Gesture-based input is the present and future of computing. We have added whole new meanings to words like swipe, pinch, zoom and flip. For mobile developers, reconciling touch-based input with design and functionality goals in apps has become a problem. Testing gestures in an app is time consuming and problematic.
A "cloud testing" company by the name of SOASTA wants to change that. It has come out with several new products today to help developers test gesture-based input for mobile applications. SOASTA said last year that 75% of all mobile and Web apps go live without ever being scale tested. By merging the cloud and new touch modules, SOASTA believes it has evolved app testing to finally catch up with input methods.
SOASTA is unveiling CloudTest, a tool that captures all user actions and gestures on real devices. SOASTA is attempting to create a new test method that is better than the previous generation of device emulators. By merging its gesture-based testing with the cloud, TouchTest can examine how interfaces react to input on real devices in the company's network.
This can all be done without tethering, rooting or jailbreaking a device. TouchTest controls the device through software and accesses them through their IP address. Basically, TouchTest is Internet driven. Organizations can build a "private device cloud" with devices inside their data centers or in remote locations. That means that the number of devices needed to perform large scale testing is greatly reduced.
The notion of a device cloud is nothing new. There are other services like DeviceAnywhere, Apkudo and Perfecta Mobile that apply similar solutions. The notion is to test an application against dozens or hundreds of devices at one time by cross-examining them through device and operating system specifications in the cloud.
With TouchTest, the idea is to see a certain swipe/pinch/zoom etc. movement will work against various UI changes. What happens in an app across platforms when someone makes this gesture?
That swipe could be somebody trying to write the number "2" or dragging an icon from one folder to another. TestTouch can record the movement and test it in a variety of circumstances.
"TouchTest captures not only the start and end points of each gesture, but the journey between and the speed with which the gesture is performed," the company said in a press release. "Because CloudTest tests inside the app, all actions and gestures are captured at the object level creating tests that are more stable across releases, even as the user interface (UI) changes."
Outside of testing services like DeviceAnywhere, SOASTA says that its biggest competition is actually developers testing the old-fashioned way: fingers and eyeballs.
"Optical recognition, or screen scraping is flawed for testing, " said Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA. "It is brittle, there is no continuous framework ... we saw a specific set of opportunities with TouchTest."
CloudTest lite is available for developers right now while the fuller, paid versions for iOS and Android will be released shortly.
Is there a market for CloudTest and TouchTest? What have been your experiences with gesture-based app testing? Does the manual approach work for you or does something like CloudTest make sense? Let us know in the comments.