Testing options for app developers

Testing options for app developers

Most mobile app developers run countless tests before releasing their apps, but glitches still occur after release. Emulators and simulators can help developers who don’t have access to beta testers cut down on such surprises, giving them an inexpensive way to see how their apps will look and work on different platforms.

According to DigitalGov, both Xcode for Apple iOS and Android SDK let developers test apps on a range of mobile devices running either Google’s Android or iOS. The Chrome Device Mode and Mobile Emulation tool built into Chrome version 32 and later shows how an app will look on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

According to a Sauce Labs study cited by DigitalGov, developers are nearly evenly divided in their testing preferences, with 29 percent of developers using only simulators or emulators and 37 percent using real devices only. The remaining 34 percent use a combination of simulators, emulators and real mobile devices to test their products.

(An emulator is an application that mimics a mobile device's software, hardware and operating systems. A simulator is a simpler imitation; it simulates a device's display and behavior of a device, but does not emulate hardware and does not work over the real operating system.)

Simulators and emulators are economical tools for early testing, DigitalGov said, but many app features are better tested on actual devices such as usability, hardware components, networking and interaction with other software such as web browsers and GPS.

To get a large pool of volunteers and their devices for its own testing of the beta version of USA.gov responsive website, DigitalGov is asking the public to help document how the site performs on multiple devices and operating systems.

According to DigitalGov, volunteers need a mobile device and about an hour for each device tested.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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