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BUILD2018 Begins Today

BUILD2018 is upon us, what can we expect? BUILD is the annual Microsoft Developer Conference and whilst in past years, we have seen a lot of end-user oriented announcements in addition to the slew of  amazing APIs, SDKs, apps and improvements to existing Dev platforms, rumors expect BUILD2018 to be strongly developer oriented.

So what are expectations and predictions?

Anticipate a strong keynote by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. He will no doubt highlight and reinforce the progress in realizing his vision for Microsoft. So far, this journey has delivered major increases in stock price, high customer satisfaction in consumer and business verticals and made Nadella one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential in 2018.

In the wake of this success and the public debate following Facebook / Cambridge Analytica we can probably expect more in the keynote on developer responsibility for technology impact. No doubt we will also see presentations on social good thru technology and innovation, building on the success of Project Emma from BUILD2017:

WINDOWS 10: Whilst Microsoft has made it abundantly clear that cloud not desktop is the present and future focus, we are certainly going to hear about the outstanding Windows 10 Spring Creators Update that rolled out last week.

Expect to hear roll out metrics, major feature improvements and where we can expect Windows 10 to go from here. Expect to hear about Fluent Design, the new app UI. Which features of the OS have it, and which major apps are implementing it. Of course, it being BUILD2018 Developers should anticipate that Fluent Design, Universal Windows Apps & the Windows Store will all receive a strong developer focus. Microsoft is going to want you to build your apps with Fluent Design so be ready.

We can also expect to see Cortana mentioned, now not just on Windows 10 but fully cross-platform on mobile. I predict new devices, more app integrations (and integration tools), more services and a possible announcement of a changed UI / UX for Cortana coming soon. This is one more example of Microsoft continuing to build on their Windows on Mobile strategy.

OFFICE 2019: I predict a firm release date an even a demonstration of new version of Office at BUILD2018. If so, we can expect a focus on inking, more real-time collaboration and customization. In addition, the Microsoft Graph for Windows and Office will gain increased abilities. The star features will almost certainly be Slack killer, Microsoft Teams and improvements to the Office web apps.

Popular and growing services like IOT, BOTS, AI and Microsoft’s Cognitive Services should expect mention with improved SDKs and expanded abilities. Watch these demos because the Cognitive Services will blow your socks off.

Center stage will be Azure, Satya Nadella’s baby that effectively catapulted him into the CEO seat at Redmond. We anticipate continued expansion on services, partnerships and other improvements. This is where we expect to hear more about Containers and much on DevOps in Azure.

The big Azure question is, will we finally receive an Azure Serverless competitor for Google Firebase? Come on Microsoft, Azure Functions hasn’t gained the traction that Firebase has and there is a huge opening here with all the issues Firebase has cross-platform. BUILD2018 is a huge chance for Microsoft to onboard every last developer attending the conference or watching the livestream onto a robust, easy to integrate, serverless solution.

The other big money maker is Xbox.  What developer offerings will we see? Tough to speculate but expect a mention of the ongoing success of Xbox.

MIXED REALITY (XR): There is a chance we will hear something definitive about HOLOLENS 2, even if this is just a teaser. Expect more of a focus on OEM Windows 10 VR headsets and a presentation by Unity of what’s coming for Microsoft Mixed Reality.

Obviously, both Visual Studio and SQL will be getting a lot of attention in terms of new versions, new features and new integrations for all the platforms mentioned. Expect more improvements to cross-platform development on Xamarin.

I expect that we will get a hard launch date if not the launch of Visual Studio App Center, the replacement for HockeyApp which until now has been in Beta with several major features not implemented. BUILD2018 is the ideal opportunity to launch this to release and demo the full set of features here for “continuous everything – Build, test, deploy, engage, repeat …”

BUILD2018 - Visual Studio App Center 1

BUILD2018 - Visual Studio App Center 2

In short, this conference is going to deliver more excitement to the developers who work on these platforms. What’s missing from all this?

The Warptest POV

While I would like to bet that Microsoft are going to announce new hardware or new versions of existing hardware under the Surface brand, I’m not feeling it. I hope but don’t expect an announcement about any Surface Mobile device. Even with all the rumors of Andromeda, a folding ARM tablet/ phone that can run full Windows 10, it’s hard to believe that Microsoft are ready to drop this bombshell this week. This was the Warptest POV on Microsoft and their future in mobility.

The big announcements will be certainly Azure and Visual Studio focused but expect Progressive Web Apps to be mentioned more than once in the context of UWP. We can certainly expect more announcements focusing on open sourcing of development related technologies.

If I had to sum up my predictions, it would be that Microsoft are going to demonstrate a strong investment in building an even better Developer Community. Everything about BUILD2018 is going to be about driving more developers to invest in creating apps for the Windows and Office Stores but also to continue to force the competition to innovate at the same pace as Microsoft has been doing over the last few years.

Above is my latest video where I speak about all this. What do you expect or predict to hear this week?

Embracing the Obstacle

The obstacle. What is it?

