Ever wonder why not all carriers release their mobile devices at the same time? Or how about Android updates? While Google is now at version 4.2.2, some smartphones are still getting updates older than this one. It all boils down to carrier testing and certification. Carriers that have the resources would require testing whether devices meet their specifications — in terms of performance and compliance with their specific needs. This is also the reason why manufacturers have to release separate updates for each carrier.
But testing does not come easy. According to Apkudo, it’s usually normal for tier 1 carriers to have the resources to run a battery of tests before declaring a device or update fit for their needs. Everyone else might not have the clout nor the resources to do so. This testing can be outsourced, however, which is exactly what a startup called Apkudo is doing. Apkudo aims to become the gold standard of device and application testing, so that developers and carriers do not have to waste their time and resources in doing the testing themselves.
Apkudo tests include monitoring performance, running about 25,000 apps from developer partners, and taking high-speed videos to determine dropped frames, among others.
Helping the fight against fragmentation
An added benefit of Apkudo for developers is that it helps fight against fragmentation — or at least its negative effects — by ensuring applications can run adequately across different kinds of devices. Apkudo is so far able to test with over 1,700 devices, which means developers can submit their applications to see how these work on these devices, ranging from low-end to the higher-spec’d ones.
This even includes pre-launch devices, which means developers can be assured that apps can run seamlessly even on upcoming phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Apkudo CEO Josh Matthews admits that while Android users have a wide choice in their devices, this can result in a disadvantage, which is fragmentation. “The flip-side of that is that the variation in quality between devices in terms of performance under different app loads and in different circumstances is also phenomenal, and that can lead to very high return rates and customer dissatisfaction,” he said.
This could be one of the reasons why Android users are less engaged than those using platforms like iOS. This has also been cited as one reason Android has a higher return and re-stocking rate with carriers. Not everyone is using a top-of-the-line smartphone, after all. A bad user experience will usually mean that a user cannot enjoy his or her Android device as much as someone with a hero phone.
The Baltimore-based startup is actually debuting its Apkudo Approved program, which would be a good opportunity for developers to have their apps tried out. Unless you have 1,700 Android devices at your disposal, this might be a better way to ensure your apps work on a wide array of mobile devices as possible, or at the very least reach out to your intended target market better.
Apkudo has so far earned $5 million in revenue from its activities, and some of the second-tier carriers are actually insisting on devices being Apkudo Approved before approving these for sale or subsidy. Apkudo has so far signed Cricket, Cincinnati Bell, C Spire, Alltel and a number of smaller regional carriers under the Associated Carrier Group. Its product for developers is free, as it needs to reach out to as many developers possible, in order to build its profile as a testing platform.
For us end-users, this means the promise better apps and a better user experience, or at the very least apps that do work as intended.