Cross-platform App Development Frameworks: An Aspirin for Developer Headaches

12 04 2013

mobile-appsOne of the biggest challenges facing enterprise mobile app developers today is designing and developing apps across multiple platforms. In 2011-12, having a mobile strategy was imperative as the “consumerization of IT” and “BYOD” trends pervaded. As a result, enterprises now must shift their mobile strategies to support multiple mobile devices and platforms or else, lose the power to manage all the various devices within their environment.

Some companies can focus on developing apps for just one device type or mobile OS if the devices were company-issued, but this is becoming less and less the case. Businesses and brands must support more than one device or risk backlash from select employees for not supporting their non-supported devices. Keep in mind – as prevalent as the iPhone seems to be, Android has been caught up in popularity.

Cross-platform app development frameworks are becoming critical tools for developers because they’re designed to lessen the time and resources that developers or development teams has to allocate to creating apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and beyond. By not spending excess time and effort creating apps to apply for different devices and mobile OSs, they can focus on what matters most – end user experience.

However, since each cross-platform development tool is unique and exhibits diverse features, capabilities and behaviors, developers will face increased challenges and opportunities designing successful device- and OS-agnostic mobile apps.

I recently spoke on a panel at Mobile+Web DevCon and my fellow panelists and I got into a discussion about the pros and cons of using cross-platform app development frameworks.

The Pros:

  • Reuseable Codes: Rather than having to write the specific action or sequence for each platform, a developer can just write the code once and then reuse those bits in later projects or on other platforms.
  • Plugins: Most cross-development frameworks offer easy access to plugins and modules that can easily integrate with other services and tools.
  • Easy for Web Developers: Most cross-platform frameworks are dynamic and simple for web developers to jump in and use, because many of these frameworks support HTML5 and CSS3.
  • Reduced Development Costs: This is perhaps the biggest advantage because it allows companies and brands to get an app onto other platforms without having to invest in a separate developer or team.
  • Support for Enterprise and Cloud Services: In addition to plugins and modules for specific functions, most frameworks also have the option to directly integrate with cloud services, including Salesforce.com, AWS, Box.net and others.
  • Easy Deployment: Deploying apps is much faster in a cross-platform scenario because it’s easier to incorporate one development code onto multiple devices. This is especially true with many of the new cloud-based tools that various frameworks are starting to push out.

The Cons:

  • The Framework Might Not Support Every Feature of an OS or Device: If, for example, Google, Apple or Microsoft adds a new feature, the framework being used will need to be updated to support those new functionalities.
  • You Can’t Always Use Your Own Tools: Most frameworks want users to use their own development tools and suites, and that can mean that a developer has to forgo his or her own preferences and use something else, even something unfamiliar.
  • Code Might Not Run as Fast: The cross-compilation process can sometimes be slower because it may take longer to load than native tools.
  • High-End Graphics and 3D Support is Often Limited: Fortunately, game-centric development platforms, like Unity, are here to help fill in those gaps.

When considering the pros and cons of app development, Josh Clark, Interaction Design guru, states that app design is one of the major factors cross-platform developers need to be aware of — whether they use a framework or not. Designing an app for the iPhone is different than designing one for a tablet; the UI and UX conventions are different, and touch points and menus work in different ways.

In addition to app design, it’s also important to factor in who the app is being developed for. This pertains to anything from the mobile web apps to e-publications to native apps.

Certainly a couple of years back, developers could quite safely shoot for iOS first, think about Android later and ignore everything else. Now, there are many more options, and although its pros and cons are almost equivalent in nature, taking a cross-platform approach to mobile app design and development appears to be the wave of the future for app developers.

Regardless of which platform, if not all, you’re developing for, app testing will still be one of the most critical steps of the app development lifecycle. Just because an app works fine on iOS doesn’t mean it’ll work just as well on Android devices. Likewise, just because an app works fine on an emulator doesn’t mean it’ll work fine on a real device. So, test early, test often, and on real devices to ensure the quality of the app. A trend I’m realizing is that end-users are becoming very unforgiving about buggy apps which are, quite frankly, synonymous with “revenue- and reputation-killer.” App development is a hot industry and the market is saturated with app developers, so being blasé about app quality is not an option.