GUEST POST: the following is a guest post by close friend Dan Shernicoff AKA @BrasSMan75. He’s written for Warptest in the past about WiFi Security and knows his stuff. Thanks for contributing Dan. Read on folks …

As a relatively freshly minted CSM I clearly remember the instructor saying that what Scrum does best is shine a light on the dysfunctions. It’s true, Scrum shows us where our problems are. Sometimes it shows us the boulders in our path and at other times we see the pebbles. What’s universal with these is they cost us in time, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Why We Test

When we write software, we test it to identify the bugs in our code. We try to find the success cases and the failure ones; we test both positive and negative outcomes. Having run all our test cases we invariably have found bugs – some are boulders that might require a redesign of the functionality while others are pebbles that we need to address to keep our users from failing while others yet are just gravel, annoying but of minimal consequence.

As we integrate Scrum we are constantly testing ourselves and our processes. Just as we found bugs in our code when we tested our software we will also find bugs in our processes, systems, workflows, and teams. Some of these are boulders that require major changes to how we get our work done while others are smaller and cause inefficiencies, distractions, and loss of productivity.

Just as we track our bugs in whatever tool we choose we use we need to track our obstacles. Just as we don’t take bugs personally – they’re mistakes we made while doing the best we could – we can’t take obstacles personally. We need to “embrace our obstacles,” give them a big hug, and show them the door. The only way that we can truly benefit from Scrum is not by marking the bumps in the road but by removing them.

obstacle - agile - tree trunk

The BrasSMan75 POV

I say all this with the self-knowledge that I have kicked myself many times for bugs that I have introduced into the code (and into the process at times.) I know this is hard but if we don’t do it we will never evolve our teams into their best versions. Whether the obstacle is that we run out of coffee the day before we resupply the break room every time (whether it is because we don’t order enough or we wait until we run out is irrelevant,) or that the tool that we have decided to use is unwieldy and not giving us what we need, or that we are having excessive meetings to communicate data that is easily accessible should we use the tools at our disposal, we need to address the problem. In the first case it’s simply a matter of changing the ordering habits, in the second we need to take time and try to find either ways to improve the tool or a tool to replace it with that will meet our need, while in the third we might need to train the people calling the meetings on how to use the tools to get the information.

As we develop and test our code we look for our bugs and fix them. As we go ahead with our stand ups, our retrospectives, and our sprints we need to look out for the obstacles and fix them. When we see the obstacle, we need to run up to it, give it a hug, and show it the door.

The Warptest POV

Dan raises a few interesting points here about our work habits, productivity and how we need to be engaged with the process for sprints to succeed. Agile can lead to rote adoption of the “rituals”. Framing the work in terms of the obstacle and how we behave when we encounter it is a valuable mindset. Thanks again Dan.

Augmented Reality Is Content…

Augmented Reality and by extension Virtual and Mixed Reality are the new content. Content is king. We’ve all heard it and read it multiple times over the last decade.

Content about us or our brand has an impact both positive and negative, often spreading virally.

Augmented Reality presents new challenges in how we manage and maintain our brand or reputation.

Ownership Issues

Augmented Reality is often location based. Just look at Pokemon Go, Snapchat / Instagram Location Based Stories and others. In the past, if content was written about you, your brand or physical site of your company, it was all about where it was hosted (blogs, social media, even video or Yelp reviews) but the big change with Augmented Reality is that the content is at your location and short of banning the use of apps or smartphones onsite, anyone can create AR content that is tied irrevocably to your location.

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Museums and art galleries are experiencing a reality where anyone can add digital content to them. Imagine the scenario where someone either creates an inappropriate or unwanted AR. Control of the ether has flown the coop.

Some see this as a positive transformation, but the big question is, how do you curate this content? In fact, can a museum, gallery or any other private or public entity claim ownership of the location base for the content added as an AR?

Does a museum etc even have any direct redress opposite the app developers to have reputation damaging AR removed? Imagine a politician running a campaign and his opposition creating an AR at his campaign HQ or his next speaking venue. What if the location is controversial and Augmented Reality added by visitors contains strong or equally controversial opinions.

The idea behind Augmented Reality as an immersive, additional layer of rich data that offers an experience we wouldn’t otherwise get is a powerful one. AR apps are not just about social media but also useful in industry, education and can contribute to a museum experience. With ARKit and ARCore our smartphones make it easier for us to create and consume AR content but with great power, comes great responsibility. Or does it in this case? Is the genie simply out of the bottle?

The Warptest POV

Instagram as an example is something we can be calmer about. In paying homage to Snapchat Stories, Instagram made this content temporary so the damage of a negative or unwanted AR is limited. Prior posts have raised the idea that technological disruption can swiftly become our Frankenstein’s Monster. I’m sure if you read the (example) Snapchat terms and conditions, there are clauses that indemnify the company and they clearly have guidelines for approving “lenses” and geo-filters. Snapchat are only one player in the AR market, Quis custodiet ipsod custodes?

