How Do You Get to the Top of the App Store?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Mobile analytics firm Distimo published actual data on how many downloads it generally takes to get into the top-25 spot. The short answer: develop an amazing game. For the longer answer, let’s take a look at this recent TechCrunch article:

Turns out, in the U.S. store, the answer currently is about 38,400 daily downloads for free iPhone apps and 3,530 for paid iPhone apps. To rank in the top 25 per category, of course, takes significantly fewer downloads, with games unsurprisingly being the most competitive category. It takes 25,300 daily downloads to rank in the gaming top 25 for free apps and 2,280 downloads for paid apps.

For free apps, other competitive categories include ‘entertainment’ (6,700 daily downloads), ‘social networking’ (5,800), ‘lifestyle’ (3,900) and ‘music’ (3,900). Interestingly, in the paid app charts photography apps rank just behind games and entertainment apps. Still, it currently only takes about 270 daily downloads to rank in the photography top 25 for paid apps.

These numbers, of course, are always changing and this just represent a snapshot of what Distimo found when it compiled this data last month.

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Android Seeks World Domination

Android Stand at Mobile World CongressIn conjunction with Mobile World Congress that’s going on in Spain right now Google announced that there are more than 300 million active Android devices around the world, and the number is swiftly growing. Here it is straight from Google’s blog:

With a year-on-year growth rate of more than 250%, 850,000 new Android devices are activated each day, jetting the total number of Android devices around the world past 300 million. …

Last year at Mobile World Congress (MWC), we announced that there were more than 150,000 apps in Android Market. That number tripled to more than 450,000 apps today, with over one billion app downloads happening every month.

On a separate note, a recent study found that a good number of those 450,000 apps are downloaded by Android users for free. Strategy Analytics conducted a survey and found that free Android apps account for a higher percentage of downloads than free iOS apps (in their respective markets). Blackberry users come in right between Android and iOS users in terms of downloading free apps. Here’s a recap of the survey from PC World:

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Got An iPhone 4? Here Are The Apps You Need To Have

Even though there are some built-in applications available with a phone, we also have the option of loading it with our favorite apps. A fantastic thing about  iPhone 4 apps is it that they can be synchronized with your iPad from Mac or PC. The App Store has a wide collection of mobile apps and the following are some of the most popular iPhone applications.

Movies

You can know all about the latest movies using the ‘Movies’ which is a location based free application. Using this application, you can know a lot about reviews, trailers, ticket information and ratings including the directions to your local theatres.

Pandora

Music lovers will find the Pandora feature extremely attractive. Pandora Radio is a free music application that can keep i4 phone users upbeat. You can listen to your favorite songs easily using this feature since it is coordinated with the web. By just naming the song, you can hear it instantly!

Loopt

With Loopt, you can easily understand what is happening around you. Using this application, you can know where your family and friends are and keep in touch with them easily. Loopt in short is a very useful geo-social application that can be of great use to i4 phone users.

Twitter

Another great application that can be used for free is Twitter originally known as Tweetie. You can easily stay connected with your near and dear ones any time of the day using this free application.

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Top Ten Mobile Apps For Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. You haven’t forgotten, have you? Last minute plans for Valentine’s Day can be difficult to arrange, but don’t worry, we have you covered. If you’re worried that you’ll only get to the store in time to get a bunch of wilted roses, melted chocolate or crumbled cookies, here are some iPhone applications that will make you look more like Clark Gable, and less like Clark Griswold.

1. Cookie Doodle ($0.99) – This app allows you to prepare virtual heart shaped chocolate chip cookies covered in sprinkles. There’s even a text tool that allows you to write a special message for that special someone. This app is ten times better than burning the house down trying to bake… and a hundred times better than accidently poisoning your girlfriend.

2. Instant Poetry ($1.99) – Do you find yourself tongue tied every time you see the girl of your dreams? Instant Poetry helps you out – tap a button and rearrange the words that pop up on the screen until you’re happy with your poetic masterpiece, and then send it straight to your Valentine. They’ll be blown away by your romantic words. Just don’t panic when they expect you to be romantic in person as well…

3. Star Walk ($2.99) – What could be more romantic than gazing at the stars? But how much better would it be if you knew which constellation was which? Star Walk allows you to point your iPhone at the sky, and see which constellations and stars you are looking at. Now you can be romantic and smart at the same time!

4. Send eFlowers ($0.99) – What girl doesn’t love to get flowers? Using this app, you can send her flowers virtually. They may not be quite as good as the real thing, but they’ll keep you out of trouble until you pick up real roses for her later!

5. Valentines Radio (Free) – Check out this collection of romantic radio stations. This app gathers together radio stations with the best compilation of love songs – and if your favorite isn’t here, just email them and have them add it. This is way better than just putting your iPod on shuffle and hoping that “Baby Got Back” doesn’t come on.

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App Genome Project a Gold Mine for Testers

Earlier this week, we learned that Citigroup’s iPhone app had inadvertently saved the personal information of its users – information that could have been used for evil had it fallen into the wrong hands. We’re talking passwords, account numbers and so forth. Happens all the time.

