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All posts tagged Android

Mobile Testing Is Different

Mobile Testing or Mobile QA has taught us that the traditional testing approaches and methodologies need tweaking or changing. What worked as a defined process for testing desktop, client-server or web applications didn’t exactly fit mobile.

If you are a tester who is just starting to test on mobile or simply want a fresh perspective (even dare I say it a mobile Developer) then this is for you. Of course, if you are simply interested in the subject feel free to read on as well.

12 Critical Mobile Testing Issues:

  1. Fragmentation: as a tester you may have to support not only Android and IOS but, multiple devices and OS versions. Android especially is a market with hundreds of devices of varying specifications. Screen size, resolution, processors, memory and more all have impact on device performance and behavior. Now factor in that Apple and Google both release new devices at least once a year but, depending on the countries in your market, there may be many Android OEM devices you want or need to support.
  2. Mobile Device Labs: if fragmentation is a problem, this is a solution worth investigating. Some testers have their own devices onsite but for many who don’t have the budget, or want a more expansive solution then SAAS solutions where the tester can connect to live devices thru a web application this delivers nicely. The tester can choose the devices and with some solutions can run both manual or automated test scenarios.
  3. Compliance: mobile testing of apps requires the tester to be fully familiar with the rules of the App Store and Play Store. (Of course there are other stores beyond just Apple and Google) In addition, compliance has grown to include GDPR and Disability support.
  4. App Types: Mobile allows us to create apps of different types and technological base: native apps, mobile web apps, hybrid apps and more recently Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Each of these has their own testing challenges, scenarios and scope.
  5. In-app Purchase: IAP is a niche in E-Commerce where the customer can make purchases from within the app. Examples can be E-books, multimedia, game purchases (allowing the game player to progress in the game faster) and real-world items. IAP has it’s own compliance standards for each store and can be more complex to test that run-of-the-mill E-Commerce.
  6. Alpha / Beta testing: if you are testing an app intended for the App or Play Store then how do you get this into the hands of a small group of alpha or beta testers without publishing the app? Apple allows Developer Account holders to use Testflight to do this and Google has Play Store Alpha / Beta testing. Once these apps are published and distributed to your selected testing group, you can easily publish to the Stores on completion of your test review or roll to a new bug-fix version as needed. In the case of testing features like in-app purchase, the tester needs this option to facilitate test purchases.
  7. Crash Logs and Analytics: mobile testing requires a skilled tester to have a strong familiarity with logs on devices and services that provide crash and user analytics. Crash logs can be accessed from test devices by connecting IOS devices to XCode and Android devices to Android Studio. There are other methods but these often are the fastest when you want to add the critical information to the bug you are reporting. Crash analytics are frequently a SAAS solution that will show the tester frequency of bugs, and which devices or OS version(s) the bug reproduces on. Each provide actionable intelligence at different scales. Crashlytics is one popular example which can be added to your apps.
  8. App Distribution: there are cases where you may not want to publish an app to the App / Play Store or you want to distribute an app for internal or enterprise use. In these cases solutions like HockeyApp, now renamed and revamped as Visual Studio App Center (after being acquired by Microsoft) offer a way to do so. App Center combines several of the other solutions listed here and is cross-device and cross-platform.
  9. Automated Testing: testers will ultimately seek out a framework that enables them to test UI and function, both rapidly and repeatedly. Appium, Protractor and others allow these testing scripts to be run on  real mobile devices. Automated testing on mobile has its own challenges and ROI. There are also cases where this will not work.
  10. UI, UX and User tolerance: these 3 are interconnected facets of the same issue. Ultimately users have a lower tolerance for poor UI or UX and are willing to remove an app that displeases them. Android and IOS have best practises for design and UI frameworks of their own. E.g. Material Design on Android OS. Testers should be aware of the design standards, what are acceptance criteria and be able to identify UI / UX bugs that can compromise the quality of the mobile app.
  11. Reverse compatibility: As mobile OS versions advance with time certain features, SDKs or APIs become deprecated and or out-of-date. Features and functionality that worked in previous versions may then stop working due to these changes. One example was the way IOS handled webview in Native apps; after IOS9 this changed (due to a major overhaul to remove serious bugs). Some developers and companies reduce this overhead by supporting only those OS versions after such a change, others only support the latest version of the OS.
  12. Non-functional testing: mobile apps live and die on their scalability, app performance and transparency if they function on low-spec mobile devices. This type of testing should play a critical part in optimal mobile testing to prevent nasty surprises when your app goes to production.

