Virtual Reality Headsets You Need To Know In 2015

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Virtual reality (VR) may sound like an incomplete relic of the 90s, but modern technology is set to bring a whole new level of immersion to gaming. VR tracks head movement in three dimensions, allowing users to feel like they’re inside a game or movie. A variety of VR headsets, some futuristic, others quaint as cardboard, will hit store shelves in the next couple of years. Read about some of the most anticipated ones below.

Oculus Rift

The seed that grew into a phenomenon, Oculus Rift set the gaming world ablaze when it was first announced. The Kickstarter-funded VR headset connects to a computer via DVI and USB peripherals and tracks head movement to output three-dimensional images to its display. Facebook was quick to snatch up the device for $2 billion. Recent updates to Oculus Rift, codenamed ‘Crescent Bay’, introduces a literally revolutionary 360-degree perspective, stunning 1080i graphics, and refined movement tracking to catch even the most subtle head twitches. The current price for Oculus Rift sits at $350.

Avegant Glyph

While most VR headsets go for the all-out, bulky futuristic look, the Avegant Glyph offers a more modest profile. The sleek, lightweight headset shuns the use of large touch screens to display images, instead leveraging micro mirrors to reflect images straight into a user’s retina. The Glyph wears like a snug pair of headphones to start. Upon unsheathing the screen, users can enjoy crisp 720p graphics in each eye, with a modest 45-degree field of vision. Avegant has stated that the limited scope helps mitigate visual fatigue and motion sickness. Set for release in autumn 2015, the Avegant Glyph sports a hefty price tag for its humble size at $499.

Samsung Gear VR

Design-wise, the Samsung Gear VR looks like a polished 90s device. The headset blends form and function to offer a balanced, user-friendly experience with traditional overtones. Powered by the lauded Oculus Rift, the Gear VR has a lens slot and Micro USB dock where users simply insert their Samung Galaxy phone and immerse themselves in the Super AMOLED screen. The Gear VR already sports an attractive selection of games and a diverse library of VR videos on its Milk VR storefront.

Carl Zeiss VR One

The Carl Zeiss headset takes its inspiration from Samsung’s Gear VR, but takes its approach a step further. Users can attach any 4.7 to 5.2-inch Android or iOS smartphone to enter the Zeiss VR One’s 3D world. The device includes a media player that lets users browse images and watch online videos and an augmented reality (AR) app to up the VR ante. At $99, the VR One offers incredible value, and with lens maestro Carl Zeiss at the optical helm, this headset is sure to exceed expectations.

Microsoft HoloLens

With a release date of somewhere in the abyss of 2016, the Microsoft HoloLens is a half-and-half blend of VR and AR. The headset adds holographic VR images to real world elements. Users can project a video game world onto a kitchen counter, or explore futuristic worlds while playing with the dog in the backyard. The battery-powered headset runs on Windows 10, offers a 120-degree dual-axis field of view, and understands an array of voice commands and gestures.

Google Cardboard

Following talk of Google Glass, all eyes have been on the innovation giant. Google’s answer: a strappable cardboard box with a smartphone slot. No, it’s not a joke; in fact, its the most affordable ($25) and perhaps the most savvy option to hit the market. With other options such as the Archos VR and Durovis Dive offer similar (non-cardboard) designs, fans are waiting to see the true potential of Google Cardboard.

HTC Vive

A Mobile World Congress, smartphone maker HTC got into the virtual reality game with the Vive, coming later in 2015. HTC has partnered with game-making engine Steam to build apps and games for the Vive, making it on of the more intriguing VR platforms to be announced to date.

Edgar L

Developing a User-Friendly Mobile Website

mobile_webStaying connected with your target audience means being easily accessible. How is this accomplished? Hint: It’s not always through a native app. Sometimes, as BetaNews recently pointed out, a mobile website is the better option.

The author reminds us that, “there are now more than one million apps in the Apple app store but a study by Deloitte’s showed that 80 percent of apps get less than 1,000 downloads each.”

What does this mean? Well, namely, if your company has launched a mobile app, despite how popular your company may be, there is a good chance that the mobile app will not be downloaded onto your target audience’s smartphone. If it is downloaded, chances are it will not be used.