Once again, legislation lags behind innovation. Can Augmented Reality content be considered intellectual property? Does ownership of the location supersede any right to create location base content? Is there even a way for a brand or person to easily monitor their AR reputation?

Museums and others like them will have to find solutions to this issue. This is a huge opportunity. An opportunity for the app creators to deliver a solution for searching locations for this Augmented Reality content. As for an appeal process for owners to claim their location and be able to request that apps take down hostile, offensive or other allegedly inappropriate content, search engines offer a similar solution so why not?

Third party developers may be able to develop a reputation management solution if these AR platforms offer an API that supports this.

Here’s a free suggestion for you Dennis, Swarm (formerly the app known as Foursquare) displays photos of check-in locations why not similarly offer AR for the check-in?

Augmented Reality - Swarm app

The real opportunity is for us to use location based Augmented Reality constructively.

We seem to have failed somewhat with Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, let’s not fail with Augmented Reality.

Automated QA Yada Yada Yada

Another year of recurring discussions online how the silver bullet of automated QA is killing manual QA. This ongoing trend has had several impacts on the market, not all of them positive.

The Impact of Automated QA

1. Craftmanship is dying not manual testing. Do you know one person who is a craftsman in anything or have they been replaced by mass industrialized process? This is progress you say?

Junior testers feel driven to dive head-first into automated QA before they have learnt the craft of testing. They see automation as the end product, not as a means to implementing the tests and methodology they never had a chance to learn about. What do they spend their time learning, how the product works under the hood or the intricacies of their chosen automated QA framework?

2. QA Managers are super-powered, high octane, ninjas but, at a high cost. If you are a QA Manager then you had best be a full-stack test professional, who can manage a team, function as mentor, be an oracle for the product technology, generate dashboards, manage DevOps / ALM tools but also dedicate yourself to hands-on implementation of automated QA yourself.

Why? Because QA professionals have sold to companies that it is possible and optimal that one person is capable of doing this without compromising quality (ironic much?) of management. QA Managers are being forced to sacrifice their strategic responsibilities for tactical operations for what? Burn rate or simply because this idea stands unopposed?

Analogous to this, when is the last time your Development Manager spent a meaningful portion of their work day writing code?

3. Don’t shoot the messenger. Did we forget that the essence of our job is to report our findings? Often we report defects, overall quality of a build but also we raise red flags. We provide preventive treatment for issues before they go to production but if our underlying methodology is flawed where does that leave us?

When the silver bullet doesn’t live up to expectations, the messenger is not always viewed favorably.

The Warptest POV

We frequently cite Michael Bolton on his philosophy regarding testing vs checking and where automated QA falls into this. Here is one of his tweets, yet do we really work this way, evangelize this philosophy to our companies? It doesn’t seem so.

In recent days they asked Elon Musk about delivery problems in his company Tesla and his answer, I built too much on automation capabilities. If Elon Musk can admit that automation is not the magical solution (read the tweet below) then isn’t it time we considered the same?

Elon Musk’s admission has much further reaching implications than simply admitting over-reliance on automation. Musk admits that the role of human workers in successful delivery is underrated.

How do we refactor our methodology to redeem the human role in testing and QA?

In a nutshell, the perceptual bias towards automated QA needs a stake driving thru its heart.

Whilst I have used existing terminology and semantics to avoid confusion (manual vs automated QA, testing, etc.) this is clearly a major reason why Michael Bolton goes to great lengths to use accurate and appropriate terminology (again see his tweet above and many other of his posts, tweets etc for more).

In fact, there are technologies that cannot be tested with Automated QA, the existing frameworks aren’t mature enough to provide a solution. We can create partial solutions but we run the risk of becoming over-enamored with the solution as a product and not executing our tests on the actual product.

If we can get past this misconception about how we test, then maybe we can get to meaningful discussion about how we reframe optimal use and understanding of automated QA.

Two ideas I discussed today on a Facebook group for Israeli testers (in Hebrew) were: –

  • Test planning and design is an umbrella that provides coverage for your tests:

automated QA - umbrella

  • Testing debt – testing should be agile but not just in the sense of testers in the agile team. Not just in the sense of testing as part of the sprint. Every tester, regardless of the tools they use must be aware of how they and their tests integrate into the testing process.

It’s 2018, are you ready to focus on the optimal and correct way to use automated QA?

Windows on Mobile Is an Interesting Concept But …

Windows on Mobile is not just a concept anymore. Microsoft’s Windows Phone continued to lose market share, thru benign indifference, continued poor marketing or a management decision to allow it to slowly decline to be ultimately be replaced by what?

Windows on Mobile - Bryan

Microsoft did not want to allow a vacuum to develop in the interim. Did Windows on Mobile became the go-to strategy by default?

What Is This Windows on Mobile of Which You Speak?

If Microsoft couldn’t get us on their devices, they were damn sure going to get us on their cloud, SAAS and apps. There was a vision, where any smartphone on any platform would be a Microsoft phone. Regardless if your phone ran Android or IOS, you would be using Office365, OneDrive, Skype, Edge and other Microsoft services for personal and business use. Your phone would sync seamlessly with your desktop / laptop device and even allow you to continue your browsing session from mobile on your desktop PC.

