The Apple Watch has now been with us for a few months, but are new developers taking into consideration software testing before releasing their app? Sales have been lower than what was forecast, but many analysts are pointing out that there is often a slump between the first rush of sales upon a new product’s release and the inevitable boom at Christmas.
Other commentators are predicting that the Apple Watch’s release will soon prompt the appearance of a host of competitors and imitations. It is being claimed that this will mark the beginning of a dramatic overall rise in the number of Smartwatches sold worldwide.
This means that now is a good time to start releasing apps for the new platform. Many large brands, retailers and enterprises have already done so – there are currently Apple Watch apps from British Airways, Nike and BMW in the App Store, among others.
But anyone trying to develop apps for Smartwatches comes up against an immediate problem. Namely, that there are huge differences between wearables and mobile devices that make simply adapting Smartphone apps to Smartwatches impossible.
For example, there is the much smaller screen size of the Apple Watch to contend with. There is also the smaller amount of battery life, which apps will need to avoid draining as much as possible. And, perhaps most importantly, there is the fact that users will undoubtedly interact with devices on their wrists differently to how they interact with devices in their palms.
Developing Smartwatch apps with these differences in mind will require a large amount of creativity and innovation. Some developers have already begun to experiment with the unique features of the Smartwatch, with impressive results.
For example, there is the new Tinder app for the Apple Watch, which uses the watch’s heartbeat monitor to select matches for users. This removes the need for users to swipe left or right, which many may not have wanted to do on a Smartwatch.
But for many developers, working out how to craft software for the new platform will take time and a lot of experimentation. Several attempts may be necessary before a brand or retailer lands on a Smartwatch app that engages and excites their customers.
Any attempt to develop a successful Smartwatch app will fail, however, if that app hasn’t been thoroughly tested prior to being released. Apps’ design may make brilliant use of the Smartwatch platform, but they won’t top the download charts if they don’t function or display correctly.
This means that companies developing wearables apps need to consider how to absorb the Apple Watch, Android Wear, and a host of other Smartwatches into their software testing requirements. Software test teams, whether in-house or outsourced, are often already stretched to capacity by the number of Smartphones and tablets that apps need to be tested on.
In addition, the relative newness of the Smartwatch platform may mean that many teams won’t include software testers that are familiar with how they’re used. A brand or retailer may take the expensive step of purchasing a host of Smartwatches for its test lab, but bugs may be missed if software testers aren’t aware of all the features of those watches.
These two issues – the need to test on Smartwatches as well as multiple mobile devices, and unfamiliarity with the new platform – need to be resolved for brands to have any chance of launching a successful wearables app.
Doing this may not be easy. But whether brands hire more testers, buy testers Apple Watches for everyday use, or partner with Crowdsourced Software Testing companies that can provide broad device coverage and testers familiar with different Smartwatches, thorough testing is vital. Otherwise, experiments on the platform may be undermined before they have a chance to shine.