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All posts tagged Mobile Apps

Web Accessibility is Law in Israel…

We heard a talk about Israel Web Accessibility law at WordCamp Jerusalem 2016, several days ago. To begin with, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV so I’m not going to cite the law nor should you interpret the opinions you read here as an acceptance of liability or that I am claiming any legal knowledge. I’m not. What I am sharing is the food for thought I came away with.

The law is interesting and of course, web accessibility is important if not crucial. However, the ramifications of the law are almost as relevant.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - Dammit Jim

The following points came across during the presentation:

  • This law has been in effect since 2013.
  • The law enables a complainant to sue for damages in a case where a site does not meet the standards required by law for accessibility.
  • Other countries have web accessibility standards but none makes this a legal requirement involving liability.
  • It applies allegedly to sites that provide “information to the public”.
  • No litigation case has appeared in Israeli courts since the law’s inception.
  • Public sector sites have an extension until 2018 to become web accessible.

CUI BONO?

This is certainly an opportunity for any skilled, knowledgeable professional to provide web accessibility compliance or testing services, so long as they are not risk adverse. One of the concerns voiced during the presentation at WordCamp was that liability can include not just the site itself, the theme the site builder recommends or customizations, but also content subsequently posted to the site.

The government and the public sector as a whole are benefitting from the extension they granted themselves until 2018 for their sites to become compliant. In Israel most IT services in the public sector are provided by outsourcing companies who compete for tenders. One can assume that if the public sector has not already begun issuing these tenders to make their sites accessible, it will wake up to the need for this shortly. The outsourcing companies are big enough to acquire the knowledge and handle the liability issues. Web accessibility, an opportunity for them.

The WARPTEST POV

The presentation at WordCamp highlighted the sense among attendees that the government had done what it does best: imprinted existing physical world standards on the digital domain. Technology professionals often feel that legislators pass laws without a full comprehension of the tech or the impact. There weren’t a lot of smiling faces about all this:

Again, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Web accessibility is important and this is where I part ways with the lawyer who gave the WordCamp presentation.

IMHO if the government is legislating web accessibility in much the way they do with car licensing, then why shouldn’t the government be obligated to provide a standard automated testing tool for site builders to verify compliance to standards. This would be akin to the test center you take your car to prior to annual licensing.

The really interesting thing is that this law doesn’t just apply to web sites. Compliance to accessibility also applies to mobile apps. One might assume that should this become a burning issue, Google, Apple and Microsoft will all have a dog in this fight.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - app stores

Many people came away from the presentation feeling that the government went too far. This opens up huge opportunities for the litigious and turns site building and content writing into something as risky as feeding crocodiles.

A law that has been around since 2013 and has not generated one court case leaves questions. Are sites more web accessible since the law was passed? I believe not. Has the law ensured that those who need web accessibility are receiving it? I’m unconvinced that the law changed that for the better either.

Nutshell, there are opportunities here for the bold and the knowledgeable. WordPress Theme creators, mobile app developers and QA are just a few. If we are willing to accept the risk of providing web accessibility compliance services then this is a niche waiting to be filled.

Which do you see, the risk or the opportunity?

Mobile App Testing…

Isn’t just nice to have, isn’t something you can tack on late in the day; it’s a mission critical task that will ensure whether your app soars to success or flies too close to the Sun.

Mobile App Testing - Soar

Make your Mobile App Soar Like A Rocket!

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Pictures.

The idea of, “We’ll let the users find the bugs for us.” Isn’t just flawed or disrespectful of your users, it’s asking for your App to receive catastrophic reviews.

Why is this a bigger deal with Mobile App Testing than Desktop, Client-Server or Web Applications?

The Nature of the Beast

Given that Mobile Apps range from free to cheap, that most are small and fast to download or install and that many apps have alternatives, the emotional investment is a lot less than purchasing or installing a desktop App. In a nutshell, it’s that easy to uninstall and move on too.

Do you really want your App to inspire this response?

Khaaaaaan!

Frustration, infuriation or anger; are those really the emotions you want associated with your Mobile App? These are a short list of deadly sins you had better find during testing: –

Mobile App Testing - Deadly Sins

The Warptest POV

The list above is based (mostly) on real world examples, mistakes that Mobile App Testing didn’t catch and the Startups had to make some serious apologies over.

Which Mobile Apps have you uninstalled for being guilty of one or more of these?

If you believe it’s better to test first and prevent these kinds of bugs but don’t have Mobile App Testing setup then get in touch ASAP.

Microsoft Ventures Invests In Zula…

Zula, the mobile productivity app. Zula is the combined brainchild of Jeff Pulver and Jacob Ner-David; a solution to the challenge of mobile team communication.

Zula - snapshot of landing page

Zula recently announced the launch of their Android App adding to their existing iOS App.

Can’t We Just Use Email Like Everyone Else?

Email as a team communication solution for productive work is as effective as using one of the existing IM Apps out there.

Even with filters, flags or rules (depending on which email system you are using) emails get lost in the herd. Following threads can be a challenge at the best of times and the ability to find a specific piece of information after the fact can reduce a grown man to tears.

Not using Zula - cartoon

Add to that the tendency of workers to often send attachments and not take full advantage of linking to shared documents / media in the cloud and email is just so pre-Y2K.