Your Contacts, Calendar and other critical work and play information would work with Microsoft services. All these instead of Google or Apple services. Windows on Mobile is platform agnostic, service based and dominantly Microsoft driven. All with the same user and login details that you use to access your PC.

The use case was for everyone, home users, education, business and more. Using familiar tools and services, no matter where you are and what device you are using. No learning curve, just connect devices to the Microsoft account and keep on working.

The attraction of being able to choose what services and apps are at the core of your device and be able to remove the redundant ones has big appeal to many users. There was even talk in the past of Android phones coming pre-installed with Microsoft services and apps and not the Google equivalents.

SPOILER ALERT: every time you buy an Android phone or tablet, the big winner? Surprise, It’s Microsoft.

A Forbes article from 2015 explains the details of how Microsoft holds a slew of patents for Android which is a golden goose in licensing fees.

There had been a rumor in 2016 that Microsoft was interested in purchasing Cyanogen, back before they shuttered and open sourced the code. The anticipated strategy was to provide an Android ROM with all your Microsoft apps and services bundled.

Still the business strategists at Redmond knew better than to have one plan. Even before this, Microsoft has become the uncrowned king of cross-platform apps. Jump forward to 2018 and your Android smartphone’s best launcher is made by Microsoft, you can use Edge on Android which works with Cortana. All this and more.

Windows on Mobile - All the Android Microsoft apps

The Warptest POV

The idea of Windows on Mobile is an interesting one. Especially if you are a COO or IT Manager and you want your employees to have access to your Microsoft services outside the office.

Most Android device owners chose the OS and their phone specifically for Google Apps and services and are skeptical about replacing Chrome with Edge, Google Apps with Office and so on.

There is certainly a substantial section of Android owners who are happy to have both Google and Microsoft services running on their phone as needed. When Microsoft and Nokia were getting into bed together, the Nokia X family of devices were floated as Android out-of-the-box with Microsoft services installed. Microsoft cancelled these phones 5 months after acquiring Nokia though.

The idea appeals to many ex-Windows Phone owners who opted to leave the platform for Android but want to retain some of their comfort zone and don’t want to move away from these services and apps.

The fact is that Microsoft doesn’t need Windows on Mobile except as a way of retaining and onboarding more users to their apps, services and cloud, regardless of OS.

In a nutshell, Microsoft is providing an answer for Android & IOS users who want a Windows on Mobile solution, whether exclusively or not. All this may just be a stopgap solution that allows Windows Mobile to die gracefully while Microsoft work on their rumored, disruptive folding mobile device that finally delivers a true Windows 10 Mobile experience.

The rumored Microsoft “Andromeda” folding mobile tablet

Where do you stand on Windows on Mobile? Are you ready for an Android smartphone devoid of Google services or are you rooting for Andromeda?

Either way, Windows on Mobile offers a competitive push to Google & Apple. What are they going to do with it?

Boston Dynamics Can Solve Autonomous Vehicles Biggest Problem

The Boston Dynamics robots are successors to Robby the Robot  and they are not cute and often just a bit worrying to see in action.


Visions of robot uprisings, SkyNet and Terminators aside, these robots are astounding and can fill many roles that will complement humans or protect them. The US Navy announced SAFFIR, their firefighting robot prototype in 2015. The idea being SAFFIR can go into enclosed, smoke filled spaces aboard ships and fight fires instead of risking sailors.

Big Dog or the LS3 was a DARPA robot designed to carry heavy loads into the field, accompanying soldiers or marines.

We have military applications of cutting-edge robotics and yes, these robots make a lot of people feel uncomfortable but, military technology (when not weaponized) often migrates into the civilian market. How can these robots play a meaningful role in civvy street?

What’s the problem?

Yesterday, I posted about the first autonomous vehicle related fatality to occur and how technological disruption without ethical exploration of impact could be our Frankenstein’s Monster. In a related Facebook discussion with friends it occurred to me that calling the phase of releasing these vehicles onto city streets for “testing”, albeit with human monitors is optimistic at best. That said, I have found it very hard to find details online about the end-to-end testing methodology employed. The one source I did find was the California DMV site regulations for testing autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle testing - Boston Dynamics

I came away with several big questions:

Testing questions - Boston Dynamics

Besides questions there are some assumptions:

Stages of testing: one can safely assume that software is unit tested by developers and then the autonomous integrated systems are tested through simulators. What other stages of testing are there prior to testing in the real-world?

What is being tested: One can assume that the comprehensive list of features that allow an autonomous vehicle to function and interact in real-time are under test.

Test-cases: the different scenarios tested will range from functional tests, thru load and stress of the system into emergency scenarios.

Testing success: what is the pass / fail criteria for approving an autonomous vehicle to be released for general, real-world use? One assumes the tolerance for error is almost zero.

