Mobile is accounting for more and more retail revenue. During last year’s holiday shopping season, smartphones and tablets accounted for 16.3% of all online sales, according to IBM. What kind of effect is mobile having on this year’s retail landscape? Check out this infographic produced by xAd and Telmetrics:
Getting to pick an expert’s brain is always exciting and insightful. We do it on a monthly basis on the uTest Software Testing Blog as part of our Testing the Limits series (this month we spoke to four experts – the board members of the newly founded International Society for Software Testing). Recently the folks over at GigaOm got to sit down with design guru Don Norman.
The man who wrote “the bible for design thinking and technology” and went so far as to say that bad design is downright dangerous has some interesting things to say about today’s technology and design. Here’s a snippet of the GigaOm interview:
Android. I think that the Android phones and Apple iOS phones are remarkably similar. There’s very little difference. The main difference is what religion you subscribe to: Do you subscribe to the religion of Apple or the religion of Google? Actually, I think Android in many ways is a copy of the Apple iPhone.
Apple has always exerted tremendous control over what you can do with their products. They control the hardware and the software and they are restrictive about the kind of apps that can run on it. Apple developers have a horrible time because they submit their app to Apple, Apple takes a long time and says ‘no,’ and it’s hard to figure out why they said ‘no.’
I don’t use the Apple phones because I don’t like the restrictive dictatorial policies Apple has instituted, so I went to Android because it’s more open. As a result of the openness, though, there’s a bit more chaos. Different apps work in different ways and are maybe not as reliable, but I still prefer the openness of Android. The truth is I use an iPad and I use an (iPod) Touch and I use an Android phone. But they’re all the same.
And just to get your a bit more worked up, here’s Don’s response when asked about Windows Phone:
I think Microsoft has sort of been left out of this battle. People forget they exist. I think that the Windows 8 for phones is really a better system than either the iPhone or the Android. I’m very impressed with what Microsoft has done. It’ll take them a few tries to get it right. Now it’s on version 2 — and version 3 is always Microsoft’s hotspot. And I think the new Surface tablets and new phones — they did not copy Android, they did not copy iPhone. They started over again. They understand discoverability. They understand some of these design principles and they use them.
There’s a lot more to this great interview discussing design and mobile (and a few other things). Be sure to read the whole thing at GigaOM >>>
Because not all medical apps have a life or death baring on users lives, the FDA has decided to take a “enforcement discretion” approach – meaning that while this official guidance exists and should be followed for the most part, it won’t be fully enforced for all medical related apps. (Please note that I am in no way a lawyer and if you’re concerned about the effect this will have on your app you should talk to a professional.)
Still, with some medical mobile apps being so intricately tied to user health – and the healthcare they receive – it’s important for the FDA to pay attention. From the FDA press release:
Mobile apps have the potential to transform health care by allowing doctors to diagnose patients with potentially life-threatening conditions outside of traditional health care settings, help consumers manage their own health and wellness, and also gain access to useful information whenever and wherever they need it. …
“Some mobile apps carry minimal risks to consumer or patients, but others can carry significant risks if they do not operate correctly. The FDA’s tailored policy protects patients while encouraging innovation,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
The FDA is careful to point out that they don’t regulate the use or distribution of smartphones or mobile apps. But there are some cases they will be paying attention to, specifically ones that move apps out of the world of causal use and into the realm of legitimate medical device. From the press release:
- are intended to be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device – for example, an application that allows a health care professional to make a specific diagnosis by viewing a medical image from a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) on a smartphone or a mobile tablet; or
- transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device – for example, an application that turns a smartphone into an electrocardiography (ECG) machine to detect abnormal heart rhythms or determine if a patient is experiencing a heart attack.
Mobile medical apps that undergo FDA review will be assessed using the same regulatory standards and risk-based approach that the agency applies to other medical devices.
If you develop or test medical mobile apps, give the press release and/or FDA guidance a read. Part of being a good tester is being thorough, so it’s crucial that you stay up to date with big developments like this.
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!
Alan Page of Microsoft tries to answer that burning question.
In the US, 40% of time spent online banking takes place via a mobile device and 50% of survey respondents bank exclusively via mobile, according to the Banking & Finance portion of the 2013 xAd and Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase Study (with research conducted by The Nielsen Company).
