When creating Android apps, your final product isn't necessarily predictable across the hundreds of different Android models. Your app can run into hardware issues like memory size, and sometimes you'll find that certain hardware API's that only work on newer devices. Also, some devices have different UI paradigms, while others add their own UI layer on top of the app. This means on some devices your app may have a complete failure to install, it may crash, or the resolution may give your app ridiculous layouts.
One way to ensure consistency is to test out all of your Android apps yourself, requiring plenty of phones and man-hours to install and run the tests manually. Or you could use Helsinki-based Bitbar's suite of Testdroid Android testing applications to automate and quickly run these tests across over 100 devices.
The company has just publicly released a new product called Testdroid Cloud, aimed at both independent developers and large corporations who are looking to provide consistency across apps. The service tests the apps on real Android devices for fully automated device compatibility testing of Android applications. For a quick check of compatibility, the system can run an InstaTest - a basic set of acceptance tests on each device.
For more complex use-case testing, developers can use Testdroid Recorder, a plugin for Eclipse that captures each click on the OS level, which allows users to run automated tests across many devices. Rather than writing the tests manually, Recorder lets you record actions on object level when using the app on the phone. These tests can be uploaded and tested on Testdroid Cloud.
As Jouko Kaasila of Bitbar says, "Smartphones are like servers, so why not run them like a server farm?"
For large companies that would rather run these sorts of automated tests in-house, Bitbar also provides Testdroid Server, which provides the same for companies who would like to run these tests on their own phones. Customers already include names like LinkedIn, Eventbrite, RGA digital, and more.
"We know that Testing Android applicatons for device compatbility on real devices is currently a major pain but we are stll amazed of the high demand for our service." says Marko Kaasila, CEO of Bitbar. "With over 60 000 tests run within the frst 3 months is a strong proof that this kind of service is desperately needed to take the pain away.”
Kaasila agrees with this sentiment and tells us that it's a nice niche that fills an obvious need. Testdroid Cloud is currently free to use, and I get the impression they will try to expand their service aggressively before others enter the market.
The company has also raised a seed round from Seed Fund Vera Ltd and five angels for an undisclosed amount of funding. The angels look like they have a good amount of insight to the mobile world and include:
- Fred Lardieg, Principal at Vodafone Ventures, investor in Vouchercloud, UK, and previously in management positions at Vodafone and SonyEricsson
- Hannu Verkasalo, Senior Vice President, Arbitron Mobile and founder of Zokem, succesfully sold to Arbitron (US) for $24million in Aug/2011
- Petri Lehmuskoski, Partner at Investop, business angel and founder of Toptronics (PC &Console games) , succesfully sold to Pan Vision (Sweden)
- Tuomas Nousiainen, Deputy Managing Director at HiQ Finland, and previously partner at TSG-TestSolutions, successfully sold to HiQ (Sweden)
- Jukka Rautio, Managing Director at HiQ Finland and founder & CEO of TSG-TestSolutions, successfully sold to HiQ (Sweden)