The Warptest POV

Autonomous vehicles certainly fit the description of technological disruption and their impact on the real world can be wondrous or catastrophic. A lot of which, depends on the depth at which they are tested.

Whilst I am certain crash-test dummies were used as in any automotive testing, this does not deliver the level of testing that IMHO is needed. Boston Dynamics has the solution. The testing stage before real-world testing where human drivers in other cars, bikes, trucks and pedestrians are all involved would be to build a testing environment that replicates the real world and to mitigate the risk to human testers, use Boston Dynamics robots to be the test-data used to run the different test cases.

The test-cases would have to provide optimal coverage of every conceivable scenario, but that data is waiting to be analyzed and derived by a good data scientist. Every recorded traffic mishap, accident, crime or fatality is a test-case that needs testing and this can be done in a testing environment that can replicate all weather conditions (and other variables). Another layer of testing will have to be the behavioral algorithms that allow autonomous vehicles to make critical decisions. If a vehicle is placed in a no-win scenario where either a passenger or pedestrian is sure of being hurt or killed, does the vehicle respond as expected and what is expected behavior? Is it based on learning or something else?

The good news is Boston Robotics or someone like them can provide a critical facet to this testing so that spontaneous pedestrian actions can be tested without risk.

SkyNet not - Boston Dynamics

Image via YouTube: with thanks to Terminator: Judgement Day.

Instead of being creepy robots that make some think we are one step away from SkyNet, these robots can be our path to safer autonomous vehicles.

Let me know if you think Boston Dynamics can solve this, if these robots creep you out or if you are building your post-SkyNet bunker after seeing the videos above.

Technological Disruption Is Evolving Beyond Our Control.

Technological Disruption has been on my mind for several months and yesterday it came to boiling point.

I wrote about this first in this post.

Technological Disruption: Truth and Consequences

Working backwards from yesterday we can see that unfettered disruption without testing and validation of the ramifications in the wild have major consequences:

The first death of a pedestrian by autonomous vehicle occurred yesterday in the US and while law enforcement are claiming that the car may not be responsible. Do pedestrians know how to interact with autonomous vehicles in the wild? Simple answer: NO. Especially as these vehicles fundamentally look just the same as your everyday vehicles. Where are the Asimov 3 Laws of Robotics?

Technology disruption - robotsImage courtesy of Microsoft Paint3D – Remix 3D library

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have made us all feel naked and vulnerable due to the massive exploitation of our collective social footprints, our digital identities being taken without knowledge and used to effectively socially engineer us all regarding the 2016 US Elections. Freemium apps mean just this, you are ceding control of your digital identity when you freely share things. Our mobile devices have evolved around this whole precept but we have strong expectations of how that data is used and the transparency behind its use.

Technological disruption - Facebook

A few months ago an acquaintance was talking about how Waze has changed their quiet street where kids can play into a dangerous bypass route that cars speed down, anytime the adjacent major roads are blocked. Speaking to Waze (Google) and their City officials hadn’t made dent in the issue at last check.

AirB&B & Uber along with other sharing economy startups have a huge issue with background checks for hosts, guests, drivers and passengers … and the list goes on, not even counting data breaches like Equifax.

The Warptest POV

So I’m asking again, how do these companies challenge themselves to explore or test the ethical ramifications of their disruptive products before and after they reach the real world? Or is the genie out of the bottle and we need to learn how to live with this modern-day Frankenstein’s Monster.

Video clip from YouTuber iiAFX
This takes a special kind of mindset able to see technology as a product, an ability to perceive its place in different cultures and environments and how it interacts with all kinds of people in different demographics. Ultimately it needs a fearless mindset, a willingness to ensure that as an agent of change, the change is positive and beneficial.

Reliance on legislators is not a solution, whilst the EU are counting down to the deadline for GDPR compliance, other countries will legislate different standards eventually but these will be based on a variety of factors, not least the ability of public servants and politicians to comprehend what technological disruption is, how it works and the impacts we can expect. We can reasonably assume that different countries laws might end up being contradictory or intentionally in conflict. Good luck with that.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Who watches the Watchmen?

Facebook and others will need to police themselves better but ultimately freemium apps rely on us, our data, our willingness to exist in their virtual worlds. We are their fuel and their monetization.

I am not advocating like some a mass deletion of our Facebook profiles, remember the same company also owns your much loved Instagram and ubiquitous WhatsApp. Still Facebook, Twitter and others need to make this a priority. We are talking about a  fundamental comprehension that symbiosis beats mutually assured destruction.

Ironically, much of what is being suggested online to resolve these things is a symptom of the problem. Issues like this cannot be solved with a hashtag, 14 characters or a snarky meme going viral.

For years we have heard how important DRM Digital Rights Management is for music, movies etc. where is our personal DRM? Can we disrupt Technological Disruption without inhibiting innovation?

These disruptive companies need to be much more transparent about their practices but also about the ethical challenges their technologies face and how they are solving these issues.

So if you want to comment, share ideas on the subject or just chime in.. Feel free.

