At its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google announced the “Cloud Test Lab,” a platform for testing mobile apps that enables developers to automate the testing of applications on a multitude of Android devices. The Cloud Test Lab provides free automated testing on a tier of “top 20” Android devices and plans to expand the number of devices supported to more than 20 devices. Google’s Cloud Test Lab allows users to examine the compatibility of their applications on different devices by obtaining “crash reports” featuring video snapshots illustrating instances where the application crashed. To use the Google Cloud Test Lab, developers upload their application and run tests on multiple devices in parallel. At the end of testing, customers obtain a report summarizing the progress of testing across all relevant devices with testing results and log files. Based on technology from its acquisition of Appurify, the Cloud Test Lab attempts to both improve the performance of Android-based applications and respond to fragmentation within the Android community by giving developers a unified platform for testing. That said, Google will need to compete with more mature testing platforms such as Sauce Labs and Xamarin in addition to ever increasing fragmentation within the Android community. Google’s Cloud Test Lab for mobile applications is expected to be available later this year.
Sauce Labs recently announced the expansion of its cloud-based testing solutions for mobile and web applications to include Android in addition to iOS. The Sauce Labs web-based testing application allows customers to leverage a laboratory of virtual machines that empower customers to run parallel tests on multiple browser and OS combinations. By extending the capabilities of its testing environment to Android mobile apps in addition to iOS, Sauce Labs consolidates its position as one of the key players in the mobile testing space as enterprises increasingly turn to mobile apps to drive customer retention and to facilitate operational management of employees. Adam Christian, Vice President of Development at Sauce Labs, remarked on the positioning of Sauce Labs in the context of the larger market for mobile app testing as follows:
Appium on Sauce solves a big problem at a critical time. Companies are relying more and more on their mobile channels where they have just seconds to prove their worth with a positive user experience and a lot of mobile apps aren’t thoroughly tested, if they’re tested at all. Automated testing in a virtual environment represents the future, and we’re providing it for the mobile ecosystem.
Based on the open source testing framework Appium, the Sauce Labs cloud-based platform for testing enables mobile developers to focus on definition and development of mobile apps while leveraging the Sauce Labs testing environment to facilitate and streamline testing. As the mobile app market expands, the ability of Sauce Labs to support testing of Android testing is especially crucial given that the market for Android apps is one of the few mobile app verticals experiencing rapid expansion.
According to the market analyst firm Canalys, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Store, and BlackBerry World—the top four app stores—reported 13.4 downloads globally in Q1 of 2013, an 11% increase as compared to the entirety of 2012. In revenue terms, the top four app stores reported $2.2 billion in revenue from app downloads alone, or an increase of 9% over 2012. Whereas Apple’s App Store claimed 74% of revenue, Google Play claimed 51% of downloads with the Apple App Store coming in a close second.
Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd summarized the market landscape for the four main app stores in the mobile app market landscape as follows:
Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world. In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored. Each of these four stores represents a different market proposition for developers, and remains the primary outlet to reach users on the platforms they serve.
By supporting Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the Sauce Labs testing platform supports the overwhelming majority of market share in the mobile app space in terms of both revenue and downloads. The company’s SaaS platform for mobile and desktop application testing currently runs approximately 5 million tests per month and supports testing on over 150 browser/OS combinations. Customers should expect Sauce Labs to additionally support testing for mobile apps via BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store as and assuming both markets mature.