Mobile testing - infographic

The Warptest POV

Mobile testing shares as much as it doesn’t to other platforms we test on. The biggest issue is perhaps how rapidly the mobile landscape changes. As processors, GPUs shrink and battery life grows, screens lose their bezel, handsets lose earphone jacks or data / charging cables change their connectors. Meanwhile, wireless charging is becoming mainstream and of course camera resolution increase. Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality impact the capabilities, functionalities and spec of mobile devices.

Mobile testing has to evolve as rapidly as the devices we test on.

This post is a sampler or taste-test. The solutions listed are not exclusive, each exist in a competitive ecosystem which mobile testers need to be continually learning about. Some solutions are offered by Apple and Google, others by 3rd parties or Microsoft. Hopefully this is a starting point that wets your appetite for exploration. I’m always happy to hear from you about alternatives and learn something new.

Some of what I have written about will get their own, more detailed posts or Vlogs so keep watching this space.

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?

Chromebook will run Android Apps. That’s right.

Chromebook will be able to connect to the Google Play Store and install Android Apps. This was big news on the Google Chromebooks blog on May 16th 2016 and then we didn’t really hear about it again until CES 2017 last month.

The news at CES was about specific Chromebooks supporting this feature: the Samsung Chromebook Plus / Pro & the Asus Chromebook Flip to name two.

Chromebook getting Android Apps - First News

Not All Chromebooks are created Equally

CES showed us that if you are thinking of buying a Chromebook, and you have an Android phone, then you are going to want to examine carefully which of the new Chromebooks are going to support this feature. (I find it hard to imagine an iPhone owner with a Chromebook but stranger things have happened).

Furthermore, this might not be an out-of-the-box feature; according to the official pages of the Chromium project only 3 Chromebooks currently support this (although there is a list of those which will support it in the future, sort of an Ikea “coming soon” ticket).

To get the feature, your Chromebook may need to work in Developer mode. After testing this on a brand-new Lenovo (intel inside) Chromebook, I could enable this thru Developer Mode and access the Google Play Store once but since reboot I have not been able to replicate the scenario. Since then, I discovered this how-to from Google which means retesting this.

Chromebook - Android App Play Store

The Warptest POV

This is a bold and sensible move by Google. Running Android apps on Chromebook is going to make for an interesting and more competitive market. Android phone owners are finally going to have one more reason to make their main productivity device a Chromebook.

Will Android apps run in virtual machine or emulator like Google’s Arc Welder? If not, then Android apps are going need to look and act different from a floating phone / tablet app on a laptop screen. This implies that the next major release of Android Studio will allow Developers to build one app for both platforms with responsive UI. For now, the instructions on optimizing your Android apps are here.

Sound familiar? It should because this is the foundation of Microsoft’s UWP. The Universal Windows Platform has allowed Microsoft Developers to build once and deploy across device types. Admittedly the Microsoft suite of devices is more diverse but this has been a pivotal part of their success.

Chromebook - Android Apps sounds like UWP

Is this another knock Google for copying Microsoft post? No. A recurring theme in this blog is that competition stimulates innovation and emulating ideas is at worst a homage. Why reinvent the wheel?

Can Google emulate this success? Will this push greater Chromebook adoption amongst Android phone owners?

Will Android developers see the value of investing in building “Universal” Android Apps or not? What do you think?

Android Infuriation & The Google Play Store

I got Android Infuriation recently after testing a new app. After uploading it to the Google Play Store and getting approval I let our Support know they could prepare tablets for a group of end users to try. They called me back telling me about a third of the tablets, all the same model & Android version, were displaying this error, “Device is not suitable for the application”.

Android Infuriation - Nougat

ISSUE: When installing to Android from the Google Play Store there is a bug with devices that may be the same model and OS version as another device you just installed on.

Android Infuriation - Play Store

WORKAROUND:


1 Change the device language from settings.
If this does not resolve the issue then:
2 Settings > applications > all applications: clean cache for Google Play Services & Google Play Store
3 Open the browser on the device and try downloading the app from https://play.google.com/apps (My Apps)
3 If this reports that the application will be installed soon then go back to the Play Store application and check there under My Apps
If not then in the browser go to https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and allow it to locate the device then retry step 3 from the beginning
4 Go back to settings > language and return it to your original UI language.

