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right now we only have the Sprint HTC Hero and i feel there is need for a more recent model of android for QA testing our mobile platform so, how do i make the case to management for QA to get a new android for testing the mobile platform?

We have a non-native mobile app on a REST server.

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What is the purpose for testing on Android (i.e. what are you testing)? Do you have a native app? Are you testing for the mobile browser? –  Chris Kenst Oct 20 '11 at 21:06
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5 Answers 5

Don't take this the wrong way, but first make the case to us.

You say you feel there is need for one; could you elaborate on this feeling? Get into specifics, and put them into your question. After all, if you can't convince a room full of people fired up about QA best practices that you need one, you sure as heck won't be able to convince a manager who has to shell out a couple hundred bucks to do it!

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+1, true, if you can't convince a friendly audience a hostile one will eat you up and spit you out –  MichaelF Oct 21 '11 at 17:43
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One way is to look at the past.

Point out cases where you saw differences between android models that were significant enough to require code changes. Thus, you have a strong case for suspecting that newer models might hold similar surprises.

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+1 - and if you can associate a (negative) cost with those differences, compared to the cost of a new handset, it'll give you a stronger argument –  DuncN Oct 21 '11 at 19:27
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You've got a few options here. I'll start with the "big bang" from my perspective and work down.

If you or one of your team owns a recent model android, test your mobile platform with it (preferably off-hours, unless management doesn't object to this), and record any problems you encounter in your normal issue tracking setup. Then repeat those tests on your official environment. The moment you find a problem with the new android system that doesn't exist on the official platform, you have your argument - although making it tactfully helps. Demonstrating the problem and that it doesn't exist on the official environment is one of the most powerful ways to show that you need the newer platform as well.

Another method involves a little research: finding out approximately what the most-used mobile environments are (I suspect exact numbers are a bit hard to find), and where your official environment fits into this. If you have the mobile equivalent of testing your platform in Netscape when the vast majority of users are running IE 7 or better (example pulled from a hat and may not be accurate), you have a problem which could potentially cost large amounts of time - and therefore money.

Basically, you're looking at convincing management that buying this device will be cheaper than fixing problems caused by not having access to the most recent hardware. The closer you can get to "X problems caught in-house will cover the cost of the purchase", the more likely you'll succeed.

And yes, as glowcoder says, convince us you need it as an exercise in getting everything you need to deal with lined up and nailed down.

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You could try showing them this chart:

http://media.theunderstatement.com/016a_android_orphans.png

...which was taken from this page:

http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphans-visualizing-a-sad-history-of-support

Sadly, the Android platform is horribly fragmented, so applications have a disturbingly high chance of working great one one phone yet failing on another. Just look at all of the complaints on the Android Market from people who could not get a popular application to work properly on their particular phone.

Until someone fixes the situation (perhaps by creating a set of accurate virtual machines for each major model of mobile device), developers will have to test their software on multiple devices. Otherwise you'll get stuck with the cost of bug reports, a subset of dissatisfied customers, and 1-star ratings in the Market from people who couldn't get your software to work.

In short, mobile-app developers need multiple test devices, because it saves money. It's almost always much, much cheaper to catch & fix bugs before they go out the door to customers.

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willdye points out valid reasons why testing on the Android can be both cost and labor intensive.

So, due to the diversity of h/w and platform software and the complaints of customers there is reasonable justification to test on more than one Android device and platform.

However, you company/manager is probably looking at this from a business expense perspective. Buying hardware is not cheap, and mobile devices depreciate quickly. So, for app development shops it is rarely cost effective to continually buy new Android devices (or other mobile devices) for testing only.

But you are still left with the burden of testing your app on multiple Android devices. So you can:

  • Use a crowd-sourcing service such as uTest
  • Find a test vendor company that specializes in mobile phone testing (and has invested in multiple devices/platforms)
  • Free sourcing (seek out willing participants on various social networks (twitter, Facebook, etc) who are willing to provide feedback
  • Test on emulators and limited set of devices available and hope for the best
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