But that doesn’t mean they are not interested in engaging with your brand – they just prefer to do so via the mobile web. With that in mind, let’s take a look a few tips for creating an effective mobile website:

When you create a mobile web page, remember that you are taking your “web content and essentially resizing it for a mobile screen.”

It might seem simple, but far too many brands have yet to understand that mobile is an entirely different medium than the desktop. Thus, they cram all of the content on their website into the mobile version – big mistake. An optimized mobile website will include only what is necessary; not cluttering the screen with multiple links, drop-down menus, pop-ups and other desktop-esque elements.

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Video: Steve Wozniak at Apps World 2013

Apps World North America kicks off today in San Francisco and just like last year’s event in London Steve Wozniak will be deliver the keynote. What better way to get excited for this year’s conference than by watching Woz’s speech from last year? This Q&A style keynote covers apps, emerging tech, wearables, Apple and more.

If you’re at this year’s Apps World, stop by booth 135 to say hi to uTest or catch Matt Johnston‘s appearance on the retail keynote panel which will discuss “How are mobiles and tablets changing the consumer experience, and how will new technologies continue to shape retail?”

Small Tablet Side-By-Side Comparison

An important part of mobile app testing is making sure the app works correctly and looks good on a range of devices. With varying screen sizes, resolutions, processors and storage these days, apps can function drastically different from device to device. In the wild testing is a great way to make sure an app works well in the real world, but knowing the devices you need to target and how they differ is also helpful.

With that in mind, here’s a side by side comparisons of three smaller tablets that are hot these days: From Gigaom:

Small Tablet Comparison  Chart

Not all of these differences matter when it  comes to testing mobile apps – sorry, but the color or weight of your tablet doesn’t make a difference – but things like screen size, storage, operating system and even camera resolution in some cases should be considered when you’re developing and testing a mobile app.

Yearly Mobile App Downloads to Reach Above 100 Billion

Mobile apps economyGood news mobile app testers! Your job security is pretty much set for the next 5+ years.

According to new Gartner research released today, app downloads are going to continue increasing. Last year, nearly 64 billion mobile apps were downloaded. This year, that number is expected to reach just over 102 billion. By 2017, Gartner predicts total yearly downloads will reach almost 269 billion.

Free apps will continue to be more popular than their paid counterparts. This year, free apps account for 91% of downloads and that number is expected to creep up to 94.5% by 2017.

Wondering what devices to invest in if you want to keep up with mobile app testing needs? Gartner expects iOS and Android devices to continue reigning supreme. From Gartner:

“Free apps currently account for about 60 percent and 80 percent of the total available apps in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, respectively,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. “iOS and Android app stores combined are forecast to account for 90 percent of global downloads in 2017. These app stores are still increasingly active due to richer ecosystems and large and very active developer communities.

So go buy that new iPhone or Android and start testing!

It’s iPhone 5 Day: What Did We Learn?

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5CToday is my own nerd holiday! Apple unleashed two new devices, the iPhone 5C and 5S. Let’s talk about the 5C first. Traditionally, when releasing a new iPhone, Apple would discount previous generations. For the first time, it has decided to release the existing phone guts in an all-new package. This means that customers can get the same level of phone out of the popular iPhone 5 (including the 4-inch Retina display and A6 processor) but in a new design that feel fresh.

The real news comes in the form of the iPhone 5S. Sure, it may look similar to last year’s model, but under the hood is a brand new A7 processor, bringing 64-bit architecture to the smartphone world. Apple claims 5x the speed over the previous generation. But of course, developers will have to catch up by compiling (and testing!) their apps in 64-bit. Additionally, the A7 processor brings new motion capabilities to the iPhone. The new higher-end device also brings an upgraded camera, with a larger sensor and the ability to shoot slow-motion video. Lastly, the much-rumored fingerprint sensor brings a new level of security to the iPhone. Gone are the days of simple passcodes, Apple has introduced Touch ID, a sensor that enables you to quickly sign into your device with your own finger.

Both devices (and all new iOS devices) come with iWork and iLife apps for free. Allowing users to not just consume but also create content on their iOS devices.

Of course, we can’t forget the biggest announcement of the day: iOS 7 is 8 days away. With fluid motions, a new UI, improved multitasking and over 1,500 APIs, iOS 7 will bring new features to users, and challenges to developers, be sure to check out our 7 iOS 7 Tips video and eBook to learn how you may be affected, and how to prepare.