You should be smiling right about now.

The Warptest POV

This is the sort of infuriating bug that can lead to an overfull swear-jar or worse still, packing it all in for an iPhone.


About the only thing worse than this, is when you can’t get your PC to recognize the phone / tablet connected via USB. That’s an Android Infuriation fix for another time. Here’s a link to an earlier one that was a tough nut to crack too.

Feel free to drop me a line in the comments with any other tech problems you need help with.

Microsoft Clip Layer Is The Latest Garage App…

Clip Layer is a great Android app from the Microsoft Garage, Redmond’s worldwide experimental projects lab that delivers a slew of interesting apps and resources.

Microsoft Garage - Clip Layer

The Garage is all part of Microsoft’s cross-platform leadership strategy, delivery apps to all mobile platforms. Clip Layer is one of these apps.

Why would Microsoft do this other than the reasons laid out in the link above?

Consider that Microsoft allegedly $5 to $15 on every Android device sold and

approximately $2 billion a year on patent royalties.

Nuff said?

What Problem Does Clip Layer Solve?

Android allows app developers a highly granular approach to in-app permissions. In this case the developer can disable select-copy-paste even at web view level. Along comes the app user and sees a vital piece of information and bang! No way to easily copy from the app and paste elsewhere. At best the user can take a screenshot but a graphic is not text.

Clip Layer allows the user to grab, clip and copy any text from any app, even when blocked. If the app is running, then just hit the home button to ignore those app permissions and copy that much-needed information.

A simple and elegant solution.

The Warptest POV

I hear those screams of outrage:

  • How dare Microsoft run roughshod over the app permissions set by other developers?
  • Worse, how is Google allowing Microsoft to get away with this kind of crap?

On the one hand, you’re right. At least until you are that user who wants to copy something and is blocked. On the other, Android allows developers a lot of freedom including geo-blocking apps which doesn’t stop users from changing their location to access the app (Microsoft has been known to geo-block their apps too).

I searched for specific criteria in Play Store Acceptance criteria officially making Microsoft the bad guy for circumventing copy blocking but, didn’t find it. Most people using this app won’t have nefarious intent, just a desire to share information. Why would you block that and why would you want to annoy your app users that way?

So, Android users take Clip Layer for a spin and see how it helps you. A modest award for the most creative use shared in the comments. Game on!

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard …

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard has arrived and today I unboxed it and took it for a test drive. It retails for $99 on the Microsoft US Store, uses Bluetooth and can pair with two devices on iOS, Android or Windows devices.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - dimensions

The link above also had updated drivers for connecting the keyboard to Windows 10 (32 and 64 bit).

Unboxing…

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is all about a perfect marriage of design and function and this starts with the box. Gone are the days of excessive boxing. Microsoft has designed the box with a Surface ethos, the box and the keyboard close magnetically.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box closed

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box open

Once opened, the instructions are on the inside face. Ikea et al, see these instructions and learn. One day all instructions will be this way.

The keyboard works simply and elegantly, open is on and closed is off. It’s light, portable and the tactile response of the keys is as good as the keyboard on a Lenovo Yoga or Asus laptop. Folded it’s probably slimmer than the wallet in your pocket.

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The Warptest POV

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is elegant in its design, sturdy yet sleek. It’s made for one thing and one thing only, for the road warriors, those urban commuters for whom space is a premium when travelling but those who need a physical keyboard.

Every single person who tried this today fell in love with it on first touch. I have thick fingers and so my concern was obviously this wasn’t going to work for me. I may never be a violinist with my hands but I can make this keyboard sing.

One of my testing team took the phone in the photos above, my Lumia 820 and walked thru our offices while I typed all the way to the front door of our offices, about 35 to 40 meters and was amazed to report my typing kept coming thru. Now I doubt I’ll ever need a use case like that but it was impressive.

If you need a portable keyboard, then the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is the one for you. Of course, no kickstand on your iPad, Android, or other device. You’ll need more than two hands or some kind of MacGyver solution.

 

This ad has nothing to do with this post but hey, kickstands.

I’ll be doing a follow-up when the Lumia 950XL arrives with its kickstand case.

