Wednesday, August 12, 2009

iPhone App Testing With iSimulate

The iSimulate iPhone app is interesting in so many ways. If you've read the articles posted about it (here's one from my favorite Apple blog, TUAW: iSimulate brings iPhone apps to the big screen), you probably were impressed by the idea of using your iPhone to control an iPhone app while watching it on a separate display. Playing a game on a large display while controlling it through an iPhone, as if the iPhone is some sort of game controller accessory, is intriguing.

And for the many iPhone app developers that are looking for a way to create marketing material of their app in action, iSimulate is probably just what they've been looking for. Recording your iPhone app in real time on a higher resolution display with actual motion inputs and then being able to later edit the recording has got to be better than the various video cam recordings one finds on YouTube.

Additionally, if you are at all interested in how iPhone apps are priced, the scheme used by the iSimulate folks is worth watching. They started their pricing at $4 and are raising the price every few days by a factor of 2 until it reaches $32. I'd be very interested in knowing the final numbers for the sales before $32!

My real interest in this app is in the area of testing, particularly for reducing the build turns when developing apps that utilize iPhone functionality not available in the SDK simulator, e.g. accelerometer, GPS, etc. With iSimulate, the developer can now do more complete "smoke tests" before handing it off to the test team. Moreover, you can now test for compatibility issues that previously required you to have multiple devices. Here's what the developer says are some of the benefits of using iSimulate along with my comments:
Save More than 80% of the Time Spent in Installing Applications. If you have developed an iPhone app that uses functionality not available in the SDK simulator, then, yes, iSimulate is going to save you all the time required to install your app on provisioned devices just to test what the simulator cannot.

Test Your Applications Across Different iPhone OS Versions. This one really interests me. To be able to at least initially verify that an app runs on different iPhone OS versions is a real time saver over loading the app on different iPhones. I would not consider this a substitute for compatibility testing on actual devices with different iPhone OS versions, but early on in development, this would work fine.

Test Your Location-enabled Applications on the iPhone Simulator Without the Need for a GPS-enabled Device. Imagine the possibilities! For all the "NextBus" apps out there, now you can develop and test apps that reach beyond your physical locale.

Test Your Applications with Different Device IDs. I'm not sure about this one. Maybe one of our readers has a take on how helpful this might be.
To use iSimulate for testing, you need the following:
  • iSimulate client, which runs on iPhones, iPhone 3Gs, and on first and second generation iPod Touches, running firmwares 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 or 2.2.1. It is available on the App Store.
  • iSimulate SDK library, which works with applications built for the iPhone OS versions 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1 and 3.0.
I'm convinced that iSimulate should be a part of any iPhone app tester's tool box. To find out more, visit the Vimov website, or just watch this video:


Ray Vizzone said...

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