Testing on Android Target Devices

Motorola Xoom

We all know that it’s important to test the different configurations of your app, but it’s really difficult to get *every* configuration.  The power of Android is its diversity.  However, I just added a powerful new tool to my arsenal when I got a Xoom WiFi.

I expected a similar experience to my Droid, just with the new bells and whistles of Honeycomb (Android 3.x), and of course the larger screen.  That wasn’t what I got.

I was immediately most impressed by the speedy interface and some new UI elements (dubbed the ‘holographic interface’).  Games are more fun to play on a larger screen (when they don’t crash because they haven’t been tested on a tablet – more on that later).  Reading books and documents is nicer.  All-in-all, it’s a very nice toy – and a useful business tool.

Immediate Business Benefit – Testing

However, the first thing I did after connecting up to my WiFi network was to download my first app, Droid Secret Tips.  Oops – immediate force close.

ForceCloseLuckily, I had already fixed the most recent bug that the Android Developer Console had shown me.  Only 2 crash reports had rolled in, so I thought it was a minor bug.  However, after seeing exactly how this crash occurred… now I know what was happening.  Any user who was on WiFi but had no phone network connection would trigger a bug I introduced recently.

That meant that every Wifi-only tablet was locked out of using my app, because it would force close.  That’s right, I just excluded a large chunk of the market accidentally.  I’m in the process of preparing a new release anyway, so this bug is on notice.  Still, I would suggest all of you developers consider the WiFi-only device market in your testing, as I imagine it can only grow as we get more Android devices on the market.

Tablet users have had to face a lot of frustration from developers that didn’t plan for the new types of devices.  Don’t be one of the problem developers – do your best to make your app tablet-proof, even if you don’t optimize for the larger screen and newer OS.

Other self-justifications for owning and Android Tablet

Having witnessed that bug firsthand, I figure I’ve already justified my purchase as a business need, even before you consider being able to check email from the couch or on the go (with greater ease than with my phone).

Beyond that, however, I had a few other expectations that required some work to figure out.  See my previous post about getting video to work and getting files onto the device.

That being said, now that I resolved my frustrations I can recommend the Xoom to anyone needing a tablet.  I can’t say that any other tablets won’t do the same job, but I like this one and think it will get the job done for you.

Even if you’re not going to buy a tablet, keep in mind that Android 3.x tablets are going to change how users use their Android device.  I’m learning a lot just from observing how I use my tablet differently than my phone, and I hope to roll that into a Honeycomb-targeted app at some point soon.  Stay tuned here and sign up to my newsletter (the BrainCast) to hear what I discover for tablet development.

Posted in Android permalink

About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.

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