So if the plane, train or bus is how you get from A to B and you need to just keep on typing, then go checkout the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard and let me know what YOU think.

Microsoft Cross Platform …

3 Words that didn’t necessarily come together in past years and yet over the last couple of years, the dominant player in all things cross platform has been Microsoft.

Windows Phone Microsoft Apps
Google Play Store (Android) Microsoft Apps
Apple iOS Microsoft Apps

Microsoft had already become a major app developer for iOS and Android, not just on Windows Phone. Since then Skype, the full Office suite (including Outlook) has landed on both platforms, OneNote, Bing search, OneDrive and others, and today Microsoft announced two more high-impact cross-platform apps: –

  1. Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant (already on Windows Phone and soon to be on Windows 10) will arrive on Android and iOS later this year.
  2. Windows 10 will come with the Phone Companion App which will allow your smartphone (iOS, Android or Windows Phone) to work seamlessly with Windows 10.

The various reports explain that Cortana will not have the full feature set available on Windows Phone for now.

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Are Microsoft Giving Away The Farm?

Some Microsoft users are acting shocked over the apparent desire at Redmond to take all that is unique on Windows Phone, Office, Windows or Visual Studio and deliver it wrapped in a pretty bow onto iOS and Android.

There is a feeling that any of the added value (especially) that Windows Phone had with Cortana et al is drastically diminished.

Firstly, everything that is happening is in keeping with Microsoft’s mission statement and ambitions. I was writing about this predicted trend back in 2012/13 here and here. In fact some might state that this agenda prompted Cyanogen to actively embrace Microsoft services on their already unique Android.

No one should be surprised about Microsoft making these moves to be a strong presence on every layer of consumer and business technology: frontend (Web, Mobile and Desktop), Productivity, Cloud Storage and Apps (OneDrive and Azure).

Now factor in a word that keeps cropping up on this blog ecosystem: Microsoft Cross Platform is about creating an ecosystem that is not limited by platform, device or Operating System.

The Warptest POV

Nutshell, I’m strongly in favor of this philosophy. As a testing professional, cross platform can be a nightmare to support. More browsers, more operating systems and versions can make for endless test cycles but looking beyond testing, Microsoft is competing across the board by building this ecosystem.

Apple continues with their gated community philosophy and Google continues to compete by restricting their services and apps from Microsoft consumers wherever possible. Microsoft has become a champion of Open Source with .Net, plans Universal Apps for Windows 10 ported from iOS and Android.

The real added value of Cortana on iOS and Android is not just the presence of Microsoft search, service or app on those devices: the Microsoft Band, Redmond’s smartwatch is the only fully cross platform device of its kind on the market and with Cortana integration this makes it a more attractive option for consumers looking for a smartwatch with apps, “AI” and phone integration.

Microsoft BUILD conference also paid strong attention to the anticipated stronger integration between Cortana and apps. It seems that Microsoft Cross Platform is about total coverage.

So to the people feeling like Microsoft gave away the farm, I suggest that someone in Redmond’s strategic business department is an avid reader of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

What do you think?

Windows Phone Had A Big Splash At BUILD 2015…

…As mentioned in my previous post, Microsoft blew the crowd at BUILD2105 away by announcing that the Universal App concept would include bringing iOS and Android apps aboard Windows Phone.

Many speculators on the subject had feared the worst that Microsoft would opt for a kludge solution: running an Android emulator or VM even to allow native Android apps to run on Windows Phone.

Instead Microsoft included iOS and Android apps by allowing Developers to recompile their code as Universal apps, on all Windows 10 devices.

Means, Motive and Opportunity…

How is Microsoft planning to do this?

Windows Phone as part of Universal Windows Platform

The Universal Windows Platform layout with thanks to Microsoft Blogs

Microsoft’s vision for Windows 10 across devices allows iOS and Android apps in through Project Astoria (Java/C++) and Project Islandwood (Objective C/C++); these are the Universal Windows Platform Bridge toolkits for reusing existing codes from these mobile platforms with small code changes.

Islandwood already has a signup for interested Developers and cites importing XCode into Visual Studio whilst Astoria mentions publishing and earning via the Windows Store.

This is a much more elegant solution than the other option but, where does it leave the existing, dedicated Windows Developers, especially those working with the Windows Phone SDK?

