At this week's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud are debuting, and they all look astonishing. The new services that Apple is offering are handing developers one enticing possibility after another with their new APIs. The possible apps that can be built on those APIs are amazing, and yet it'll take a lot of work to get from here to there. It's easy to get caught up in how cool the possible apps are and to overlook some of the questions that have to be answered in order to make an app that fully lives up to the promises of the iOS 5 APIs. So in order to help you get from API to all-star app, here are five aspects of an iOS app that should be on your list of things to test.
What happens to your app when the device doesn't speak English?
Most iOS developers right now are native English speakers of one kind or another, but that's not true of iOS users. The iOS family of devices are sold all over the world, and as time goes on, the average user of an iOS device will start looking like an average citizen of the world - which is to say that they'll probably use a language other than English on their device.
What happens to your app when the device is plugged into something other than a laptop or desktop computer?
There are more and more smart appliances in the world that want to interact with iOS devices. This is a rising trend in cars - for example, the Hyundai Equus uses an iPad as a manual. More frequently, though, the car's stereo or mapping controls will be able to connect to an iOS device, sending and receiving data.
What happens to your app when it can't reach the Internet?
A big part of the appeal of iOS devices is their ability to give users access to the Internet at any time. Even in urban areas, though, that access isn?t guaranteed. Plan for times when your app won?t have Internet access, or has it and then suddenly loses it: those times will come.
What happens to your app when it's launched by a user who can't see it?
Although it's not perfect, Apple is justifiably proud of the accessibility features in iOS devices. They?ve provided an excellent toolkit to make sure that it's easy for developers to reach out to users without sight, or with other accessibility needs.
What happens to your app when the system updates?
Apple just announced that future iOS updates will be happening over the air. Previously, iOS developers didn?t have to worry about that scenario - but now they join Android, WebOS, and Blackberry developers in needing to plan for what happens when the device?s capabilities change. The more complex your application is, the more you need to plan for what happens when an OS update comes down from the cloud.
The new possibilities for iOS apps are exciting, and we're all looking forward to seeing the new shape of the iOS ecosystem as apps that take advantage of those possibilities make their way into the App Store.