Banks and Financial institutions might want to consider investing in both a native app and a mobile website. Consumers use both mobile approaches to fulfill different needs (transactions via app and research via mobile web). In fact, the research suggests that an optimized mobile website might even be more important. Here’s a snippet from xAd:
For driving conversions, Banking & Finance mobile researchers indicated that an optimized mobile site is the most important feature for both devices (40 percent for smartphone, 37 percent for tablet).
Having a well optimized mobile site is the top ranked feature in the eyes of users when it comes to mobile banking, followed by the existence of a nearby location and easy-to-find contact information. These features correspond nicely to the most popular mobile banking activities: Completing a transaction, looking up information and finding a nearby location (so you better make sure your geo-location feature works correctly in-the-wild).
While half of mobile Banking & Finance activity is transactional, including paying bills, transferring funds, paying via PayPal, etc., the remaining 50 percent of mobile users are researching general banking information and/or looking for business location details. The majority of mobile search and browsing activity is spent researching checking and savings accounts followed by credit cards. And while 50 percent of mobile banking users are looking to make a transaction right away, 25 percent are still undecided and researching their decision.
Read more at xAd >>>
So you know you need a mobile app and an optimized site, prominent contact info and features that let users complete transactions and searches easily. But knowing what features to include is only half the battle. Without knowing who your target audience is, presenting those features in a pleasing way is a total shot in the dark. For banking, make sure the site or app you’[re developing or testing isn’t stuffy, clunky or dated-looking, because nearly half of mobile banking users are under 35. The trend toward mobile savvy users who have a penchant for completing transactions on smartphones is only going to increase as the kids who have been using mobile devices since childhood become adults.
Get more mobile banking stats >>>
Knowing your end users and how they use apps is an integral part of successful development and testing. Keeping on eye on user trends – from age to the features they like to the way they interact with apps and mobile web – will help you launch a successful app.
We’re just days a way from the public release of iOS 7 and that means millions of users will be upgrading to a new experience and expecting their apps to work just as well as they did on iOS 6. Here are a few things that might trip you up.
All Apps Must Support iOS 7
Apple has begun accepting iOS 7 submissions, but did you know that they are requiring all new app and app update submissions to be iOS 7 compatible, optimized for Retina and support the 4-inch screen for the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c? This means that whether you were planning on releasing an iOS 7 update or not, your app and updates must run on iOS 7 before Apple will allow them in the app store (even if you were just fixing bugs in your iOS 6 version).
While compiling your app against iOS 7 will be simple and straight-forward for some developers, those who have custom UI elements (not found in UIKit) may find their interfaces distorted or out of place in the new OS. And, while you don’t have to take advantage of new frameworks such as Dynamic Type, Motion and updated multitasking, you do have to be cautious about depreciated APIs your app may have been relying upon. Find out more iOS 7 by reading our eBook, 7 Tips for iOS 7.
New Hardware Means a Need For More Coverage
Even if you have been testing your app against Apple’s beta and Gold Master versions of iOS 7, September 20th, brings us another milestone: two brand new devices. While many describe the iPhone 5c as a last year’s iPhone in new clothing, it is in fact a brand new device and while some of the components have remained the same, it is a new configuration of them (including a larger battery).
The iPhone 5s is a completely brand new device with an untested (in public, that is) processor. In addition to ensuring your app works well under a new operating environment for existing device users, you will want to make sure that the app works as well on new devices with new hardware.
A 64-bit Surprise
Speaking of the iPhone 5s, Apple has brought 64-bit architecture to the mobile world. This is really exciting for the world of mobile as apps optimized for the 64-bit architecture can run both faster and more efficiently. Obviously your mileage may vary – complicated apps with many calculations will see greater improvements than simple apps, once optimized. Apple has made it easy to compile your apps as both 32-bit and 64-bit versions in one binary. However, it is recommended that developers first support iOS 7 and then begin work to support 64-bit conversion (rather than trying to do both at once). There will be a few watch-outs while converting (particularly around the use of NSInteger and CGFLoat).
The addition of 64-bit architecture also means you should examine your testing strategy. Beyond the need to test on 64-bit device (in this case the iPhone 5s) you’ll also want to understand how the 32-bit version of your app functions after making the necessary adjustments for the upgrade.
Read more on the uTest Software Testing Blog >>>
Colt McAnlis, a developer advocate at Google, spoke at HTML5DevConf in April. Here’s the recording of his talk on mobile web performance. Enjoy!
Today 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.