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Zillow Leverages Existing Web Development Team to Develop for Mobile and Succeeds!

26 03 2013

zillow-mobileTime and training of your resources for mobile has become a tremendous problem for companies going mobile. While many testers are adept at QA, they may not be experts in mobile. Because of device fragmentation the demand for output becomes increasingly challenging for teams that do not have the bandwidth to increase their existing resources. Now, a person managing web development takes on multiple roles (to include mobile) and has less time.

With these hurdles, it creates even greater demand to have the proper testing tools and methods in place. While the number of device types and OS fragmentation makes it cumbersome and expensive for organizations to acquire and test mobile apps, there are efficient automated and real device testing tools that make this transition cost-efficient for testers and their teams. Organizations are beginning to adopt testing-as-a-service (TaaS) as a way to bolster the capabilities of QA and IT departments with testing. For these organizations, finding the right TaaS will help reduce cost and errors.

Recently, while at the Mobile Enterprise conference in San Francisco, I learned about how Zillow was able to train their existing web-based development team on how to code for the mobile environment, as opposed to hiring new mobile developers, thus reducing overlap and ramp-up time. Zillow was able to overcome the challenges and as a result, through precision-like ad placement, meet the needs of its consumers and connect them to the right person at the right time. This strategy has made it a win-win for both consumers and realtors alike.

Spencer Rascoff, chief executive officer of Zillow Inc., talks about the company’s mobile technology and real estate search services. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” http://http://bloom.bg/NK4maL

Companies such as Zillow who have been able to monetize on mobile are seeing the value and importance of testing as part of their mobile development process.





Is Apple Dominating the Mobile Enterprise Market?

12 03 2013

Screen Shot 2012-08-10 at 15.19.01In a recent article by Jonny Evans of CITE World, it would appear that Apple is starting to dominate the enterprise marketplace. For years, this was a market long-held by the king of enterprise devices – BlackBerry. However since the iPhone and it’s worldwide acceptance amongst consumers and since organizations have seen an explosion in employees bringing their own devices to work and deploying work-based apps on them it is no shock that it’s dominance would make it’s way into the enterprise. The permeation of the Android device has also made its way into the enterprise, resulting in a battle over the mobile enterprise marketplace.

In the article Mr Evans states “If you believe the latest Appcelerator/IDC survey results, poor security, explosive growth in malware threats, and device fragmentation is costing Google’s Android a place in the mobile enterprise, with Apple scooping up believers in this space.”

As an example, CITE recently discussed how PepsiCo took a chance and gave iPhones to 4,500 hourly employees — and it’s paying off.  Even at Keynote, we have seen an increase in request for iOS devices for testing of internal enterprise apps by our DeviceAnywhere customers.

Mr Evans article continues:

“Times are changing

Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 3,632 Appcelerator Titanium developers in May, asking them about their development priorities. They found that Apple now holds a 16 percent lead over Android when it comes to OS deployment among enterprise users: a huge hike since Q3 2011 when both mobile operating systems were tied. Fifty-three percent of developers say iOS will win in the enterprise, while just 37.5 percent side with Android.

The reasons? According to the survey, these include:

  • The popularity of the iPad
  • Frequent reports of Android malware
  • Enterprise challenges in dealing with Android fragmentation
  • Reports of enterprises re-evaluating widespread Android deployment outside of particular business vertical implementations like Machine-to-Machine (M2M).

When it comes to mobile at least, this is translating into an Apple-dominated ecosystem. “Apple iOS device activations still account for more than twice the number of Android activations in the enterprise when it comes to overall platform activations,” says the latest report from Good Technology. iOS accounted for 70.8 percent, Android was 28.3 percent and Windows Phone 7 was 0.9 percent, the research claims.”

Time will tell if Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform takes off as they attempt to extend their enterprise dominance with Windows to mobile.

