Some of the worst offenders right now are people who make airline applications. Airline applications tend to depend on an Internet connection. I need an airline application to work for me when I'm in an airport, and airports have the worst Internet connectivity. What are the environmental effects that people could encounter when they're using the app? I think I've managed to influence one airline app development group to go and test their software in an airport.
Joey McAllister: It's almost more like traditional product testing, like testing a toy or some physical product—not necessarily just the software but the whole package.
Jonathan Kohl: Yeah, I hadn't thought of it that way, but that's a great mashup. We've got the software side of it, and we've got the network connectivity and all of that we're used to with Internet-based apps, but there is the physical—the lights that blink and the sounds that come out and the movement that occurs. That all comes into play.
Joey McAllister: Software that traditionally was developed exclusively for desktop computers is now also being developed for tablets and phones, and sometimes it's the same software—at least the base of it. Do you think that all software going forward should be tested as mobile, using some of these approaches that you're talking about?
Jonathan Kohl: To some extent, yes. We're seeing devices collapse into each other. A lot of people are quite skeptical still of mobile testing, because it's been such a slow burn. It is moving in that direction, but there are still lines that are drawn.
I was just talking with some developers the other day who work with client-server and standalone executable apps, not web-based. They use web apps, but they don't really understand and they don't really care, because that's another world—that's not what they get paid to write. I have really good friends who are completely enmeshed. We live in the mobile world. It's hard for us to think of things outside of it. There’s still a divide.
There's also a divide between the app development for the mass-market consumer and the enterprise. The enterprise is really lagging, and some places don't want mobile devices in the workplace. They don't want to support them. They don't want mobile applications. So, it's a bit of a slow transition into the enterprise space. A lot of people who are professional testers may stay in the world they're in and not be exposed directly to mobile technology.
However, you're absolutely right. These things are collapsing into each other. Windows Metro, the new Windows 8 operating system user interface, is very Windows Phone-like. If you use Ubuntu, their Unity interface is very mobile. OS X Lion with the Mac has gestures that come from the mobile space. A lot of the discovery and the really cool growth in technology is happening in the mobile space, and that's getting pushed down into these other areas.
Joey McAllister: How do some of the other elements of these devices, like a calendar or texting or even the device settings, factor in when you're testing mobile applications?
Jonathan Kohl: We have these small devices that tend to have a singular focus, and a lot of these things you're talking about are built in. So, when you're talking about a mobile phone, you've got a phone that is using radio technology to transmit and receive, then you've got a little computer, then you've got these apps that they bundle with it that are native. These apps, anything related to the phone (if it's a communication device), and anything related to the OS take precedence.