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Every developer has had this experience
You get the specs, you burn the midnight oil to get the alpha ready by the deadline, you deliver… and suddenly there’s a whole new set of requirements, not to mention problems on specific devices on specific networks or in specific GPS locations. The result: more coding, more regression testing and plenty of lost time.
The problem isn’t your coding, it’s the process itself
For too long, developers have been working in isolation, with too much input coming in too late. What’s needed is a better process where all the well-known stakeholders – marketing, design, QA and customer support – can join in at the right time.
One way that this could happen is through extended use of emulation. As things stand today, emulation tools are used exclusively by developers – but that could change. If these tools were enhanced with a UX that let stakeholders use them along with developers, the result would be a new collaborative approach to the whole app lifecycle – where stakeholders could provide input at exactly the right time. This would speed the development process, eliminate a lot of frustration and, by the way, substantially reduce coding time and costs.
So what’s the key to moving in this direction?
In a nutshell: quick, uncomplicated access to the app under development by both technical and non-technical people, via their device of choice, with no need to install emulation software.
How stakeholders could chime in
Quality Assurance (QA)
With cloud-based emulation, QA teams can develop and run automated test scripts to find defects in mobile apps. Moreover, QA can easily demonstrate those bugs to developers because developers can reproduce them in real-time by spinning up a virtual device running in the cloud.
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) engineers need to be intimately involved in the development process because they have to ensure that apps meet usability requirements and deliver the best user experience. With a cloud-based emulation platform, the UI/UX team can conduct focus groups with internal and external stakeholders to provide precise feedback to developers on what needs to be changed.
It’s well known that how an app looks on screen has a huge effect on adoption rates. Typography is an important component of this look. For example, if designers could get an early view of how various fonts appeared on various devices, they might want to change from a fixed pixel value per font to a different approach that allowed more flexible resizing for better legibility.
Marketing teams can use a cloud-based emulation platform to see pre-release apps and get a jump on creating marketing materials and programs. They can also demo the apps to media, analysts, or other influencers. Without this kind of platform, they may need help from the development or IT department to demo the latest versions.
The sales department can use an emulation platform to show the most current version of the product to potential customers, even as it develops. Without an emulation platform, sales staff may need to bring along engineers to sales meetings to give demos.
Help desk/customer support staff
Staff can run emulation in near real-time to replicate issues their customers are experiencing in the field and resolve it in the shortest time possible, ensuring customer satisfaction — and happy customers are lifelong customers. This limits revenue loss, reduces support costs, and enables mobile-first companies to get a higher lifetime value from their customers.
Going beyond tech support, with the right technology there’s no reason actual end users couldn’t be included in early feedback loops, rather than waiting until release, when revisions can cost as much as $14,000 to address.
What kind of technology could make all these things happen?
Without getting into technical detail, some general requirements are clear.
Non-technical people are not going to take the time to master a command line interface, nor should they have to. What’s more, these non-technical users shouldn’t be required to install any emulation software in order to view an application as it’s being developed. They need a simple way to access and visualize the builds that’s as easily as clicking a link.
With literally thousands of different device/version combinations on the market, an emulator can’t be limited to a handful of devices.
Stakeholders need to be confident that the emulation they’re seeing accurately represents how the real app looks and acts across various devices, networks and geographical locations.
Each of the abovementioned stakeholders can benefit across the whole mobile application value delivery chain if they are able to collaborate on timely basis.
Good news! We’re working on these problems
The whole Genymotion team is currently developing a new solution that can make agile, iterative development a time- and cost-saving reality.
Be patient! Soon you’ll see what’s next for app development.