To read more of the article from CITE go here

 





The BYOD Challenge and BlackBerry’s Answer

7 03 2013

risky-byodBYOD has presented many challenges specifically to the enterprise. Enterprises have a new challenge of managing employee devices that contain external (personal) applications combined with an organizations internal system. Many times an internal CRM app can cause conflicts with outside apps, causing them to not function properly or making them susceptible to security breaches. This puts pressure on IT teams to constantly troubleshoot new issues so that workers can maintain efficiency. While it remains risky (see infograph), employees continue to push the boundaries forcing their organizations to be more efficient and in return making them more effective employees.

Recently, BlackBerry launched their newest device, the Z10 which includes the ability to run enterprise apps and personal apps on the same device while protecting the enterprise’ network at the same time.  Called, “BlackBerry Balance” – it is a feature aimed at corporate users who want to keep their work and personal lives separate – on their phone. It allows users to store apps and data on two distinct profiles – Work and Personal. Users can easily switch between the two profiles and users who bring their device to office can easily format the Work profile when they switch jobs without having to change any setting in the personal one. This is an interesting attempt at trying to address this issue as BlackBerry fights to maintain relevance in the enterprise marketplace.

In addition, the introduction of BYOD has increased existing pain points for internal IT teams and increased the need for solid mobile app performance. IT teams are challenged with meeting the needs of the enterprise and integrating internal systems with personal devices that could have conflicting programming. The ability to testing enterprise applications on real devices to determine bugs and conflicts becomes critical.





Aricent Supports a Tier 1 UK Operator Utilizing Keynote’s DeviceAnywhere Platform for Automated Mobile Testing

4 03 2013

aricent_logo-774095Aricent Group, a global innovation and technology services company, working closely with Keynote, has developed a flexible, best-of-breed testing environment for a Tier 1 mobile network operator in the UK. This operator and other companies can now have complete visibility into how their applications and services run – in this case ten different real mobile devices running over 1,350 test cases, with growth expectations to top 3,200 test cases in the near future.

The Keynote-Aricent partnership has succeeded in removing the time-consuming process of manually testing each software update, or each new device, therefore reducing human error. By creating an automated testing environment to the operator’s specifications, testing is done by simply pressing a button.  Furthermore, the automation process clearly demonstrates the impact of different software upgrades and new features in order to create the highest level of service and quality.

Keynote’s DeviceAnywhere cloud-based platform allows companies to test mobile apps, websites and services on devices remotely – regardless of location or time – enabling operators to speed up their delivery without compromising on quality or reliability and therefore mitigating risk.

“By working with Keynote, we are able to help our customers take their services and devices to market with unprecedented speed and quality. Their solution was a natural complement to our existing network testing infrastructure.” said Adrian Luker, program manager at Aricent. “Our customers need to be completely aware of the experience they are providing for the end user. Even the smallest update can have a huge impact, and we need to know what the impact is, before it happens. Having this superior insight into what consumers will be experiencing, means that changes can happen quickly, and we can be confident that end users will see improvements, rather than be inconvenienced. This is tremendously important in reducing risk for our customers when launching any update.”

“The mobile market is highly competitive, and with smartphones making mobile Internet access increasingly prominent, the service an operator provides – in terms of updates, applications and maintenance – must be a seamless experience” said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of product management and corporate development at Keynote. “Delivering top quality service for consumers should be the highest priority for all customers, including operators, and we are delighted to be working with Aricent to deliver this. Mobile performance and functional proficiency can no longer be a guessing game, and companies need to understand exactly what customers are, and will be experiencing, in order to fully tap into these revenue streams.”

For the full release, click here





Wave of New Mobile Devices Complicates the Delivery of Optimal Mobile Experience – Keynote to the Rescue!

28 02 2013

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  • Industry Leading Mobile Testing Platform Keeps Pace with Mobile Device Market, Adding Popular Smartphones, Tablets and Mobile OS’s
  • Keynote Underscores its Position as the Definitive Leader in Mobile Testing Supporting More Than 1,000 Mobile Devices; now including iOS6, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and Windows 8 Devices on the Keynote DeviceAnywhere Platform
  • Devices added include: iPhone 5, iPad Mini, Nokia Lumia 920 and the Droid RAZR M with more on the way

Feb. 25, 2013– Keynote® (NASDAQ: KEYN), the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud testing and monitoring, today announced device support for iOS 6, Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and Windows 8 devices with its DeviceAnywhere platform. The newest additions to the Keynote device portfolio extend the company’s position as the market leader in devices supported for real mobile device testing. DeviceAnywhere support now includes the newest popular devices including the iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920 and the Droid RAZR M.

