Head to Head App Testing

Head to HeadWhen you’re testing a mobile app, you’re looking for things like functionality, usability and security. You probably form your own opinion of the app and maybe even compare it in your head to other, similar apps – but that’s not an official, reportable part of testing. Well, today we’re going to satisfy that human need to compare things.

Let’s start with PCWorld‘s comparison of mobile search apps from Google, Bing and Yahoo on Android. Here’s what they came up with:

Interface, Tools, and Navigation

Bing’s Beauty
Bing’s appeal is obvious from the moment you launch the app: Its full-screen interface is gorgeous. The app highlights the same image of the day on the desktop version of Bing. A list of search options runs down the screen, allowing you to choose from among images, videos, maps, local, deals, movies, news, shopping, and directions. …

Every Bing screen includes a search query bar at the top. You can enter a query by typing it, or you can press the microphone icon and then enter the query by voice. Bing’s voice recognition software worked flawlessly (as it did on the Google and Yahoo apps as well). Once you begin typing, Bing automatically pushes you to its search page, which displays suggestions as you type. This text-heavy page lacks the visual grace notes that Bing sports on its other pages. …

Overall Bing was most notable for delivering a slick, intuitive mobile search interface.

Favorite interface: Bing. With its mix of beauty and intuitive navigation, Bing looks great and is easy to use, too.

Google’s Businesslike Approach
Google’s mobile search app is as spartan as they come. Its interface consists primarily of a search query bar and a blue-and-white “G” logo. As you begin using the app, your search history will appear in the text fields below the query bar, which is useful if you tend to run the same searches repeatedly–especially if you need to do so while on the go. …

Fortunately, what Google’s mobile search app lacks in looks, it makes up for in functionality. This excellent search tool integrates local results (what Google calls “Places”), images, news, videos, shopping, finance, apps, maps, books, and more. Rival Bing offers plenty of categories, too, but Google goes several steps farther, letting you search a host of Google services, including Docs, contacts, Blogger, iGoogle, Earth, Books, and Googles. …

Most varied search sources: Google’s ability to draw results from the Web, from your phone, and from various Google services makes this a complete search tool that can deliver comprehensive results.

Plain Old Yahoo
Yahoo’s mobile app is something of a mix between Bing’s and Google’s. Microsoft Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, so it’s no surprise that many of the results you see on the two apps are the same. But Yahoo offers nothing comparable to Bing’s elegant design, instead featuring Google-style businesslike interface, with a search query bar taking top billing. Rather than showing your search history, though, Yahoo’s home page displays trending topics; you’ll see your search history when you begin to type a query.

Like Google’s, Yahoo’s results include a general mix of information, depending on the content of your query. You’ll see Web links, local businesses (when appropriate), and images. The site also includes news results and displays embedded maps, as rivals Bing and Google do, but it pushes you to an external app when you need directions. …

Most room to improve: Yahoo’s mobile search app pales in comparison to Bing’s and Google’s. It lacks the visual appear and fluid interface that Bing sports, and it can’t compete with Google’s varied sources of information.

To see how each search app did in the categories of “Local Restaurant Search,” “Local Movie Search, “Shop, Shops, and Shopping” and who was declared the overall winner read the full PCWorld article >>>

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at TechCrunch‘s comparison of the MOG, Rdio and Spotify apps for iPad (or, in Spotify’s case, for iPhone). Warning: The article comes across less as a true side-by-side comparison and more of a “MOG is the best app, let me show you why.” That being said, it goes into enough detail to help you form your own opinion.

MOG has the best experience for simply playing music, it streams in higher fidelity on Wi-Fi, and provides the most accurate recommendations. Here’s a full breakdown of how the three compare on music playback, discovery, price, and sound quality.

Music Playback
The biggest advantage of tablet streaming apps over their smartphone sisters is the space to always show both play controls and what you’re currently hearing. MOG nails music playback on iPad. A persistent play bar up top can always be expanded to show album art near-fullscreen (4/5s), bigger than Rdio (3/5s). …

The play bar also hosts the MOG Radio button. Instead of going quiet when your current selection ends, if enabled MOG Radio automatically starts playing an infinite loop of songs related to what you were listening to. A slider lets you select to hear more by the exact artist you were hearing or give MOG the freedom to play similar artists too.

That means you can cue up a single song, and then let MOG Radio take over, similar to a certain music genome project you’ve probably heard of. …

MOG Radio alone will make me choose it over Rdio whose Play Station doesn’t kick in automatically and merely shuffles your current selection, or Spotify which only offers standard loop and shuffle.

Discovery
This has traditionally been Rdio’s domain but MOG has done a good job of usurping the throne. Both offer pages of new releases and charts, and Rdio’s feel a little cleaner to browse. MOG’s also includes editor’s picks, though, to clue you into cool stuff that might not be popular or brand new.

Rdio shines with its Heavy Rotation page, which offers quick access to what you, friends, and the whole user base are playing most. I often get addicted to songs and not having to search for them each time I return is very helpful. MOG’s recommendations trump Rdio’s, though. Rdio only uses your play history, so when I listened to a throwback Blink 182 album first, all my recommendations were of emo rock I hardly listen to anymore. MOG pre-populates its algorithm with your Facebook Likes, and then improves it with your listening habits which makes its recommendations much more accurate for new users.

When you find someone good on MOG, not only can you add it to your queue like on Rdio, you can choose to play it next, at the end of your queue, or ditch your queue and play it now. Spotify only lets you add songs to playlists, which both its competitors do too.

This has traditionally been Rdio’s domain but MOG has done a good job of usurping the throne. Both offer pages of new releases and charts, and Rdio’s feel a little cleaner to browse. MOG’s also includes editor’s picks, though, to clue you into cool stuff that might not be popular or brand new.

Pricing, Offline Play, and Sound Quality
Rdio scores points by letting you use your free minutes on mobile, while the others make you to pay to even try their mobile apps.

All three companies let you beam music to your home stereo over AirPlay, and  sync/download music to your device for offline playlists. Spotify only lets you download playlists, Rdio does that plus albums, while MOG lets you sync playlists, albums, and songs. In both streaming and downloading, MOG offers the highest bitrate if enabled.

Read the full TechCrunch article >>>

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