How Top Android Apps are Tested

Android MatrixWe talk about the testing matrix, well, all the time. It can seem intimidating. And, in fact, that was the complaint from some readers regarding a recent TechCrunch article detailing how a few developers test their Android apps.

Striving to uphold journalistic integrity and remain unbiased, TechCrunch writer Kim-Mai Cutler took the complaints to heart and reached out to more developers to get a fuller picture of Android QA practices. Here’s a snapshot of how four developers with successful apps do their testing (from TechCrunch):

Red Robot Labs (Veteran founding team from EA, Playdom and Crowdstar. More than 3.5 million downloads. They currently have the #27 top-grossing game in the Google Play store.)

Red Robot uses about 12 devices in-house and has a quality assurance team of two people. They then use a U.K.-based company called Testology to get further coverage with 35 handsets.

Pocket Gems (More than 70 million downloads. Newer to Android, but they had two of the top 10 grossing iOS games for all of last year according to Apple’s iTunes Rewind. #35 top-grossing game in Google Play.)

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Mobile Employees are Workaholics

Mobile employees are workaholicsHopefully you enjoyed a long weekend with no work whatsoever. But if you work in mobile that probably wasn’t the case. According to a new study by iPass, an enterprise global WI-FI network provider, mobile employees tend to be workaholics. From PCWorld:

Almost two-thirds of mobile employees say they are working 50 to 60 hour-plus weeks, with most working weekends too, according to research. …

Enterprise global Wi-Fi network provider iPass surveyed 1,700 mobile employees at 1,100 enterprises worldwide, and found there was almost a 20 percent increase in a year of mobile workers reporting they were waking up through the night due to stress.

The survey also found that 88 percent of these wireless heads thought cable-free access was “as important to their lives, or almost, as running water and electricity”. Another 95 percent reported significant reductions in their job productivity without wireless access.

Also, 58 percent of mobile workers expressed frustration accessing corporate applications that are not optimised for smartphones and tablets.

Maybe not surprisingly mobile usage is causing “slightly increased friction” in mobile workers’ personal lives with their partners, family and friends. The highest amount of friction was reported in Europe at 38 percent.

Read the full article at PCWorld >>>

How many hours a week do you work? Are there any times when you totally put away all electronic devices?

And ANOTHER App Store! This Time it’s Gamefly

Gamefly goes mobileIn February I wrote about Mozilla’s plans to launch a cross-platform app store. Two weeks ago I wrote about Facebook’s new app center. And here we are again, with another new app store announcement. I’m beginning to feel like a broken record.

This time Gamefly, the video game subscription company, is throwing its hat in the ring. Not only is the company planning on producing Android and iOS apps, it will also create its own gaming app hub for Android. From the Gamefly press release (via engadget):

GameFly, Inc., the leading video game service, announced today its plans to begin publishing mobile games for the iOS and Android platforms, as well as launching the independent GameFly GameStore for Android later this fall. …

GameFly will also expand its mission to be the top resource for all gaming needs, offering expertly curated Android games in the GameFly GameStore with thousands of the best games and daily deals. With its large social network for gamers, game discovery will also be made easier via friend recommendations, and ratings and reviews from fellow gamers.

“GameFly is dedicated to giving consumers the best user experience possible, and to be their single destination for console, PC and mobile gaming needs,” said Sean Spector, GameFly co-founder and SVP of Business Development and Content. “We plan to be a leading player in mobile games by launching our retail GameStore for Android.”

Read the full press release at engadget>>>

Picture This: Android Fragmentation Across 4K Devices

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well in the case of Android fragmentation – a subject discussed at great length here and on the uTest blog – a picture is worth a few thousand devices.

The image you’re seeing is a data chart of thousands of separate device models encountered by the dev team at OpenSignalMaps over the course of a six month period. It may not be a flashy infographic, but it’s one of the best visuals I’ve seen to convey the challenge of Android hardware fragmentation. Here with more details on the chart (and on Android fragmentation in general) is arstechnica:

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Native Apps and Mobile Web Meet in the Middle

Meeting in the middle to form oneThe debate has been raging for awhile: Which will win out? Mobile websites or native apps?

There have been solid arguments for both and even hybrid compromises (like native app icons that take you to a mobile site). But another melding of the two forms has just appeared in the form on CNET’s new mobile site.

In an article published yesterday CNET details how the design aesthetics of a native app influenced the redesign of their mobile site. The thought they put into their site is thorough and interesting and might just give mobile site designers a few ideas to think about and build on. Here’s what CNET did:

We know that there’s nothing as frustrating as a hard-to-navigate mobile Web site. There’s so little space on a phone screen that every pixel has to earn its keep. So when we redesigned our m.cnet.com site from the ground up, we took cues from something everyone knows and loves: mobile apps.

First, we simplified the layout of our mobile site and made its navigation familiar to anyone who uses Facebook, Path, or any other common mobile app. …

Just because m.cnet.com looks like an app doesn’t mean that is an app, though. Anytime you click a link that takes you to a CNET page on your phone’s browser, you’ll get this experience whether you’ve installed a CNET app or not. We’ve made our article pages clean and easy to read, with standard sharing navigation at the upper right.