Delivering a consistent high-quality mobile experience continues to be a major challenge for companies interested in reaching a diverse universe of mobile users. Keeping up with the continually evolving device ecosystem presents some of the biggest challenges facing QA teams. While the number of operating systems and OEM device manufacturers are shrinking, device fragmentation continues to be a big issue. Testers new to mobile quickly realize that one Android device may behave quite differently than the next. Meanwhile, Apple has introduced new form factors for their iOS devices with the introduction of iPhone 5 and iPad mini. As new Windows 8 and BlackBerry OS devices also hit the market, device fragmentation adds an additional layer of complexity to mobile development. By adding the most up-to-date mobile devices to the DeviceAnywhere library, Keynote helps testers keep up with the changing mobile landscape, while maintaining the flexibility needed to address future changes.

“As an increasing number of new mobile device types and form factors arise, Keynote is delivering the most up-to-date mobile testing solutions in the market,” said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of product management and corporate development at Keynote. “The ability to test across the latest device models and form factors with real devices gives users the most accurate way to test their mobile websites and mobile apps without the overhead of purchasing and maintaining a portfolio of mobile devices. With the addition of these new devices across the DeviceAnywhere platform, users are able to leverage the power of real, remote, manual and automated device testing from the cloud.”

All existing Keynote DeviceAnywhere customers will have access to the newly supported devices from all products including: DeviceAnywhere Test Center Developer®, DeviceAnywhere TCE Interactive®, DeviceAnywhere TCE Automation® and DeviceAnywhere TCE Monitoring®.

Keynote also recently introduced DeviceAnywhere Free, the first completely free tool for remote, real device interactive testing; giving users a real-time view of their mobile websites on select smartphones via a streamlined Web interface. When a user’s needs surpasses basic spot-checking, Keynote’s Test Center Developer and Test Center Enterprise provide a seamless upgrade path to fully test mobile websites and applications.

Keynote is currently offering a free trial of the DeviceAnywhere platform. Users can experience real-device testing for mobile applications and mobile web on popular smartphones including: iPhone 5, iPad Mini, Nokia Lumia 920 and the Droid RAZR M. Go here to sign up TODAY – https://www.keynotedeviceanywhere.com/product_trial_form.html





Miss our Webinar on How to Extend your Existing IBM RQM Environment to Mobile? VIEW NOW ONLINE!

19 02 2013

IBM-RQM1IBM-Ready-for-Rational-3If you missed our webinar today on our IBM RQM integration and mobile testing in general, we encourage you to check it out for yourself! It was an amazing event, attended by many of the top Fortune 1000 companies in the US. Presenters included: Leigh Williamson, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Rational Quality Software CTO Team & Rachel Obstler, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Keynote DeviceAnywhere

Overview:
What if you could effectively manage the cost and complexity of your mobile application testing without compromising the quality of the result? An effective mobile application testing strategy that uses real devices while leveraging your existing test environment and testing methods—including manual testing, automated testing, and continuous monitoring—can help deliver better results.IBM’s mobile app testing strategy works by combining multiple testing techniques and utilizing specialized techniques and services from IBM partners, such as Keynote. Keynote’s DeviceAnywhere platform enables mobile app and website testing on real devices, helping to improve quality of your mobile applications while accelerating your test process and making it cost-effective.

During this event, Leigh Williamson from IBM and Rachel Obstler from Keynote shared:

    • How to simplify your mobile testing with test automation, while leveraging your existing environment
    • How to enable improved control over your testing processes with advanced, state-of-the-art features
    • How to utilize IBM’s Rational Quality Manager and DeviceAnywhere together to easily test on real devices with real results

VIEW NOW HERE