Throw Mobile into the Mix

Microsoft Ventures makes a strong point in their press release that Zula are meeting the challenges of mobile productivity with their App. In the past, in fact back in February 2012 I’d made some pointed suggestions about Skype here on Warptest in the hope that Microsoft was on my wavelength.

Things are still happening on that front (albeit slowly), meanwhile Microsoft announced in June 2012 the acquisition of Yammer tagged as the Enterprise Social Network.

Microsoft Yammer Infographic - not Zula

Image cropped from infographic courtesy of Microsoft News

One of the speculations for the $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer by Microsoft was as a foil to Google+. The expectation was that Google+ with Google Apps / Drive and hangouts would become the primary collaborative environment for companies using Google Apps.

Meanwhile Yammer is moving towards full integration with Office365, Sharepoint and Microsoft Dynamics but more importantly has mobile applications for Android, iOS and of course Windows Phone.

The Big Question

So why would Microsoft Ventures invest in Zula, which seems to be a clear competitor for Yammer?

Yammer - Not Zula

The Warptest POV

Putting aside the fact that Google seems asleep at the wheel with selling Google+ as the central hub for collaborative, real-time productivity, it’s important to keep in mind that: –

  1. Whilst Yammer has mobile apps for the platform is it really a mobile-centric or scalable solution? Developing a mobile App for a desktop solution is not the same as creating a mobile-centric solution and if you are going to invest in that then it pays to find the right people to invest in too.
  2. Yammer touts itself as Enterprise that’s all well and good but a solution for smaller companies, offshore and ad hoc projects make sense too. Zula is filling a niche that Yammer didn’t focus on.
  3. The backend: I’ve mentioned before that it’s my belief that Microsoft sees the value in making backend sales as an entry point into company purchasing. As Zula scales with greater numbers of users what will the backend be for its Android and iOS Apps?

IMHO well played Microsoft Ventures for not missing a product or team with huge potential and congratulations to Zula for getting that investment.

So the only question I have right now is,

When do we see the Windows Phone version of Zula? I know I would love to take it for a spin.

If you haven’t tried Zula yet and want to, the links to the two app stores are here.

Twitter logo

Twitter Goes All Medieval on the Tweetdeck Product Line

Last week Twitter, the owners of Tweetdeck posted on their blog about the discontinuation of several versions of Tweetdeck.

The thrust of the article is that old technology is going the way of the dinosaur and the focus is going to be on better web experience.

What Got Deadpooled?

Deadpool from Marvel Comics

In a nutshell these four things will cease functioning by May:

  • Tweetdeck Air for Desktop
  • Tweetdeck for Android
  • Tweetdeck for iPhone
  • Support for Facebook integration

Keep in mind that this still leaves us with Tweetdeck in the browser, Desktop and or the Chrome app.

When I started using Twitter seriously I got into Tweetdeck Air and other than certain bugs that seemed to regress every few versions I loved it. This was just about the only app I needed Adobe Air for but it was worth it. With a standalone Windows Client it was time for the Air version to go.

Adobe Air

Tweetdeck Desktop on Windows 7 is an awesomely good Twitter client but in Windows 8 I experienced a consistent resource leak leading to hangs / freezes / crashes.

Windows 8

Windows 8 has MetroTwit which was a great alternative to Tweetdeck but the Metro / New Windows UI version doesn’t entirely do it for me. I like having 8 or more of my Twitter lists open so Tweetdeck Web in Internet Explorer 10 was my next choice. (MetroTwit if you are reading this and I’m mistaken please comment on how to add extra columns, I couldn’t find it).

Warptest POV

It’s not all bad news.

Twitter is streamlining their product line and whilst dropping support for Facebook integration is at face value a loss of major functionality, why should they support a competitor platform for content distribution? At the end of the day fewer products to support should mean more investment in new features and better quality. Hopefully Twitter will get their act together and provide a robust and consistent user experience regardless of mobile platform.

With that in mind, Twitter finally released an updated Windows Phone App whose UI is in line with the designs of the Android and iOS Twitter Apps (the minor UI difference in iOS is the menu-bar is below not above the tweets).

 comparison of twitter cross-platform

After testing it I discovered that: –

  • The new Twitter UI on Windows Phone looks gorgeous and works nicely with slide enabled between major screens.
  • Finally, finally, finally Twitter on Windows Phone gets reply all. This was the single most frustrating missing feature. Well done.
  • There is a known issue with Twitter Live Tile; it doesn’t seem to work unless notifications are enabled and the counter only goes up to 1. Lame.
  • Twitter cannot find my location even when other apps can (including Rowi… see below). Worse still, trending topics detects my location incorrectly and so I get topics in Turkish, thanks but no thanks.
  • Twitter on Windows Phone did not get photo filters as in the Android version.

The main competitor to Twitter on Windows Phone is Rowi with a Lite (free but ad laden version) and a Pay (ad free version). Rowi has a slew of nice features and for as long as I’ve been using it has reply all and uses Aviary photo filters. Rowi has long been considered the best Twitter App on Windows Phone.

rowi twitter app

The basic functionality of Twitter on Windows Phone has caught up with Rowi and the sleek UI makes it tempting but the presence of bugs that QA should have caught and the absence of photo filters detracts from the whole package.

So come on Twitter, fix these bugs and give us some photo filter love. You still have some work to do before users get the same experience regardless of mobile platform.