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New mobile devices? No problem: 5 steps to ensure quality in your apps

Eran Kinsbruner DevOps Chief Evangelist, Perforce
Samsung S8

Over a dozen new smartphones launched at Mobile World Congress, and with every new sensor feature or screen-size adjustment, mobile innovation is showing no sign of slowing. This is exciting, right? Well, it is for consumers, who get access to the most technologically advanced toys to date, and for OEMs, which profit from it all. But it can’t be smooth sailing for everyone, and even though developers embrace new technology like everyone else, it can often throw kinks in their workflow and shake up their testing plans.

When a bunch of new phones are released at once, users will expect that no matter which new device they choose, their user experience will go unchanged. Since app quality and ease of use are now expected, it’s up to developers and testers to ensure that, from a UX perspective, no one will notice that their new operating system capabilities or screen sizes have changed, and all their apps will work like magic.

But before we reach the “like magic” part, developer and test teams have some work to do. The planning and experimental phase following new product previews can be really overwhelming—especially when they come in waves (or tsunamis). But if you’re armed with the right intel to guide your testing process, there’s no reason for panic.

Here are five steps that will help you get moving in the right direction.

1. Plan: Keep your team up to speed

Depending on your existing test automation suite, accommodating a slew of new devices can potentially slow your team down. If your testing script separates the object items from the business logic, you’re in the clear. If not, this will be a really time-consuming task that you’ll need to account for.

2. Prioritize: Adoption rate-driven dev

Not every new device gets immediate traction and adoption, and that leaves room to tackle the most pressing updates first. Devices with massive market share, such as the Samsung S8, S8 Edge, LG G6, and Huawei, will require a faster response than other devices, and it is recommended to get hands-on testing within the first quarter post launch. For devices with lower adoptions rates, such as Lenovo and Asus, you can de-prioritize and act upon specific customer requests as they appear.

3. Prepare: What you don't know can hurt you

Testing is the only way to know how your app will perform on a new device. New devices often run on brand-new hardware, and sometimes new OSs—making the probability of finding issues much higher than on existing devices. They also may be using new technologies your apps have never been exposed to before, such as touch sensors, split-screen capabilities, or GPS, along with new permissions and security policies.

4. Support: Out with the old, in with the new? 

Adding a new version of a device to your testing plan doesn’t mean you can drop an older version. Retirement of older devices and/or OSs can only be done based on analytics, statistics, and other trends. People are still using various legacy devices such as the old iPad 2, iPad Air, and Samsung S3, among others, and such devices are still part of the mix and should be treated accordingly. Resources such as the Digital Test Coverage Index can help guide this decision-making process.

5. Testing, testing: Do what it takes to get it done

Testing challenges on new devices will pop up on a case-by-case basis. New OSs will come with new capabilities, and some of them might not be easy to test for automatically. Similarly, new devices that introduce features such as face recognition (such as the Samsung Note 7 or the upcoming Note 8 and iPhone 8, etc.) will be a challenge to automate, but can’t be neglected in testing—even if that leaves manual testing as the only option.  

With the right systems in place, your team will be seasoned to overcome whatever hurdles the new wave of phone releases may bring. And who knows? Your users may even thank you (but more likely they won't even notice). 

Image credit: Flickr

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