Mobile application developers: test ‘in the wild’ with DeviceAnywhere

Developing for a fragmented environment will always be a challenge, but few application environments are as fragmented as the mobile space. Whilst Apple’s iPhone and iPad are stealing the bulk of the limelight, according to recent comScore figures, Apple has less than 10% of the total mobile market. Users are spread across Samsung, LG, Motorola, RIM, amongst other providers.

This obviously presents a major headache if you are looking to get your app into the hands of as many users as possible. For instance, if you are developing for the Android OS (the #2 smartphone in the US), you can use the generic emulator that ships with the Android SDK to roughly know what the app will look like. But do you know how the app will perform on the multitude of devices that each have their own distinct flavor – say the HTC Incredible or the Samsung Galaxy S or the Motorola Droid?

Netflix, the US video rental service, recently encountered this problem and states this as one of the reasons it is delaying its Android launch, claiming that having to work with each individual handset manufacturer "is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won’t." Bottom line: there isn’t just one mobile space, but literally hundreds split across multiple operating systems, devices and networks. Testing and deploying across all of these is not easy.

DeviceAnywhere offers developers a solution to run tests across every major device out there: and see exactly what the end user will experience on each device. Walmart, Target, Amazon and Disney are among some of the companies who have already jumped on board to test their mobile applications.

So how does the solution work? The DeviceAnywhere team have effectively hard-wired the input/output of every major mobile device up to a server.

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Using their client software, a developer anywhere in the world can access a device and push buttons, tap touch screens, simulate open, close and flip activities, remove the battery, and have the audio and video feedback from a device, all from the comfort of their own workstation. The service doesn’t just stop at phones. DeviceAnywhere are also keeping abreast of the growth in tablet devices – for instance you can even control the Apple iPad using the software:

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Given the prominence of a wide range of tablets at this year’s Computer Electronics Show (CES), expect to see increasing interest in this area.

Tests can be scripted and automated and scheduled to run at intervals, and complex interactions involving multiple devices (e.g. mobile-to-mobile chat), looping and/or branching logic, or data-driven scripts are also supported. With servers located across the globe, developers can see how their apps will perform in different locations, much to the delight of Juan Carlos Gonzálvez, Managing Director of Games at Zed:

"We can now test on more devices in more locations, where it wouldn’t have been cost-effective or practical before DeviceAnywhere. As a result, our whole Quality Assurance program is more robust and efficient than before. We are also realizing significant cost-savings because we no longer have to maintain a large bank of mobile devices for testing."

Integration with Rational Quality Manager for testing across multiple platforms

DeviceAnywhere is integrated with Rational Quality Manager (RQM), allowing developers to test their applications on real mobile devices from within the Rational environment. All results from tests on mobile devices (script steps, test pass or fail results) are tracked by RQM and available through the RQM interface. This is particularly useful if you develop across different environments – for instance if you have an app with a web and mobile interface.

Integration with Tivoli Netcool

Ensuring that wireless services are constantly available is becoming increasingly important to businesses and consumers. Whilst this is true of any deployment environment, the problem is aggravated in the mobile realm with more points of failure (eg. a network may be down, device hardware conflicts may occur or software can crash). The MonitorAnywhere service from DeviceAnywhere lets businesses monitor mobile services and applications on devices across the globe around-the-clock. Integrating this service with the Tivoli Netcool Dashboard provides real-time alerts and notifications of failures and service level agreement (SLA) violations. Using this technology, you can detect issues with the delivery of mobile applications before your users do and minimize downtime.

Summary

As more and more applications are developed in the mobile space, testing and monitoring the end-user experience across multiple devices and networks becomes increasingly important. DeviceAnywhere offer solutions to take risk out of the mobile application development process. Add on IBM technologies and you can extend these solutions further into the areas of testing on multiple platforms and monitoring availability.

CIO article: Disaster-Proof Your Mobile App Before Rollout

More on Rational/Tivoli/DeviceAnywhere solutions on PartnerWorld and in this demo