Whilst the graphic (top left) shows that development on Windows Platform of Universal apps (Windows 8, 10 and even classic 32 bit apps) persists one has to think about this strategy.

Windows Phone and Windows 8 suffered from certain big ticket apps either not investing in the platform or deciding not to maintain their Windows Phone versions. Microsoft would annually announce deals made to bring some of these apps onto Windows Phone but Smartphone platforms live or die based on app parity.

It is a hard sell for teens to adopt Windows Phone with apps like Snapchat who not only refuse to develop a Windows Phone app but actively and aggressively block 3rd party apps. That said, over the last months whilst several apps (e.g. some US Banks apps) were pulled from the Windows Store there had been some very interesting apps released. One example is the Marc Cuban funded Cyberdust a Snapchat killer that released supporting iOS, Android and Windows Phone. IMHO this was a startup getting it right and I know of several others who are moving to Windows Phone in fields like social video chat, livestreaming and others.

The truth is that the app parity situation is not as cut and dried as many would have us believe.

In addition, Microsoft have opted for three major strategies of late:

  1. The Microsoft Lumia phones released have been designed to target lower pricetags. There has been no talk of a high-end flagship Windows Phone of late. This seems to be a strategy designed to flood the market with a greater number of low end devices.
  2. Much of the unique value proposition of Windows Phone was in Cortana and Office on mobile. Office is already fully cross-platform and Cortana seems to be heading for Android if not iOS too.
  3. Microsoft has leveraged itself as a major app developer for iOS and Android, and not just Windows Phone; in some cases these are apps not yet developed for Windows Phone e.g. Office Delve and PowerBI Mobile.

You can compare for yourself: –

Microsoft apps on Windows Phone

Microsoft apps on Android

Microsoft apps on iOS

The picture is a confusing one and it leads one to wonder what Windows Phone developers took away from BUILD2015.

The Warptest POV

After speaking to several Windows Phone Developers there are those who feel disgruntled after their strong commitment to development in Windows Phone SDK. They don’t necessarily see the ROI of continuing to work with the SDK when they can just write Android or iOS apps and then recompile them as Universal Apps. In a nutshell they stuck with Microsoft through the challenging times of Windows 8 and now one of them told me he felt “thrown under the bus for the greater good…”

The truth is that Microsoft needs to keep the faith with its existing Developer community as much as it needs to entice users with apps that are on iOS and Android (and their developers) but the question is how?

The challenge is not just marketing to individual developers but StartUps and Enterprise companies with apps too. These apps won’t just need recompiling but maintaining after the fact.

Terry Myerson of Microsoft discusses some of the challenges here but it takes one of the biggest Windows Phone developers, Rudy Huyn on his blog to explain why Windows Phone Devs shouldn’t feel that the ground has shifted under them.

In a nutshell, Project Astoria and Islandwood are not seamless and many of the APIs used in iOS and Android will need serious effort to work on Windows Phone. This is only the beginning of the journey and if anything, Windows Phone Developers just became a much more valuable asset in getting this done and as Huyn states, Developers are no longer Windows Phone Devs.. they are Windows Devs.

Ultimately, In the Game of Phones who is winning and who is losing? Users will benefit and so will the Developers and the App creators: Startups, individuals or Enterprise will end up with Universal Apps across a complete ecosystem.

The one factor unmentioned is what Tim Cook and Larry Page feel about this development?

Especially the notoriously draconian Apple and Google who doesn’t miss a chance to continue feuding with Microsoft (more often than not) when it comes to mobile.

So between all this and the fact that Windows Continuum for Phones will require new hardware, we can expect more new apps and almost certainly new, high-end Windows Phones from Microsoft.

In the Game of Phones nothing ever rests and Microsoft may have just won the crown if they invest in their Dev Community building and evangelism even more. Now, it’s time to do the same for the consumers to show why Windows Phone is worthy of them.

 

 

iOS vs Android Isn’t Just About Devices…

The fight for market share plus the hearts and minds of users is often decided by a singular, killer feature.

According to the outstanding Hillel Fuld in a post on this subject, one such deciding factor is the absence of any decent Notification Center on Android.

Allegedly this is resolved with Android Lollipop that takes leaps and bounds to solve this, especially through the Lock Screen.