The story actually received a decent amount of media attention (not like Lindsay Lohan or the gator feeding frenzy, but still) which sparked a long overdue discussion on the security of mobile software applications…

Which is how we learned about The App Genome Project. Set to be unveiled by mobile security firm Lookout at this week’s Black Hat Security Conference, the project is described as ” the largest mobile application dataset ever created.” It’s also a potential gold mine for mobile app testers looking for trends and data, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, here’s the stated goal of the App Genome Project:

“In an ongoing effort to map and study mobile applications, the App Genome Project was created to identify security threats in the wild and provide insight into how applications are accessing personal data, as well as other phone resources. Lookout founders John Hering and Kevin Mahaffey initiated the App Genome project to understand what mobile applications are doing and use that information to more quickly identify potential security threats.”

Very cool. Here’s what they’ve learned so far:

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Time to Panic? There’s an App For That

A hurricane is about to level your beach house. A tornado is about to take you and your car airborne. Godzilla and King Kong are about to exchange fisticuffs in your city square. You have to act fast, but what should you do?

I recommend a combination of hiding and running. FEMA, however, suggests that you log on to the mobile web, register as a new user, confirm your identity with a security question and then search their application for tips on dealing with (insert disaster here). Starting to see the problem?

So did Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, who was able to test the mobile application developed by FEMA. He writes:

FEMA allowed me to test it, which I did from my iPhone. It took about 15 minutes for me to register for my fictional disaster. I worried about two things: bandwidth and security. If tens of thousands of people applied for assistance at the same time, would FEMA servers be able to handle it all? And would the information be secure? Fugate, in an interview, said that the mobile platform was built on top of a highly secure disaster assistance infrastructure that could scale up quite quickly in the event of an emergency.  He noted that the program requires users to answer a security question with the aim of weeding out spammers and cyber criminals.

Just another reminder that when testing mobile applications, it’s important to keep the typical end user in mind.

The Futurama of Mobile Applications

Okay, so your humble editor is a huge fan of Futurama and couldn’t be happier knowing the crew is back for another season – but what’s that got to do with mobile application testing?

Glad you asked. On July 1st, 3010 2010, episode three of the new season – “Attack of the Killer App” – will deal with the future of the iPhone and other popular earth technology. Here’s the synopsis from theinfosphere.org:

“The story will deal with the future of technology such as iPhones and Twitter, with Mom controlling Twitter. Also, Fry posts an embarrassing video of Leela online. Also, somehow, a two-headed goat that throws up one end and exudes diarrhea on the other end gets involved in the story. There is some kind of contest, in which Mom controls Twitter and Bender hacks Facebook to control it. Fry and Leela take votes from citizens, asking who they think will win. Also, the crew goes to a planet that is a waste dump to eliminate e-waste. The children of the planet strip the ship and Bender for waste. Soon the crew discover that children do all of the work on the planet, except for whipping the children.”

You see? What could be more relevant to our daily mobile testing discussions?

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Mobile App Screen Size Pitfalls

A few weeks ago, when I shared my thoughts on the iPad, I noted that while the iPad will run iPhone apps, they probably wouldn’t look that great. Instead, developers would have to create new iPad apps.

“That’s fine!” you exclaim, thinking that you’ll just uprez your widgets and artwork from your iPhone app to the new iPad screen size. Problem solved, right? Apparently Apple thought so too and tried creating iPad sized versions of their default iPhone apps. And apparently that idea sucked. From Daring Fireball:

It’s not that Apple couldn’t just create bigger versions of these apps and have them run on the iPad. It wasn’t a technical problem, it was a design problem. There were, internally to Apple (of course), versions of these apps (or at least some of them) with upscaled iPad-sized graphics, but otherwise the same UI and layout as the iPhone versions. Ends up that just blowing up iPhone apps to fill the iPad screen looks and feels weird, even if you use higher-resolution graphics so that nothing looks pixelated. So they were scrapped by you-know-who.

Think this is just an Apple problem? No, it’s a mobile device problem!

Desktop and web app developers have it easy. Most computer screens are large, and any variation in size can usually be glossed over by either the OS or web browser. Nobody really uses computer screens smaller than 640×480, while many people now have 48″ screens that leave HD in the dust.

Mobile is a totally different ball game. Apps are modal, meaning your app has to account for all of the screen real estate. If it’s too big or too small, it will either fail to display or display incorrectly. Even Engadget recently lamented how they had trouble getting apps to run on the Nexus One:

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Mobile App Milestones

Hardly a week goes by without some major mobile milestone. This week appears to no exception and it’s only Monday! I’m certain that we’re missing about 1,000 other items, but here were the headlines that caught our attention this morning:

Android Tops 50,000 apps

TD Mobile iPhone App Downloaded 100,000 Times (in a weekend)

Dictionary.com Announces 10 million Downloads

Oprah Launches Mobile App (no, seriously)

Okay, so the last one wasn’t really a milestone, but it did contain a section about how PayPal is now able to be used for mobile app purchases. Hmmm, that’s not really a milestone either, but it is pretty cool. Here’s another article on that subject.

More on this later.