Mobile Fragmentation and the Need for Automation: An Interview with Josh Galde

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, Keynote's Josh Galde talks anything and everything mobile. The industry veteran discusses how much of the testing process should be automated, the difference between testing phones and tablets, and what he sees as "the next big thing" in the industry.

Josiah Renaudin: Today I'm joined by senior product marketing manager, Josh Galde. Josh, thank you very much for speaking with us.

Josh Galde: Thanks for having us. Thanks.

Josiah Renaudin: All right. Could you tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry before we dig into the mobile topics?

Josh Galde: Absolutely. My experience has been working with ... I've actually worked with DeviceAnywhere for the last six years. Part of the acquisition back in 2011 by Keynote. I've had extensive experience working with our customers DeviceAnywhere who primarily have to plan their app releases and need to do lots of testing for their variety of apps and websites that they're releasing to support their customer experiences. We work with hundreds of companies around the world who need to provide ... Who have an interest in requirement to do testing. They come to us to help them with that.

Josiah Renaudin: One of your main areas of expertise is mobile devices, and almost at this point, it feels like there's a new company entering the market every single year. We have Amazon recently with the Fire Phone. Are there just too many styles of mobile devices on the market to reasonably and thoroughly test an application on? Is it worth the time and effort to test more fringe devices that aren't as established as, let's say, iPhone, or HTC One?

Josh Galde: Yeah. That's a great question, Josiah. The market is getting more and more fragmented. While we've seen the demise of Blackberry and others, Nokia for one. There's still a need to test on as many devices as possible because whether you're in the US market or around the world, there will never be a one device everyone is using. Because of that, there will still be tons of devices on the market. Obviously, different OSs, different software.

You have different device configurations. It just is endless. Many of our customers have come to us for advice on which devices to target as a result. Nobody can ever test on every device on the market, and you wouldn't want that or need to. There's a couple things, three items, that I really feel like I would say companies need to take into consideration when looking at which devices to test on, how many devices to test on, etc.

First I would say you need to understand what are the operating systems that your customers are using. Sometimes it may be more than the latest version of the OS i.e., Android which has, I don't know, ten different versions, and you've seen the charts and the graphs that support the fact that customers as they upgrade the OS are not always all upgrading their OS to the latest version, unlike on iOS that's 98 percent upgrade rate. With Android it's still very fragmented. You have to be mindful of do I need to build multiple app versions for different OS versions because on Android, at least, consumers are not upgrading for one reason or another. Therefore, do I need to consider supporting back versions?

It also takes a value of looking at market data, looking at our own internal data to decide, "Okay, which OS version are we going to support? Which are the ones that are the most popular?" Really help narrow your focus a little bit too, so you're not trying to reach everyone, and be able to reach everyone in the industry. I don't think it is achievable, nor is it realistic.

You may have a small set of subscribers using a super old version of Android. Are you necessarily going to see any value in expending revenue, and expending costs to make sure that person is supported? Once you know that, you can determine which devices make sense to test on.

Is it the newest devices, or maybe it's a variety of those devices? Obviously, on Android that makes sense, because you have multiple devices built by multiple operators who support Android. On iOS it's probably a little more focused because obviously, it's the one operator, but you still have a need to support different form factors. As you know, there's the touch, obviously the 5, the 5s, and the 4s, which are all fully supported by Apple. Obviously, with new devices coming out by Apple hopefully this year, we expect to see that increase and expand.

Third you need to know if you're building an app for a phone, or a tablet, or just one of the other. I think we see a lot of that need where people think they can just build one app that's going to work on both devices. They realize there's more functionality on a tablet, so therefore want to end up building a second app. Something to consider when supporting multiple devices. I'll lastly end with this, and just say that I know in a recent survey of ours over 66 percent of respondents tested on less than ten device models before releasing their app.

All that really tells you is that, while that is the panacea to say, "Look. We're going to test on hundreds, and hundreds of devices," you can by looking at the market, by looking at your own internal needs and what you need to support based on features and functionality, can and should be able to, even with our help. We've helped a lot of customers say, "Look. These are the devices you should test on. You're going to get this market reach," and we're able to guide our customers. It is totally doable with less than ten devices. At least for automation. For functional testing, that is definitely makes sense to do it on more then ... Even upwards of a hundred if you need to.

Josiah Renaudin: When we're talking about mobile, we're not just talking about phones so what new challenges arisen with the advent of tablets? Is testing for an iPhone similar to testing for an iPad, or is there a more unique progression with that?

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About the author

Josiah Renaudin's picture Josiah Renaudin

A long-time freelancer in the tech industry, Josiah Renaudin is now a web content producer and writer for TechWell, StickyMinds, and Better Software magazine. Previously, he wrote for popular video game journalism websites like GameSpot, IGN, and Paste Magazine, where he published reviews, interviews, and long-form features. Josiah has been immersed in games since he was young, but more than anything, he enjoys covering the tech industry at large.

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