Android Competitive Edge - Lollipop 5.0

The Story So Far…

To get to your messages, calendar and so on took more effort on Android than the Lock Screen access that iOS provides.

After spending time testing on both iOS and Android devices I can agree that in a one-click vs multi-click slap down, the one-click will win every time. This basically meant a loss of the Android competitive advantage to iOS from the first look you get at your screen.

Thus far, none of the Android devices I have access to update to Android Lollipop so I can’t attest to whether Google’s solution delivers.

Since writing this I have had a chance to go hands-on with Android Lollipop and to attempt to help a couple of users with issues they encountered after the upgrade. I was hard pressed to find the settings for said lock screen and several other features and they seemed to lack any granularity. In a nutshell the user was unable to configure certain features to suit their needs.

The Warptest POV

If you don’t want to wait for Lollipop, fear your device may not get it any time soon or simply don’t want to upgrade there is hope.

The answer to Apple’s competitive edge over Android ironically comes from Microsoft.

Yes you don’t need to check your eyes, Microsoft is indeed a big producer of Apps in the Google Play Store:

Android Competitive Edge - Microsoft Apps

In this case Microsoft (specifically the Microsoft Garage) created Next Lock Screen which offers you a highly configurable Lock Screen including access front and center to messages, calendar, email and calls; all this and more.

After taking it for a test ride the only question I have is, “What the heck were you thinking Microsoft, NOT releasing this for Windows Phone too?

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Yes it’s that good. So Google, start thinking nice things about those clever folks at Redmond for giving you back the Android competitive advantage, especially for non-Lollipop users.

I’m giving Next Lock Screen a strong recommendation but don’t take my word for it, check it for yourself and decide.

Frankly, if you are an Android phone owner, I would be looking at all the apps Microsoft has to offer you. Yes, they’re that good.

 

 

 

Microsoft Universal Apps…

… The concept of one app developed and working cross-platform: phone, tablet, desktop is something of a Holy Grail and Microsoft delivered on this promise last year.

With Microsoft Universal Apps a Windows Phone user is able to install the same app on their Windows 8 laptop / desktop.

Not all apps have released Universal App versions yet but many have.

Microsoft Universal Apps - Skype for Windows Phone

Microsoft Universal Apps - Windows 8 Store

Note the Universal App symbols for Skype and eBay in both screen captures.

Was this Just An Iteration?

When you are Agile you start to see iterations in everything but last week Microsoft released major news at the Connect (): event which made me think Redmond has a firm grasp of Agile process.

 

Microsoft Universal Apps - News Summary

Yes those are the faces of amazement because besides the obvious fact that Microsoft made its flagship core technology Open Source cross-platform and allowed non-commercial users to develop for free, Visual Studio just iterated into a platform you can develop apps for Android and iOS on.

In one flavor or another Visual Studio supports development for just about all the main platforms mobile, desktop and server.

The Warptest POV

If you are still singing the “Microsoft is doomed” song I suggest you go sit in the corner with your blankie and suck your thumb because that’s about as serious as anyone is going to take you now.

This is the biggest news in the development arena I can think of in recent years and in doing so Microsoft Universal Apps iterated outwards, fulfilling their potential.

Universal App no longer just means an App for all Windows devices, it may just mean an App that is truly universal. An App built across all devices and Operating Systems and developed in Visual Studio to boot. This could be the end of the Developers Grail Quest …

 

Microsoft Universal Apps - the holy grail

Microsoft Universal Apps - Visual Studio

The hard decision that many Start-ups have to make about which platform to develop for first seemingly just vanished in a puff of smoke.

So if this news excites you (and it should) then you can find the .NET Core 5 code here on Github that’s right, Microsoft really gets it, they are using Github for this.

So if you are a developer get excited and get cracking because the news here only scratches the surface.

 

Of The Several Windows Phone Conversations I Had Recently…

… The conversations ran the gamut of “Windows Phone has no apps…” to even “Microsoft doesn’t make a smartphone, come on”.

The phrase that best applies after demonstrating the phone and apps was suspension of disbelief.

Windows Phone - Morpheus

With this in mind I decided to list these apps here, you might recognize a few of them from iOS and Android too…

Yes, these apps are on Windows Phone too…

My constraints on this task were: –

  • Look primarily at branded apps i.e. apps created by the same company or brand.
  • List MIA apps or those still not on Windows Phone
  • Give special attention to noteworthy App developers who create 3rd Party versions of popular Apps.