If you know of a company that has a Chief Ethics Officer or a team that tests the ethical impact of their products then for sure let me know.

One thing I promise, whatever you share.. I will only be using that data for good.

That’s Right Unity Is Not Dealing With This Critical Issue

Unity are one of the biggest, if not biggest 2D & 3D game engines on the market. The company supports every conceivable, mainstream platform from mobile, thru desktop, Web to Virtual / Mixed Reality headsets.

Unity logo

This is the company that Apple & Google speak to when they want to role out ARCore & ARKit. By the time WWDC or Google annual conference role around, there is a beta version of Unity waiting in the wings with support for these changes.

Unity - ARCore
Unity - ARKit

If you have used a mainstream VR/MR app on Oculus Rift, HoloLens or HTC Vive then the likelihood is, that it was built in the Unity Editor.

Over the last year, a lot has changed for the company, especially instead of major version roll-outs, each subversion being released into Beta isn’t just bug fixes and iterations. Instead, these Beta sub-versions contain major new features and Unity isn’t shy about being transparent with their roadmap.

The big news is that Unity are making major inroads into the movie industry. They teamed with Neil Blomkamp to create the amazing animations for his OATS Studios movie shorts.

Many pundits believe that Unity is preparing themselves for an IPO with these changes, several major new strategic alliances and changes to the company board.

What Does Unity Need To Fix?

Ultimately, Unity provides a software development platform in their Editor. Code is written in C# and subject to the platform you are building your game or app on, the code is converted (e.g. conversion to C++ for IOS via IL2CPP). Notwithstanding the inability of the Editor to provide Developers with a mechanism to select all the platforms needed and run a cross-platform build script; this is not the major failing.

Their Editor has built in facility for Unit Testing via NUnit as part of Unity Test Runner.

Unity - Test Runner

QA can preview the scenes in the Editor but, Unity does not support Automated UI Testing on devices.

Once you have built your apps, you have no way except hands and eyeballs testing (more commonly argued over as “manual testing”) to test whether your IOS / Android / WebGL app functions or delivers the UI as expected.

Anyone who works in QA knows that standard practice is to incorporate automated UI tests using frameworks like Selenium for web testing and or, Appium for mobile apps.

These frameworks rely on the ability to recognize and map UI elements and objects with the app UI but Unity apps are a Black Box as far as Selenium or Appium are concerned. If you can’t map the UI elements and objects, then you can’t script clicks, swipes, text inputs or other simulations of real user behaviors.

This leaves game and app makers with 3 alternatives:

Unity - Testing

Manual testing alone is labor intensive, time consuming and repetitive. Cost aside it depends on skilled testers with the ability to catch and report bugs.

Customer testing is an oxymoron and often a disaster waiting to happen and yet some companies have no issue releasing their applications to their customers after only catching the critical issues.

Crowdsource testing is a good interim solution where companies lacking the testing personnel and is done by paying a 3rd party crowdsource company to deliver the warm bodies needed to test on personal devices for what amounts to first-to-find bug bounties.

The Warptest POV

Over the last year, I along with one of my QA Engineers tested several so-called automated testing solutions for Unity apps. Most didn’t make it out of the starting gate. Others showed early promise but needed extensive investment in development and testing to be anything more than a proof-of-concept.

All you need to do is search Unity’s Community Forums to see this is in high demand. Many companies and Unity personnel I spoke to online were interested to hear what we had discovered but if Unity want their community of 2D / 3D game, application and movie animation makers to deliver robust, well-tested products then automated UI testing needs to happen.

Unity - GDC

Today at 6.30pm Pacific Time, GDC, the Game Developers Conference kicks off. Don’t disappoint me Unity.

UPDATE

This is Unity’s summary blog post of their keynote at GDC. Color me disappointed, no mention of automated UI testing. Now I get it, automated testing in VR is a big challenge but choosing between doing nothing and at least supporting web / mobile automated testing on device, the choice is simple. FWIW if I had to choose between Unity and a platform that supports automated testing, the choice would be simple.

This is me throwing down the gauntlet Unity.

LinkedIn Has Everything Going For It, Except …

Is livestreaming a major missing feature from LinkedIn?

LinkedIn - livestream - app

Until now, Microsoft has not ventured seriously into the livestreaming niche, allowing big guns like YouTube & Facebook to dominate unrestricted streaming and Twitter’s Periscope to compete over mobile.

Since Microsoft had no meaningful social platform of their own (until the acquisition of LinkedIn) and with the death-by-degrees of Windows 10 Mobile .. to be replaced by a new, unknown, no-deadline mobile strategy, it was hard for Microsoft to leverage the need for streaming.

Why Does LinkedIn Need Livestreaming?

LinkedIn has a fight on its hands as Facebook invades the job networking / search niche. Facebook doesn’t waste time, they leverage their tools for personal users, then pages and or groups.

LinkedIn - Facebook

You can be sure the full suite of Facebook tools will be available to job seekers or companies looking to find top flight candidates.

