Major in Mobile Computing

Mobile Computing DegreeWebster University (based outside St. Louis, MO) is introducing a new major this year: Mobile Computing. The bachelor of science degree will teach students how to conceptualize, design, code and test mobile applications.

According to a report by the St. Louis Business Journal, the major was created in response to booming job demand.

“These students are at the center of mobile development,” said Walker School Dean Benjamin Ola. Akande. “They will be qualified to analyze, design, implement and test mobile applications as well as develop the required skills to maintain and update existing mobile applications. Their computing knowledge and technical understanding will allow them to move an organization into the mobile computing arena.”

Webster University Computer Science Professor Martha Smith helped create the program’s curriculum. She says a high demand exists for workers skilled in programming for mobile devices. “A simple search on job recruiting websites showed a dramatic increased demand in employment in mobile app development, mobile architecture, mobile design and other mobile technology-related fields,” Smith said.

The degree will require a combination of traditional computer science classes and newly created classes on mobile computing and development.

A quick round of research turned up quite a few community colleges that offer mobile development focused degrees, but this is the first instance of a full blown university offering a B.S. in mobile that I could find. Just more proof that the mobile revolution isn’t ending any time soon.

uTest - Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Will Your App Make it Into the iOS App Store?

App StoreYou spent a lot of time and sleepless nights designing, coding and testing your new app. But if you missed just one little thing it could be rejected by the App gods and denied entrance into the iOS App Store. Even the smallest correction means you need to restart the somewhat long app review and approval process. But what if your app is seasonal? Or a competitor pops onto the market in the mean time? Having to start over again could be ruinous.

Instead of just submitting your app and hoping for the best, take a look at TestPad’s iOS App Store Submission Checklist. The list is divided into eight fields: Your App; Conforms to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines; iPad Specific; Submission Package Details; App IP Configured Correctly (and Signed) For; When Updating; Miscellaneous; Copyright, Trademark, Ownership. To give you an idea of the types of things highlighted, here are the first three check points for each field:

Your App
Does not simulate a failure (e.g. crash or cracked screen)
Remains responsive after long/excessive usage
Does not hardcode any price information inside the app

Conforms to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines
App looks well designed and of high quality
Native button icons are consistent with their native actions
Activity spinners must not spin indefinitely

iPad Specific
You app should work in all four orientations, but if only portrait or landscape, must support both ways up
Your app doesn’t nest popovers, i.e. selecting something on a popover should not display another popover
Your app doesn’t show more than one popover at a time

Read more …

Bob Binder on Mobile App Testing

I just posted a great interview with mobile app testing expert Bob Binder on the uTest Blog. Here’s an excerpt where he discusses the unique problems of  – you guessed it – mobile app testing:

The mobile app space is an unprecedented phenomena in many ways. I just finished a study of mobile apps for a certain aspect of driving (cars) — I found about 250 on iOS and Android. In the two weeks it took to complete the study, four simply vanished from their portals and many others were updated. Churn is very high and release cycles are on the order of weeks to months.

Most of these apps were the work of a single person – let’s call them app artisans. The remainder were authored by a big business or as part of a startup product or service. However, some artisan apps had millions of downloads and four or five star ratings.

The course is an attempt to provide something useful to this community. Having worked on mobile app testing since 2002, when I heard that millionth mobile app had been released in December 2012, I wondered “what kind of testing has been done on these apps?” My guess was, very little.

It seemed to me that artisans could benefit the most from good testing, but would probably have little inclination and time to do it. So, the challenge was to produce a course that assumed no prior knowledge of software engineering or testing and that did not require any tool support.

Instead of superficial hints to “explore” an app or platform-specific coding tricks, I provide very specific step-by-step guidance to develop a complete and reusable mobile app test plan. This approach is all manual and can be easily repeated for apps supported on multiple platforms (Android, iOS, etc.)

Read the entire interview >>> 

10 of the Worst Mobile Phone Commercials, Ever

Despite the ever-growing popularity of mobile devices, smartphone-makers have generated their fair share of bad commercials. A recent USwitch article pulled the top 10 lamest smartphone commercials to-date. Here are some of the highlights:

iOS 6 Ads Starring Samuel L Jackson and Zooey Deschanel:

“Much criticized for over-selling Siri, the ads, which marked the first time that Apple employed Hollywood stars to tout their products, feel like nothing but a pretty cheap attempt to use celebrity as a smokescreen for the app’s shortcomings.”

Read more …

Testing Challenge: Meet the Stylus and Split Screen

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1As if there weren’t enough different mobile devices (each with their own little intricacy) to test on, Samsung is adding another, totally different device to the mix. The makers of that phone-tablet in-between the Galaxy Note, Samsung is not introducing a stylus and split screen capacity to its newest tablet – a full sized tablet called the Galaxy Note 10.1.

The stylus isn’t too out of left-field, since the original Note has a stylus and plenty of people buy a stylus to use with their tablets anyway. It’s a feature that probably gets at least some testing out in-the-wild.

The bigger of the two features from a testing standpoint is the split screen. This feature lets you view two apps side-by-side. It’s a great concept, but what’s it going to do to the apps? Does the tablet have enough power to simultaneously run two apps and let you interact with both of them? How will the apps look when they shrink to fit into split screen mode? Will developers have to tweak their apps to fit this new feature?