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SPECIAL MENTION

Developer Rudy Huyn is responsible for bringing fantastic 3rd party implementations of many popular apps to Windows Phone ahead of the app itself arriving:

 Windows Phone - Rudy Huyn Apps

MIA

Zula App: the incredible collaboration / productivity app is rumored to be coming to Windows Phone.

AirBnB

Dropbox

Buffer: given the quality of 3rd part apps available to Windows Phone users, Buffer seems in no hurry to deliver their own app.

Instagram Hyperlapse

Google+ and other Google web services but special mention goes to the YouTube App for being a case study in how not to do things.

Get Taxi: they really need to play catchup with Uber who DO have a Windows Phone app.

Snapchat & Secret… well maybe we’re just fine without.

The Warptest POV

In a nutshell, there is much more to Windows Phone than meets the eye and not just the UI.

Windows Phone gets a strong Warptest recommendation as more OEMs are launching Windows Phones for all budgets, use cases but also for app parity.

So get out there and try Windows Phone for yourself and let me know what you discover….

Yo A New Mobile App Is Making Waves…

The app is elegant in its simplicity, you pick a person from the app and they receive a Yo.

The big news is that Yo apparently has received $1.2 million in investment for this and many of the newspapers, tech bloggers and public have unleashed a Snarknado online and in print against the app.

Yo - Snarknado

Why you no like this app?

This is just a small sample of the comments and reviews that Yo is getting online:

Yo - Comments

The app seems simple and has left people puzzled about the buzz behind a one-shot app; both about the absence of features and how they secured funding.

Perhaps the most favorable coverage comes from Techcrunch who seem to have a more open minded grasp of the potential behind Yo.

Many of the people I’ve been reading who have taken issue with Yo and its funding are serious Startup entrepreneurs who sweat blood and tears to secure investment for amazing products and seem quite fairly frustrated at an event that could have negative ramifications for future funding.

The Warptest POV

What does Yo really do? I pondered this over a double espresso this morning. Should I be taking this app at face value?

Yo screengrab from Google Play Store

Yo - screengrab

When all else fails I look at the psychology and at the people involved.

What does Yo really do? It provides a solution to the signal : noise ratio in our existing digital modes of communication. Just getting someone’s attention to begin one on one engagement via email, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp etc is a challenge of monumental proportion. Assuming that Yo is adopted by many more people then this might be the use case.

It’s worth considering that in a world where the buzzwords of Lean Startup and Agile Methodology are so popular, Yo has managed to out-Lean and out-Agile everyone else. With Facebook Messenger and Foursquare’s Swarm just two examples of the new trend of splitting features into standalone apps, has this app delivered a first iteration based on this model?

If you consider that and then look at the people, one of the investment players is allegedly the CEO of Mobli, a company whose product is a cross-device, social platform for photo and video sharing.

Is it going to somehow tie into Mobli and offer users the ability to send a Yo to a friend and then share or exchange photo or video from Mobli as another one of these “feature as a standalone apps”?

Only time will tell but whether you are an early adopter of Yo or not, I would be keeping a close eye on the app to see if it is a fad or an app with much greater potential.

Oh, and Yo if you are reading this where is the Windows Phone love? You certainly have the investment to make this happen now, right?

UPDATE

Since this post Yo moved rapidly to release the Windows Phone version of the app and apparently an API and a Hackathon.

21/07/2014: Earlier today I got a tweet from a good friend suggesting I add an update to this post regarding current events.

A couple of weeks ago as the rain of missiles out of Gaza intensified over the South of Israel and spread northwards to threaten and encompass almost 2/3rds of the country, a pair of talented developers, Ari Sprung and Kobi Snir built on Yo to provide smartphone users everywhere (and not just Israel) the chance to receive Red Alerts of missiles launched at their cities. This provided an early warning to allow the 15 to 90 seconds (depending on distance from the launch site) to get to a bomb shelter or other safe cover but also exposed the frequency and geography of the situation to those outside Israel who chose to use this.

The story was picked up by ABC.

On a personal note, my hat is off to the pair of developers for using their imagination and skill to leverage an app many dismissed as frivolous into a public safety application. Well played guys.

It seems that as the founders of Yo say, it is about the context. New use cases are about your context and imagination.