App development has definitely taken the world by storm, particularly when it comes to web-based and mobile apps. Unfortunately, far too many of these end up being half-baked offerings that are filled with bugs and problems. You don’t want that for your app and that’s why you want some real beta testing under some real-world conditions.
Beta testing among your co-workers and colleagues can only go so far. For some real beta testing, you might consider giving uTest a try. Used by the likes of Groupon, Netflix, Amazon and Intuit, uTest has a long track record of helping companies of all sizes meet their testing goals.
What Is uTest and How Is It Different?
In a nutshell, uTest offers a software testing service where you can submit your app and they’ll have their QA team run it through its wringer. This service encompasses web-based applications, desktop applications, and mobile apps across multiple platforms. In the case of web-based apps, for instance, you can request that the app be tested in Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, and multiple versions of IE. When it comes to mobile apps, uTest can handle Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS, and webOS.
One of the bigger points to note here is that uTest offers real-world testing. Many app developers have likely experienced this problem: they run and test the app on their own and everything seems to be problem-free. With the utmost confidence, they launch the app into the world only to find that it is actually riddled with bugs. These bugs are encountered by users in different countries, using different platforms, on different devices, under different circumstances.
“Most software testing vendors help companies to test better inside the QA lab. This is necessary and important work, but it doesn’t replicate the conditions and experience of end users,” said Matt Johnston, Chief Marketing Officer at uTest. “Conversely, uTest’s software testing services enable companies to test their web and mobile apps in the wild — that is, under real-world conditions, with professional testers using real devices, imperfect connectivity and in 190+ countries.”
Needless to say, there’s a definite value in getting your app beta tested by uTest. By finding the bugs before any kind of public release, you are able to protect the perception and performance of your app. This gives you the opportunity to iron out the kinks that were discovered through real-world use, giving you the chance for a cleaner and more successful launch. It doesn’t matter if you have a great app if it’s riddled with bugs; that’ll spell doom right from the start. Find those bugs and fix them now before they end up costing you down the road.
Who Are the Testers and What Do They Do?
Yes, the tester pool for uTest just about spans the entire globe, but that doesn’t mean that you’re getting second rate testers. Matt Johnston says that the “50,000+ professional testers…have an average of five and a half years professional QA experience, and 95% work full-time or part-time in the QA profession.”
If you have a look at the How It Works page, you’ll see that uTest offers five main types of beta testing: functional testing to ensure your apps work the way they should; security testing to help you avoid common security and privacy vulnerabilities; load testing to see if your app’s performance doesn’t degrade with heavy traffic; localization testing to cover content translations; and usability testing to help you launch products that are intuitive and clean.
The testers are assigned through a proprietary matching algorithm. “So when uTest tells you that a tester is a great functional tester on iPhone apps, or extremely strong in usability testing of web apps in the retail industry,” said Johnston, “it’s because our customers have rated those testers highly based upon their past performance.”
How Much Does It Cost?
Aye, there’s the rub. In order to get pricing for the service, you must first select the type of testing that you want and then fill out a basic contact form. While uTest would certainly prefer if you put in your legitimate information, none of it is verified, so you can enter whatever you want.
You’re then directed to the planning wizard where you define the app type, operating systems, app industry, testing deliverables, app complexity, team size, testing duration, and testing regions.
Using my hypothetical example above of an iOS app for exploratory testing in North America and Europe for a period of six months, the price estimate comes out on the $3001-$3667 range per month. That works out to an approximate total cost of $20,000. This won’t fit everyone’s budget, to be sure, and the cost goes up with greater complexity or a larger number of platforms. As such, uTest makes more sense for companies that are willing to invest that kind of cash. That’s why the customer list includes the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Associated Press.
Who Else Can Beta Test?
If you’re looking to save yourself some money, there are some alternatives out there like TestFlight and iBetaTest. That said, there are at least two concerns that you should keep in mind: these alternatives are mostly public, so they might affect public perception of your app before it officially launches; and the beta testers aren’t necessarily professional and may not be able bring the same kind of valuable experience to the table.
Yes, uTest isn’t exactly cheap, but can you really afford to launch a bug-ridden app?