Developing apps for Android creates a unique quality assurance challenge: How can I guarantee the quality of my application on so many different devices?
Of course, this is at least similar to the problems faced by developers of software for computers running the Windows operating system. But Android differs in a few ways, most importantly that Android is still very young by comparison.
That said, developing for Android is surprisingly standard across devices. The most common issues developers have revolve around support for varied screen sizes and the proliferation of Android versions. Fortunately, both of these problems have well documented best practices provided by the Android team. This is to say that these types of problems can usually be solved quickly with reasonable assurance they will work across all Android devices.
There are, however, a class of issues in Android development that aren’t so easily solved. This occurs when a developer chooses, or has no choice but, to code ‘close to the metal’. The vast majority of Android app code is written ‘far from the metal’ in a padded-room of well-documented, relatively low-risk, intuitive interfaces (known as the Android SDK). But these interfaces are not always enough. For example, 3D graphics often require something more sophisticated than the SDK. Another example, Lightning Bug’s new audio system also requires coding underneath the SDK.
But the problem with coding close to the metal is just that: the metal is precisely what differs from one Android device to another. And so with Lightning Bug, we have found a need to test directly on some of the more currently popular Android devices. To that end, our testbed now includes:
- Htc Nexus One (Gingerbread)
- Droid X (Gingerbread)
- Droid X2 (Gingerbread)
- Motorola Xoom (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Ice Cream Sandwich)
While it might seem meager, creating this testbed was not inexpensive given our resources. Except for one, these devices all had to be purchased at retail value without contract. Of course, we do accept this as a cost of doing business. But we ask that if you have an Android device that is not on this list and plan to either recycle it or just throw it out, please consider sending it our way! If we don’t have it, we’d love to add it our testbed. Even if your device doesn’t currently power on, let us know and we’ll send you pre-paid shipping materials. If you’re interested, let us know here:
*If and when any of our testbed devices reaches the end of its lifespan, we will only dispose of it in the most environmentally friendly way possible.