Tips for iPhone App Beta Testing

With so much competition (approximately 225,000) in the field of iPhone Apps, it is critical to not only produce an App that is original, but also to ensure it is of high quality. The users experience must be positive from the moment they start the App. Anything less than ‘great’, then that user will leave average or negative feedback on iTunes. If that happens, then the App rating will drop, which obviously means the amount of people wanting to download it will drop too. To prevent unwanted issues with the App, it is vital to ensure the App is Beta tested correctly. This way any issues with the App can be rectified before its release.

There are some useful iPhone App Beta testing services available, from simple tools and simulators to complete professional beta testing solutions. It’s worth noting that of these solutions may not be as good as they seem. Let’s take a look at the most popular and cheapest way to Beta Test an iPhone App:

App testing on a real device Vs a simulator

There appears to be a few iPhone App simulators out there on the net claiming to offer solutions for beta testing an iPhone App. Well, although technically(and I use this term loosely) correct, the so called ‘simulators’ are nothing more than web browser screens made to be the same size an iPhone screen. This really cannot offer a real beta test of an application, can they? So what are the differences between testing on a simulator and a real device?

The CPU type

The screen (a real iphone has a touch-screen of course)

Installing the App

Memory usage

Zooming functionality

Network connectivity related issues

Remember, customers that buy the App from the App store won’t be running it on a simulator!

Public Beta Testing

A very credible and commonly used method of testing an application before its release is performing a ‘Public Beta Test’. This is essentially releasing an application to the public before it is officially released. With traditional software testing, this can be fairly straight-forward to implement, as the developing company can simply allow as many public beta testers as they wish to test their software application. Now, with an iPhone App things are different. Firstly, you are limited to only one hundred iPhones that can be used in the beta test. In addition, these iPhones must be known to the developer, as each iPhones UDID will be required to create a provisioning file to go with the App. So public beta testing can be achieved with an iPhone App, but only in a limited and restricted way.

Feedback from Beta Testers

When assigning an App to be tested to your Beta Testers, make sure that the goals of the testing are made clear. You may have some specific areas of the Apps functionality that you want feedback on, for example; you may be wanting to test the performance of your entire system when multiple users are simultaneously using the App. Aim to ensure that all of your Beta Testers have clear instructions of the testing you want carried out, and supply them with any specific information they need to use the App. Each tester must know how to test all of the App’s functionality. A common mistake is to not inform the testers of functionality that has been deliberately disabled prior to the Apps release. The testers may spend time investigating what they think is an issue, when in fact you already know about it. Also ensure that the testers know that if they find a critical issue, they need to inform you immediately. There is nothing worse than organizing a week long beta test, only to find a critical issue reported on the last day. Obviously, it is important in any development lifecycle to resolve critical issues as soon as possible and may require halting/postponing the current beta testing until the issue is resolved.

Aesthetics

As this type of testing is trying to replicate a typical user environment, try to make good use of the type of information that beta testing can provide. A good example of this is ‘aesthetics’, which simply means the look and feel of the App under test. This is commonly the last chance you get to make any changes before your customers will see the App. Often overlooked items are the coloring of the text and how it it used within the App’s design. Make sure that the text can not only be seen in an in-doors environment but also outside in daylight. The App could potentially be unusable if it cannot be seen outside. The most important area of aesthetics is how it feels to use the App. Does performing some simple actions take you to too many screens or require reading over-long amounts of text? areas such as these cab be tested and provide you with really useful feedback prior to your Apps release.

Can I Beta Test the iPhone App myself?

An iPhone App developer has full control over the design or their code, but do they have control over their quality? This is not a straight-forward question, or indeed answer. If a developer chooses to, they can indeed have full control over the App’s quality. The developer either needs professional knowledge and experience of software testing, or they ask a professional beta tester to test it for them. To release a successful App, it must be well designed and well coded. The best way to ensure releasing a quality App is to use a professional iPhone App Beta Tester. When choosing an App Beta Testing company, there are a few things you can look out for, including:

1. Ensure the App will be tested on real devices (not simulators).

2. Check a range of devices is available, e.g. iPhone 3, iPhone 4, iPad and iPod Touch.

3. Make sure the beta testing will be carried out using the latest firmware available for that device.

4. Always ask an iPhone App Beta Testing company about Usability testing too.

5. Always ask for a test report.

6. As well as the standard Exploratory testing techniques, a good testing company should be able to offer you more advanced testing techniques such as Boundary Value Analysis and Equivalence Partitioning.

7. As a developer you will probably want to get your App released ASAP, and so it is likely you will need a quick turnaround.