Testing in-the-wild is a great way to make sure applications work under real-world conditions, but it can be challenging when you’re testing a mobile app while out and about. The testing itself is easy enough, but to get all the vital information (like screenshots and crash logs) you have to connect the device to a computer and pull all that info off the phone before sending it off to whatever bug reporting platform you’re using.
Luckily, there’s a tool out there that will make it easier for both the developers pushing the apps to testers and the testers pushing bugs to the developers. uTest (the wicked awesome people behind this blog) announced yesterday that they have acquired Apphance, an amazing mobile testing tool. uTest’s Product Marketing Manager Stanton Champion highlighted some of Apphance’s features in a recent blog post, here are the ones that’ll come in particularly handy for in-the-wild testing.
Over-The-Air App Distribution
This one is huge for anyone developing a mobile app where build updates happen frequently. With over-the-air app distribution, developers can upload a new build and their testers will be able to download the update either within the app or via email. That means they’re not wasting time testing an out-of-date version of the app or trying to get updates installed on their device.
Nobody likes it when their app crashes, but figuring out why it crashed can be incredibly challenging. Even if the developer is holding the device in their hands, the exact reason the app crashed may not be apparent without extracting the buried system and crash logs.
Apphance solves this by detecting crashes and automatically sending crash reports to the Apphance servers in the cloud. Developers can not only see which versions of their app have crashes, but they can even see the details about why the app crashed.
Along with the crash report, Apphance will also send some additional data about the state of the device and the app. The exact data it sends depends on whether Apphance is running in pre-production mode or production mode. In pre-production mode, Apphance will send as much detail as possible, while in production mode Apphance sends a more limited amount of detail out of respect for the users’ privacy.
The most useful thing for testers is that they don’t have to do a thing to report a crash. Apphance will automatically pull all the necessary information and ship it off to the developer.
In-App Bug Reporting
When testers discover bugs in mobile apps, it can be difficult to capture the needed screenshots, write notes about the steps to reproduce the bug and then enter all that into a bug tracking system that’s usually opened on a completely separate device. Apphance changes all that, allowing testers to report bugs from within the app itself. All the tester needs to do is shake the device, and Apphance will begin the bug reporting process. Apphance will take screenshots and get the details from the tester, all without ever leaving the app. Testers can even write and draw directly on the device’s screen to make notes about the bug.
This is a great tool for developers and testers alike, so hopefully we’ll start seeing more developers dropping these libraries into their code to make in-the-wild testing easier for everyone.