For now it looks like only select apps will be able to function in split screen (according to a video review by the Wall Street Journal). In this light, it’s likely Samsung anticipated these issues and already took care of testing for the apps that will be split screen enabled. It also seems like split screen is playing second fiddle to the stylus, which is getting most of the attention, so it may be a less important feature that Samsung isn’t going to do too much with. It will be interesting to see how well split screen actually performs and if Samsung ever opens it to third party app developers.

You can read all about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 in this review by All Things D >>>

McDonald’s Testing a Mobile Payment App

In France, they call a Quarter Pounder a Royale with cheese. Also in France, you can pay for it with a mobile app. CNN.com posted a nice summary of this in-the-wild testing project by the world’s largest fast food chain. Here were some of the more meaty details:

McDonald’s customers in Paris can now pay for a Royale with Cheese using their smartphones or tablets — a concept that could spread to the company’s 33,500 locations worldwide if the fast-food leader likes the results.

Customers at 30 locations in France are now able to order their meals using the McDonald’s mobile app, pay for it via PayPal, then join a separate line to pick up their food, according to a Reuters report.

The trial is part of a rapidly growing consumer-service trend of skipping cash, and even credit cards, in favor of a quick tap from a mobile phone.

Major retailers from Target to Best Buy to 7-Eleven have teamed up to create the Merchant Customer Exchange. The group is developing a mobile app that would allow customers to pay for goods at participating stores’ registers with their smartphones. The app will also give users exclusive coupons and deals.

Square, a mobile app and phone attachment created by one of the founders of Twitter, is gaining traction as a tool for small businesses to accept credit-card payments and this month signed a deal with Starbucks for the coffee behemoth to begin accepting payments through the app.

The trend is clear: We’re transitioning to a cashless society, thanks to mobile technology. The real question, at least for me, is whether individual companies will have success in rolling out their own payment apps (think Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.) or whether a company like Google (i.e. Google Wallet) will dominate the space for all retailers. Whatever the outcome may be, testing is sure to play a major role. Stay tuned.

You are Your Own Biggest Security Threat

Worried about having your own personal data hacked? A new study shows that officer workers are well -just terrible at securing their mobile devices. From a lack of passwords, to poor IT departments, these stats are pretty worrisome.

Ricardo Bilton of VentureBeat took a closer look at the study:

Let’s start with the big one: 84 percent of respondents said that they use their phones for both work and personal matters. That might not usually be a problem, but this use is joined by a worrying lack of basic security protocol: 47 percent of respondents say they didn’t have passwords on their phones, which immediately becomes a problem if the devices land in the wrong hands. (Just as bad: 36 percent said they reuse the same password, breaking Password Rule No. 1.)

But we can only blame the workers too much. Fifty-one percent of respondents said that their companies lacked the capability to remotely erase the data on their phones (28 percent said they weren’t sure). That’s a basic feature embedded in a large number of consumer-focused services and apps (including iCloud and Prey), so IT departments have no excuse for not doing so.

Perhaps worse, 49 percent of the survey-takers said that their IT departments had never talked to them about the state of mobile security, which likely explains why the survey’s respondents were so bad at securing their devices.”

Do you find yourself not using passwords - or using your device for both work and personal matters? Let us know your thoughts on this study in the comments section.

 

The Smartphone That Started It All (iPhone)

Researcher Exposes Major Apple Security Risk

There are two kinds of hackers; those who use their skills for good – or of course – those who use them for evil. The good kind of hackers are either security testers or security researchers. To be a good security tester you have to think like a villain, and go through an app like a hacker would looking for vulnerabilities.

And that was exactly what French iOS security researcher, Pod2G, did on Friday when he identified a SMS spoofing flaw in every version of Apple’s OS. As explained by Devindra Hardawar in VentureBeat:

Using the flaw, hackers could spoof their identities via text and send messages asking for private information (by pretending to be from a users’ bank, for example), or direct users to phishing sites.

As Pod2g explains it, an SMS text message is converted to Protocol Description Unit (PDU) when sent from a phone, a dense protocol that also handles things like voice mail alerts and emergency medical systems. If a hacker was able to send a message in raw PDU format, they could take advantage of the User Data Header section to alter the reply number for a text.

If properly implemented, you should see both the original texting address and the altered reply number. But on the iPhone, you only see the altered reply number. For whatever reason, the original sender gets hidden. The flaw only relates to texts on the iPhone, and not messages sent through Apple’s iMessage network (those don’t hit the SMS protocol at all).”

Pretty scary stuff. These types of vulnerabilities can exist on any device or mobile application. The only way to discover them is to utilize a community of skilled security experts for testing.

To learn more about security testing click here.

Google Makes Updating Apps Easier

Delta Update making app updating fasterGoogle has changed the way app updates are pushed to users’ devices. The improvement will make updates quicker, take up less bandwidth and drain less battery. Functioning on Android devices running Gingerbread or higher, “delta updates” work by only updating the parts of an app that have actually been updated by the developers (rather than reinstalling the entire app). According to TechCrunch, the feature was announced at Google I/O in late June, but only launched this week. In fact, the launch was so quiet that it took some people noticing how much less space updates were taken to realize that the feature had even been pushed live. From TechCrunch:

According to Android Police, an update of the popular ezPDF Reader, which would usually weigh in at about 6.3MB, now clocks in at under 3MB. An update to Instagram, which went out this morning, is now a 3MB download instead of 13MB for the full app.

These numbers should be even more dramatic for larger apps and especially games. After all, instead of having to download all the graphics assets for a game again, you now only have to download the parts needed to enable that new level or feature.

Let us know if you notice any difference the next time you update an app.