LinkedIn - fight night

What could be better than seeing how a candidate handles live engagement by streaming their professional interests. This is infinitely better than a static resume, (searchable) LinkedIn profile or seeing a candidate’s engagement in groups. Recruiters get to observe speech patterns, passion, body language and introversion levels.

Job seekers benefit by being able to leverage this tool to fully promote themselves. A smart candidate will build a strategy for ensuring what they livestream will be polished, professional and relevant.

The Warptest POV

Job hunting is about using every advantage to stand-out and be noticed for your skills, knowledge and personality. To show recruiters that you are a good fit for the role they are looking to fill. So why doesn’t LinkedIn have livestreaming to allow you to do just that?

Right now, Microsoft has the technology but needs to integrate it into LinkedIn. Maybe they don’t see the value or maybe this should be a Premium feature. Where is this technology? Gaming and Social. Microsoft acquired social livestreaming company, Beam in August of 2016 and it’s now ported to Xbox as MIXER. Mixer is live game-streaming for Xbox and a cross-platform app.

Meanwhile since I started writing this, Microsoft and LinkedIn announced the integration of Word as the Resume Assistant, as predicted in the Warptest POV here, back in June 2016.

Should Redmond decide to take the Mixer technology and port it to LinkedIn (or Office and several other Microsoft platforms or technologies), then imagine applying for a job in real-time by livestreaming. What else can they bring to the pot? Bundle this in Skype with social integration or integration with Office 365’s Stream and you have a serious killer app. Stream isn’t just your company YouTube, videos you upload provide searchable speech-to-text captioning and facial recognition of people in your video. The livestreams you record can be saved thru Stream into your OneDrive. Shared thru Stream and turned into searchable video experiences.

Microsoft has the technology, all they need to do is find a way to bring it together and LinkedIn will compete on an even playing field with Facebook. Are you ready to stream your next job application?

Satya we’re overdue for a chat about Windows Mobile

Dear Satya, It’s time we spoke about Windows Mobile.

Windows Mobile - Satya Nadella

It’s been a while since I wrote you. You’ve been doing great things, mainly in the enterprise arena but hey, earnings and stock value for MSFT are great. The accolades you are receiving are all deserved and fully earned. You’ve done incredible things as the driving force behind the new Microsoft. MSIgnite 2017 has been a rampant success so far again predominantly for the Enterprise.

That said, I and a couple of others (gross understatement) are concerned about Microsoft’s commitment to the consumer market. Whilst platforms live on, you’ve basically ceded the mobile handset market to OEMs and likewise with wearables and VR headsets. Microsoft has become a high quality, prototyping factory to drive the direction of these hardware markets and the OEMs who exist there.

I get it, I really do. Microsoft is not a hardware company. That said, ignoring the mobile market or killing what you have thru perceived ambivalence, benign neglect or marketer fear is not the solution.

Is Windows 10 Mobile in it’s current evolution nearing it’s end? It doesn’t matter unless like me you are a Windows Phone owner. Us Windows Phone owners are not the people you have to win over with the next evolution of Windows mobile strategy. That said, we are waiting, anticipating and serious about what’s next:

Windows 10 on ARM devices. We expect this to be a winning mobile strategy for everyone.

A Vision For Windows Mobile / The Warptest POV

I thought I should share with you all the things that are needed to make a disruptive reentry into mobile and win serious market share.

What does ARM and full Windows 10 mean? It means one OS (no RT, no W10M) with Fluent design and Cshell providing an adaptive UI for Windows, the OS and apps will actually be Universal. Allegedly the latest reports refer to this all as Andromeda OS.

This is nothing new for Warptest, the idea of a responsive OS experience has been pushed on this blog since 2014.

It means the idea of running full-blown 64 bit apps from a mobile device may come true. This doesn’t mean you have to shoehorn this into the enterprise niche but consumer and enterprise devices, why not?

A democratic PC in the pocket for all…

If Microsoft designs a handset to Surface design standards and materials and doesn’t compromise form factor or battery life then this might succeed.

Surface - Windows MobileImage of Surface Pro 4 with thanks to Microsoft

Any mobile device doesn’t just need killer design and materials. It needs a serious raft of accessories from brand names but, it also needs to compete in the AR/ VR / MR market against the expected iPhone, the Pixel & phones like the One Hydrogen. We need a Holophone.

Most of all the people like Joe Belfiore associated with Windows Phone need to progress up and out of mobile. Microsoft needs an aggressive new team, able and willing to evangelize to Developers and ensure deals with Twitter, Facebook and others for up-to-date features like FB Live, Periscope and frankly for Microsoft themselves to man up and deliver apps and features to Windows Mobile first. Keep in mind just how many features seen at the recent iPhone 8 / X launch event already existed in Windows 10 Mobile (if not Windows Phone 8.1).

I’m not telling you anything new here Satya, but it needs to be said and by association this strategy needs to be applied to VR and wearables, including a Surface Watch (not just a niche sports band). Microsoft can still win in the mobile arena and your loyal consumer base in mobile are one building block in this strategy.

