10 months of the year, THESE are THE apps of 2012! At least, the lists that are starting to pop up would have you think so.

Time put out a list of the “50 Best iPhone Apps 2012.” I can’t tell if they’re in any particular order, but numbers 1-10 are:

  • Find My iPhone
  • ShopSavvy
  • Dragon Go!
  • Weather Underground
  • Kayak
  • GasBuddy
  • Angry Birds
  • MapQuest 4 Mobile
  • Fandango
  • Yelp

Check out the full list at Time >>>

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BlackBerry Tries to Jumpstart App Interest

Wish you had a BlackBerry Playbook to add to your testing matrix arsenal? Well, if you have any developer skills and create an app for RIM’s App World by Feb. 13 you could get one for free! The offer was announced on Twitter by Alec Saunders, RIM VP of Developer Relations, last week.

@asaunders

Maybe this offer will spark interest in BlackBerry apps and lead to the need for more Playbook testers.

(Thanks to Engadget for sharing this tidbit)

iPhone Beats Out Blackberry

iPhone v BlackberryiPhones and Androids have been quickly rising in popularity over the past few years but the Blackberry has managed to hold strong in its place as the supreme business smartphone … until this year. According to a quarterly survey by iPass, iPhones have now taken over in the world of enterprise. Wired has the scoop:

Crushed under an avalanche of Angry Birds, FourSquare check-ins, and Skype chatter, the BlackBerry is finally losing its grip on the enterprise.

At least, that’s what mobile services seller iPass found in its latest survey of people who use mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones for work.

Last year, mobile workers surveyed by iPass reported that more companies allowed BlackBerries than any other smartphone — nearly 35 percent, compared to 31 percent for the iPhone. Now the iPhone reigns supreme. This year, it was allowed in 45 percent of the 1,100 companies surveyed, compared to just 32 percent for the BlackBerry.

Google’s Android is making inroads too. The iPass survey found that Android usage had jumped from 11 percent in 2010 to 21 percent this year.

What’s going on? Corporate IT is loosening its grip on mobile devices, says Kevin Murray vice president of product marketing at iPass. “Back in the day the corporation bought your phone and they told you what you were going to have,” he says. Now fewer companies are provisioning smartphones. “They’re saying you can bring your iPhone in and we’re going to give you access.”

And it’s not just so that social media addicts can post Twitter updates from the water cooler.

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RIM Targets Students for App Development

And perhaps testing, too. Here’s the story from msn.com:

Blackberry-maker Research-in Motion today said it will offer engineering students BASE (BlackBerry Application Student Entrepreneur) platform to enable them display their creativity in developing applications for its mobile phones.

The service, which will be available in Tamil Nadu, would help third- and fourth-year engineering students develop applications that would be used in AppWorld, BlackBerry Research in Motion India Head of Alliances Annie Mathew said.

AppWorld is the application store of Blackberry.

“It is an excellent example on academicia-industry collaboration. BASE would help them develop applications that will be made available in AppWorld,” she told reporters here.

She said this is the first time that such an initiative was taken by Research in Motion and the reason to select Tamil Nadu was it producing good number engineering graduates.

Read the rest >>>

Mobile App Testing: You Know, For Startups

Big news from the front lines of mobile app testing. As of yesterday, early-stage startups in the mobile space now have an easy, affordable way to get their applications tested and reviewed by a team of professional testers.

The service is called uTest Express, and it’s been built for all of the major mobile operating systems, including  iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, WinMo and Symbian. Below are some more details from uTest CMO Matt Johnston, who announced the service yesterday on the uTest Blog.

Express makes it easy to get real-world testing and expert feedback that meets your needs and budget. Oh, did we forget to mention that plans start at only $499? That’s half of what you probably spent on Red Bull and Starbucks while you were building your location-based, freemium, socially-linked, caffeine-free, voice-powered, 3D, virtual reality, highly-addictive, semantic-searching, gaming-layered, hybrid-powered, native app, right?.

For each project, uTest handpicks members of its tester community from North America who best match the testing requirements and have the right mobile devices and operating systems. The customer’s mobile application is then tested professionally on real devices across real carriers, providing real-world testing results and expert feedback that aren’t possible with emulators, simulators or remote access.

At the conclusion of each project, customers receive a list of well-documented bugs, including screenshots and videos with steps to reproduce them. They also receive expert feedback from the testers about the application – including app ratings and feedback for interface design, usability, app performance and more. To learn more about how it works, watch this brief Product Tour.