Get more details at CNET >>>

Has anyone used the new CNET mobile site? What do you think of it? Is it intuitive and easy to navigate or did CNET miss their mark? Is the concept of “native app design for mobile web” something you think will or should catch on?

70% of Companies Planning App within 18 Months

Mobile App BandwagonThe readers of the SD Times (Software Development Times) are probably a fairly good subset of the population to poll when you’re interested in how many companies are buying into the mobile app phenomenon. Well BZ Research (another arm of SD Times’ owner BZ Media) did just that and found that 70% of its respondents planned on having a mobile app within the next 18 months. No word on how many people took part in the survey.

Here’s a few numbers for you:

  • Of those already building apps tablet specific apps are betting out phone-targeted apps 88.1% to 82.3%
  • Apps for e-readers are grabbing the attention of 9.8% of companies
  • Android apps barely beat out iOS at a rate of 63.9% versus 63.6%
  • 1 in 5 companies are developing for Blackberry

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Is Mobile Fragmentation Good?

Mobile FragmentationWe write a lot about the scope of mobile fragmentation (particularly within Android) and the vastness of the testing matrix related to that fragmentation. Usually it’s viewed as a pain in the side of developers because it makes it difficult to know how their apps will preform across different devices/OS/etc. It’s also a pain for testers and end users who are upset when a glaring bug appears or an app isn’t offered for their device.

But the folks over at Sourcebits (a development company) used some space in VentureBeat to counter that assertion. In fact, they present five reason mobile fragmentation is actually good for developers! Here’s a summary of their five reasons:

Big fish, small pond

Look at Amazon’s Android-based, highly customized Kindle Fire. Small platform, some might say — perhaps even a niche within a niche. But that’s actually a positive. “We’re seeing impressive uptake on Kindle Fire and Amazon’s marketplace,” said Nat Trienens, co-founder and Director of Mobile Services for Fuzz Productions in New York. “There aren’t as many apps in that market, so there’s a bigger opportunity to get better market position.”

Mobile is really, really, really big

There are currently almost 6 billion people on the globe who have a mobile phone, according to the International Telecommunications Union. 6. Billion. People. That’s a lot. And many of them have or will soon have smartphones: IDC tells us that 491 million smartphones were shipped in 2011.

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How to Make Your App Come Out On Top

Targeting Keywords for App Store OptimizationSEO has been a buzz word for a good few years now, but that’s old news. Now it’s all about ASO, “App Store Optimization.”

Until now the best way to score app downloads was to be featured in one of the app stores. And to do this you either A. had to be getting a ton of downloads anyway or B. have an amazing app that happened to get picked up by the people running the store and highlighted in the featured apps area – not an easy feat. But now a new movement of optimizing apps for search is getting into full swing. I wrote a few months ago about optimizing your app name for easier on-device searching (after it’s already been downloaded). Now that concept of app optimization is being put into practice with an eye toward app store searches, this time targeting the keywords used to describe an app. From TechCrunch:

With over 600,000+ iOS applications, and now some 450,000 on Android, the real challenge for developers is having their app surfaced higher than hundreds of other competitors in the app store search results. Doing this correctly involves ASO, or app store optimization. It’s basically SEO repurposed for mobile….

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Amazon Appstore Earns Devs More than Android Market

Amazon AppstoreNot only is Apple’s App Store a bigger payday for developers than the Android Market, now a Distimo study is saying Amazon’s Appstore also earns devs a bigger haul. From Gigaom:

Investment in Amazon Appstore is paying off in a big way for many top developers, a good chunk of whom are pulling in more money for their apps on Amazon than through Google’s Android Market. App analytics firm Distimo, in its latest monthly report, laid out how despite its much smaller collection of apps,  the Appstore is becoming a lucrative place for app makers to do business.

Distimo said that of the top 110 apps that appear in both the  Android Market and Amazon Appstore, 42 of them make more money on Amazon than on Android Market. Overall, 28 percent of the revenue in those top apps came from the Appstore. …

Amazon Appstore is turning out to be a great place for paid app downloads, compared to Android Market which monetizes better through in-app purchase. …

While Android Market generated 22 times more new apps than the Appstore in September last year, by December and January, the number of new apps on Amazon had surged, cutting the Market’s advantage for new apps to about 5-1.

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Low-End Smartphones Mean More Testing

Some apps require too much memoryThe recent introduction of low-end (cheaper) smartphones has hit a tiny testing snag … not all apps will work on them. Nokia and ZTE have already announced their intentions to make these “low-end” devices that will run Windows Mobile with 256MB of memory and 7X27 processors. But Microsoft recently commented that, as things stand now, 5% of existing Windows Phone apps won’t work with the new, lower system requirements. PCWorld has more info:

The company had identified 5 percent of current apps that won’t run properly on the lower end devices. Earlier in the day a Microsoft executive said there are currently 65,000 apps available in the market.

The company will contact the developers of those apps to advise them of how to make their apps compatible with the new phones, he said. He also wrote that in most cases the apps would be required to use less memory.

Developers of those apps can also decide not to make their app available to the new phones.

Read the full article at PCWorld >>>

That means that if developers want their apps for work on ALL Windows supported phones they’re going to have to backtrack and rejigger their apps. This means more testing, which means there’s going to be a demand for testers who own these low-end phones. Heads up all you niche testers out there!