Were you ready for iOS 8? Here's what you need to know...

After much hype, iOS 8 is finally here. Apple’s new operating system for mobile phones, tablets and wearables is now available to download, and it includes more than 4,000 Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which enable new features and capabilities to be added to apps. iOS 8 allows app developers to create filters and editing tools for photos, as well as let users unlock passwords stored in their keychain using its Touch ID feature, and app extension capabilities offer greater collaboration between apps.

App extensions, in particular, can be a developers dream, but can also turn into a testing nightmare.  If the app hasn’t been through the proper quality assurance processes, end-user experience will be significantly hindered, as they will be presented with an app that has flaws or fails entirely.  It is therefore crucial for developers, testers and quality assurance (QA) professionals – who are responsible for ensuring the highest levels of continuous app quality and performance – to react to the changes in iOS 8.

Know what to expect

Extensibility is the primary change that’s likely to impact user interaction with your site or app. It represents new ways for apps to interact and allows them to be more than just the sum of their parts. At its core, extensibility is all about empowering developers to take advantage of all the new features and functionalities that their fellow developers have been creating which, until now, have been essentially walled off from one another.

With the release of iOS 8, Apple is now encouraging apps and app developers to share information, features and functionality with one another, allowing for frictionless app integrations and a vastly improved overall user experience. As part of this new interaction, Apple has also released thousands of its own developer ‘kits’ for iOS 8, such as HealthKit and HomeKit, that allow developers to integrate a suite of themed features and capabilities into their apps – the most ever for the company.

Know how this will affect you as the developer

While there is no doubt that the power of iOS 8 is firmly in the hands of the developers, both developers and testers raised concerns prior to its release; most frequently around updating or re-coding the app to support this new functionality.    

The fact of the matter is that those who are used to doing things a certain way with iOS 7, and other previous releases, should be prepared to make changes to ensure their apps continue to perform reliably at the highest levels. And it’s not just that there are new features to support, but also a question of how the apps work altogether and ‘play nice’ with new widgets, actions, and so on.

In addition to these new iOS 8 capabilities, developers will have to tackle with Apple’s new devices and form factors – i.e. the device size, shape and style – will further complicate the challenge. Launching alongside iOS 8 was the next-generation iPhone 6, which comes in 4.7-inch form factor, and iPhone 6 Plus, the larger out of the two at 5.5-inches. This is not to mention the fact that Apple recently announced that it will finally allow third-party keyboards to be downloaded for use on iOS 8.

Supporting a massive OS update like this presents unique challenges; if you supported the roll-out of a shiny new app in time for the iOS 8 launch, did you release an app that hadn’t been through the proper quality assurance process? This will have been at the risk of offering an app that isn’t going to please the end-user.  A dangerous game to play.

Velocity is the name of the game, given the pace of the market, but maintaining and ensuring quality is just as important.  The reality is that testing cannot be done through traditional manual methods alone. Developers and testers must make sure that automated functional testing is fully incorporated into their build cycle to ensure these apps are ready to go to market. Despite iOS 8 already being launched, it’s not too late to make it happen – now is the time to add automation to the test plan. 

Know how it will continue to affect you as the developer

Ensuring quality and performance doesn’t stop after the initial release. To maintain a quality application, it will need to be re-released many times. Hence the need for automated mobile testing to validate multiple regressions quickly, with robust scripting to ensure test cases run seamlessly and repeatedly, without needing to be updated or modified with each release. 

While it’s critical to get it right the first time so the user’s initial experience is a good one, it’s also critical to monitor the quality and performance of apps going forward. Continuous monitoring can help ensure that the effort of creating automated test scripts, can be reused in a monitoring capacity, to help better understand end-user experiences. Being able to leverage the same scripts will cut down on cycle time, as well as help create a unified baseline across different teams within an organisation. This will help minimise the time required to pinpoint a flaw or failure in production, allowing quicker resolution in an agile development process. 

With iOS 8 now available to download, developers, testers and QAs will be eager to push out their new apps in time for the official launch.  By monitoring and testing an app across different devices and in different environments, they can be sure that when the launch day comes, the app will perform as expected, with no loading errors, displays or display errors. Failing to prepare will not only result in a poor reputation, but may lead to the failure of the app, which is far from what you need on one of the biggest launches in the app world.

Do you know everything you need to about iOS 8? Let us know in the comments.

 

If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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