A Look Back at Apple’s App Store Growth

Last week the Apple App Store celebrated it’s 5th anniversary! The App store launched in 62 countries with 500 available apps and had 10 million downloads in the first weekend. Since then, the growth just keeps speeding up. Here’s a snapshot of where the App Store was in 2012 (from Apple’s milestone timeline):

Apple App Store 2008

In just over a year, the number of app downloads doubled (no small feat when we’re talking billions) and the money earned by developers went from $4 billion to double digit billions.

Apple Apple Store 2013

That’s a lot of app testing!

Mobile App Downloads Increase by 11% in Q1

Mobile app downloads increaseWhat’s the app economy look at the start of 2013? According to a Q1 report from analyst firm Canalys, downloads are up, markets are growing in new locations and Google and Apple are still on top. The report looked at the app stores for Google, Apple, Windows Phone and Blackberry in more than 50 countries. Overall, 13.4 billion apps were downloaded in the past three months, an 11% increase over the end of 2012.

If you’re an app developer or tester, where should you be focusing your mobile efforts? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Some of the strongest growth was seen in emerging markets, such as South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia
  • App downloads in North America and Western Europe increased –  6% and 10% respectively
  • Google Play saw the most downloads – accounting for 51% of downloads from the four major stores

Though Google and Apple still dominate the app market, Tim Shepherd, Canalys Senior Analyst, believes Windows Phone and Blackberry are still in the game. They need a fair bit fo work to steal away market share, though, Tim cautioned in the report.

BlackBerry 10 now has more than 100,000 apps available through its storefront, showing good growth from the 70,000 it boasted at launch, and the new devices on the platform have given BlackBerry a much greater chance to compete for consumer attention. Its app story is going from strength to strength, but there is no room for complacency. Microsoft, with the help of partners such as Nokia, is also making good progress attracting some important titles to the Windows Phone platform, but it too needs to do more to make building apps for its platform a priority for developers and also do a better job of marketing and communicating the already established strength of its app story.

So if you want to be in the midst of the mobile testing needs, focus your time in Android and iOS testing. Don’t forsake Windows Phone or Blackberry though, if those OSes continue to grow testers are going to be in high demand, especially since they’ll be less common.

If you’re a tester in emerging markets like South Africa, Brazil or Indonesia, invest in your mobile collection and brush up on your testing skills, the mobile app ecosystems in those areas are taking off, which means testers will be busy.

Are Android Users Not Using Their Handsets?

wi-fi-hotspot-open-to-publicRecent studies have showed an interesting trend in the way in which iOS and Android users consume data and use their handsets over Wi-Fi connections. Although Android dominates the marketplace, it appears that iOS devices captured over 61% of mobile web traffic. A staggering statistic when you look at the fact that “in the fourth quarter of 2012, Android made up 70 percent of the smartphone market according to IDC’s numbers. iOS held a mere 21 percent. Gartner’s estimates for the same period show the same breakdown.” (Read the full article on Wired.)

The statistics for in-flight Wi-Fi follow the same trend too, where researchers are seeing iOS making up 84% of the usage. However, there are several factors that come into play here. First of all, iOS dominates the tablet space and half of all in-flight Wi-Fi traffic comes from iPads alone. It is also important to note that over 41% of iOS users tend to be considered affluent and therefore can afford the charges that accrue when using in-flight Wi-Fi.

Another factor that comes into play in this overall trend is that Android users tend to use their devices on cellular networks more than Wi-Fi. Android users are on the go and using their devices in shorter bursts, whereas iOS users tend to settle in for longer stints on their device through a Wi-Fi connection. As an Android user myself, I see this to be the case. I am always on the go and I find using the cellular network, on which I have unlimited data, to be more reliable. This, of course, skews the data slightly in favor of iOS devices because the majority of these studies were conducted on the usage of devices on Wi-Fi.

It is also interesting to note that, according to the Wired article, “this odd usage discrepancy between iOS and Android could be disappearing though. A survey published in March questioning Galaxy S III owners and iPhone owners found very little difference in the way they use their mobile devices.”

So how do you use your device? Wi-Fi or Cellular Network? Android or iOS?