Here are a few key features of the service:

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Toyota’s Mobile App Strategy

If you’re small company (or a lone developer) it would be wise to follow in the footsteps of giants. Consider Toyota’s mobile strategy. First came the idea: the company wanted to build an app that would let consumers shop among its 16 types of vehicles. They would be able browse more than 130 color options, find nearby dealers, and even take pictures of a vehicle identification number.

Next up, they would need to figure out which platform they would develop (and test) their application on. This is where the story gets interesting. Here’s a few snippets from a recent MacWorld.com piece:

What mobile device should Toyota design for? BlackBerry? That would not have been very kaizen. “If we had developed for RIM devices first and ported to the iPhone, you could have an argument that we were dumbing down our app,” says Michael K. Nelson, interactive communications manager at Toyota who handles Toyota.com. “RIM is not a very sophisticated platform at all.”

Toyota eventually delivered a mobile shopping app tuned for the iPhone, but then followed up with an Android app two weeks later and a BlackBerry app two weeks after that. Then Toyota added the VIN-photo feature to all three platforms. Today, Toyota is working on a tablet app that takes advantage of the iPad 2’s camera.

Companies looking to tap into the power of mobile apps often think they either have to develop a native app for a single platform or a vanilla app for multiple platforms. A native app leverages all of a platforms strengths yet risks the future if the platform falters. A vanilla app can run on and add features across platforms yet usually doesn’t offer a compelling user experience.

In the early days of smartphones, there was only one clear choice for app developer: iPhones. But the emergence of Android devices and all of its OS flavors has cast a harsh light on the issue. A recent Nielsen survey found that Android is the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States, surpassing both iPhone and BlackBerry; mobile app developers can no longer ignore the Android platform.

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How App Stores Woo Developers

All you mobile app developers: You may not get roses sent to your office, or chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but let there be no mistake. As you sit behind your dual monitors designing slick interfaces and cracking out code, you’re being courted by the App Stores. Every type of company with a storefront– the platforms, device manufacturers, carriers, independent app ‘superstores’— knows that you have the power to make or break their commercial success based on which ones you decide to develop for.

But you know this. And you also know that some app stores are a whole lot better at courting talent than others. The good ones know that you don’t want roses or chocolate (well, occasionally wouldn’t hurt, right?). What you really want is a faster, more streamlined approval process and a pricing structure that makes it worth your while. You’re under a ton of pressure to speed your product to market, and probably feel the heat most when you’re doing the testing necessary to make sure you get those 5-star reviews out the gate…versus the dreaded 2-stars. [cue the scary music]

That’s why RIM gets kudos this week for listening to the developer community and making a series of announcements on their dev blog that will simplify the Blackberry app store certification process. Among them, they removed the requirement that developers must submit notarized proof of identification to distribute their apps on their storefront. They also posted some educational information to make it easier for developers to build apps for the BlackBerry Playbook.

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Starbucks Mobile Apps Make Grande Debut

If you’ve followed the progress of mobile payment applications, you probably know that Starbucks is among the industry leaders. For the past several months, the coffee giant has been refining their mobile apps that allow patrons pay with their iPhone or Blackberry device.

After months of testing in specific markets (which we covered here and here) Starbucks officially unveiled its new apps earlier this morning. Here’s PC Mag with the top line:

The Starbucks Card Mobile App has been available since last year, and initially let all users check their Starbucks card balance, reload the card, and view transactions. Starbucks also kicked off a mobile payment test in certain Seattle, Northern California, New York, and Target store locations; it has now expanded that feature nationwide.

Mobile payment is available on iPhone and iPod touch devices running iOS 4.0 or higher. BlackBerry users can also access it by texting “GO” to 70845 or visiting the Starbucks mobile site. Supported BlackBerry devices include the BlackBerry 8800 series, BlackBerry Bold, Curve, Storm, Storm2, and Tour.

The last paragraph really highlights the enormous challenge that is mobile app testing. Aside from location – which sounds like a major undertaking –  the app had to be tested against numerous device makes and models. Notice also the lack of iOS coverage, as the app will only work on iOS 4or higher. I’m sure the dev team would have loved to make the app available on more operating systems, but such is the challenges of the mobile app testing matrix.

In any event, keep your eye on mobile payments systems. They look to be all the rage in 2011.