When you are ready, get in touch and let’s win back mobile.

WhatsApp For Business Is Big Business…

Watch out Slack, watch out Microsoft Teams… it was inevitable that with Facebook Workplace we would get WhatsApp for Business in some shape or form.

Next up Instagram Enterprise? Will companies expect employees at conferences, corporate retreats and more to upload their images and videos to their company, shared Instagram?

Just how many FB apps are we going to end up with on BYOD handsets in the workplace and what is this going to mean for a work culture where people are always connected and apps like WhatsApp promote an expectation of real-time response no matter the hour.

The Reality: WhatsApp for Business

This is not what WhatsApp are planning. They are too smart to overload personal devices with duplicate apps. There is no added advantage to a separate app (skype vs Skype for Business anyone?)

The WhatsApp FAQ refers to the roll-out of Verified Business numbers:

WhatsApp for Business - verified business accounts

Since starting to write this, WhatsApp have expanded on what WhatsApp for Businesses actually means. They refer to several key elements worth noting: –

WhatsApp for Business - Major features

The Warptest POV

First the earlier comparison to Slack or Teams is wrong. WhatsApp are not looking to build a workplace group chat app in this case. WhatsApp for Business is to connect businesses to their customers. Furthermore, we can expect this connection to enable actions that until now occurred in the real world or the web: Customer Support, E-Commerce and more.

WhatsApp will become a channel for businesses to make money without they or their customers ever having to leave the app.

Facebook have mastered the business model of building apps into platforms for personal engagement, leveraging these into business tools and allowing their customers to monetize through their ecosystem. This is going to be no different. The real beauty of WhatsApp for Business is the comfort zone. Users confronted with support ticketing or commerce will engage thru a familiar UI / UX and there will be no learning curve. This is the same app they use for school groups, family chats and other everyday scenarios. WhatsApp’s ubiquity makes it ideal for business adoption but to make it a true success it needs the ability to create integrations with external tools and data-sources.

Personally, I find WhatsApp to be a huge daily annoyance. Truthfully, it’s probably not the app itself, it’s how people use it and that the web-app is not standalone. Amongst my groups, there are groups treating it as a workplace chat app. I have people who send endless streams of multiple photos. Come on folks, this is thoughtless and eats the battery of other people’s devices, even if they aren’t downloading all your photos.

I’m not a huge fan of WhatsApp and I feel the need to frequently cull conversations. For me it’s all about signal to noise ratio and the psychology of the app. That said, the WhatsApp for Business team are smart enough to acknowledge the potential for abuse by spammers or advertisers, so the FAQs explain how consumers can block businesses they don’t wish to hear from.

I think we can safely assume that there will be a clear monetization strategy behind businesses verifying and maintaining engagement through WhatsApp.

WhatsApp for Business - WhatsAppocalypse

So, WhatsApp for business, a shining hope or potential for WhatsAppocalypse? What do you think?

Windows Mobile Is Not Dead It’s Just Sleeping?

News and bloggers are gleefully reporting the death of Windows Mobile .. again.

Windows Mobile - Bullshit

In fact, Microsoft just announced end of support for Windows Phone 8.1, the version supplanted by Windows 10 Mobile.

The lazy, trollish and misrepresentative reporting has haunted Microsoft’s mobile platform throughout each of its evolutions.

This is not to say that Microsoft has not repeatedly managed to do a remarkably poor job of marketing the platform and their own flagship devices. Nor were Microsoft able to evangelize to the developer community to entice the same adoption as IOS or Android.

Microsoft has addressed the issue of app parity in the Windows Mobile ecosystem with the combination of the IOS Bridge to UWP, UWP apps themselves and Project Centennial to convert old-style Windows apps to UWP, there is still life in the brand. Redmond still needs to forcefully encourage as many apps as possible to build UWP versions.

As it stands, many Windows Mobile owners feel the benign neglect stemming from Redmond is a way of parting from the past of the OS while developing the rumored Surface Mobile Device;

Surface Phone?

The Surface “Phone” has been rumored to be designed for running full-blown 64 bit Windows apps; a phab form factor or the implementation of a patent for a foldable screen device that opens from phone to tablet seamlessly. One thing we know for certain, this device will maximize the full potential of Microsoft’s CShell for Windows 10.

Many believe the device is being held-back by a waiting game for the right ARM-64 processor and GPU combined with the latest alleged leak that the Surface Mobile Device will be an AR / VR/ MR supporting device… a Hololens Phone. This rumor is propped up by the allegation that brain-behind the Hololens, Alex Kipman is leading the charge to deliver this device, even though the head of Microsoft Devices is still Panos Panay.

HoloLens - Alex Kipman

One thing is for sure, Microsoft needs to get this right in terms of design, materials, feature set, spec, delivery and especially marketing.

Marketing this atop of the history of Microsoft’s mobile strategy requires radical strategy. Before all you ace tech reporters and bloggers dig Windows Mobile’s grave, check the facts and save us your hot air.

The mobile markets are ripe for a change. Go big or go home Satya.