Tag Archives: iphone

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

IBM Seer: augmented reality and what the umpire doesn’t see at Wimbledon

Funny thing about working for an uber-company is that sometimes you learn about the cool stuff being produced through external sources. Such was the case this week when the excellent FIR podcast made an obscure mention to IBM’s augmented reality (AR) app for Wimbledon.

Tantalized, I had to look further. And this is what I discovered:

Nice, huh?

It’s like using your smart phone as a pair of those goggles sci fi writers used to dream about: superimposing the location of important places (or deadly villains) as you look around. How does it work? The app ties together the live feed from your webcam with your GPS (so the phone knows where you are) and your internal compass (to sense in which direction you are pointing). Add to that a map with all the important places at Wimbledon plotted on it (courts, cafes, info booths, toilets), and you have one very cool app. Disclaimer: this is the explanation of a vaguely technical marketer, no Einstein progeny.

OK, words and pictures will only go so far. See this app in technicolor action through the wonders of YouTube:

BTW, I should point out that this year wasn’t the first time this app was featured at Wimbledon. However, the growth in smart phone usage has made it more widespread and meant it has received more coverage.

What have others being saying about it? Chris Rawlinson points out that Ogilvy worked together with IBM to develop this technology. AugmentedPlanet give more technical background, explaining how the app was developed using the Wikitude browser. Eurodroid found the app surprisingly useful, and not just a piece of mobile marketing fluff. Tennis Video Channel point out that you can even point your phone in the direction of a court and watch live footage (for instance, if you are queuing to get in).

What are the wider implications of a tool like this? I’d suggest it’s overkill for your average company picnic (although could be reassuring to tag your boss and know where they are at all times to avoid any embarrassments), however if you are involved in planning large events, there could be some real value here.

For instance, if you can tie this up with an event management tool, attendees can bookmark their sessions and use an AR application to navigate to the next session. You could also point attendees to places of interest, such as book signings or special events. To cover housekeeping, it makes sense to add toilet facilities, cafes, etc.

Any other applications or case studies around augmented reality you’d like to share? Let me know!

WordPress for iPhone now available

For all you geeks-on-the-go, the folk at WordPress have introduced WordPress for iPhone: an open source app that lets you synch your blog and write posts directly from your iPhone:

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This should be compatible with all versions of WordPress beyond 2.5.1.