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Nikolaj Nyholm

Nikolaj Nyholm

Simplifying Mobile Testing

Two major challenges abound in the mobile app world; flat-rate data and handset incompatibility.

While roll-out flat-rate plans is slowly gathering speed across most of the world (go figure why the US will overtake the #2 position soon if European carriers don't get their act together), device incompatability is still the single-biggest problem of the mobile app hacker. Symbian (including incompatible S60 versions 1, 2, and 3), Brew, J2ME, Flash Lite; lots of fancy attempts to get at a more universal mobile app development stack.
Even the most wide-spread of these, J2ME, has widely different implementations across manufacturers with regards to core functionality and access to phone APIs like data, SMS, bluetooth or camera. The result is that the lowest common denominators across carriers and handsets, sound (calls and ringtones) and text (SMS), abound.

While newly relaunched DeviceAnywhere hasn't solved the compatibility issues, they have taken a formidable stab at providing an easy and cost-effective way to test across a wide number of devices. In short, they provide an online interface for testing different live phones across multiple networks (demo here).
One company I know currently spends thousands of dollars each month on buying new phones simply for testing -- DeviceAnywhere should cut that to a fraction, and hopefully allow for a wider rollout of real mobile services that go beyond the current cacophony. Were it not for the Windows-only environment this would be my clear vote for late-'06 mobile revelation.

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Comments: 8

Josh Bancroft   [12.16.06 05:49 PM]

And then there's Windows Mobile and Palm OS smartphone/PDA phone devices, which most of the time, aren't compatible with the J2ME apps anyway (there are exceptions).

Most people I know that want to run apps on their phones are using one of those, or a Blackberry, not the little feature phone that they got for free from their carrier.

Mobile compatibility is definitely a jungle...

Sriram Krishnan [MSFT]   [12.16.06 10:14 PM]

We at Microsoft are doing our part in helping out.

#begin plug

The feature I own is about integrating device testing with Visual Studio- so as a developer, you could get your app tested across tons of different devices (actual or emulated) from inside your IDE.

For folks who want to get started, check out #end plug

Nikolaj   [12.16.06 11:50 PM]

Josh, while your observation may be true, I personally believe this is a question of demographics. If you look towards Europe and especially Asia, people happily spend $600 on phones. Teenagers aren't using Windows mobile but are the most spendthrift uers, phone apps included.

Nikolaj   [12.17.06 12:02 AM]

Sriram, thanks for pointing this out. This is obviously the most important first step. Microsoft is, despite limited success so-far, doing interesting work in creating mobile stack for the developer. Sorry for leaving you out in the original post!

Steven Veltema   [12.18.06 01:31 AM]

My company in Japan often makes use of testing rooms from time to time. There are rooms in Akihabara and otherplaces with all kinds of phones and you pay by the hour (per room/phone) to rent out the room to test your appli. They also can provide a tester if you have the need. I have a hard time believing that there aren't similar outfits in the Valley.

theodoremomoto   [12.18.06 07:12 AM]

That's great news to share.Thanks for Information

theodoremomoto   [12.18.06 07:13 AM]

That's great news to share.Thanks for Information

Michael Leahy   [12.19.06 12:02 AM]

Greets... It is great to see our tech mentioned on the Radar. I'm a software architect for Mobile Complete and Radar reader. I would like to mention the client for DeviceAnywhere and our enterprise offerings have been ported to Linux & OSX and will be available soon on these platforms in addition to Windows.

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