Investment or strategy: Smartphones and Tablets for development and test

One of the most overlooked parts of mobile application development is the need to invest in smartphone devices for development and testing.  Often companies rely on developers and testers to do testing on their own devices. Stakeholders also test on their own devices to do user acceptance.

All this helps get your app out the door to the stores and into the hands of your users but it doesn’t ensure that your app will work on their devices.

Apple has released new phones 2 times every year for the past 3 years.  Samsung the popular Android phone maker has released 2-5 phones a year for the past 4 years in their S-Series alone.  They have several other series that they also release on a regular basis. Google, LG, HTC & Sony are other Android phone makers who also release new devices on yearly basis.  

On top of device releases Apple and Android also update their operating systems on a regular basis.

If your app is consumer facing then you have no control over which one of these devices your users will have to use your app.

There are test services available in Amazon as well as Microsoft that help app developers test their apps on all available devices.  However, these tests have to be automated and mostly test UI. App developers will have to allocate resources, time and budget to develop and maintain the automation scripts.  This may not be option for you if your device requires hardware level features of the phone such audio/video and camera.

There are also device rental services available where an app developer can rent devices for a specific time to test their apps.  However, in our research the cost to use these services are almost as much as buying the devices.

Software simulators are available for iOS devices and some of the Android devices. But this also has limitations if you have to test native hardware level features of the device.

Given all these challenges there is no solution available at this time to help developers ensure that your app will function as designed on all the devices out there.  You have to release the app and rely on user feedback or iOS app crash logs in XCode or in Google Play’s ANRs & Crashes website. However, the crash logs will not help with UI related issues.  You could use the test services from Microsoft or Amazon to test UI and use the crash logs to monitor app crashes on devices that you weren’t able to test.

A good user feedback, error logging and test automation strategies are essential overcome the device challenges that you as an app developer will inevitably face.

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