Apple's recent announcements - the impact for developers and testers

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Apple's recent announcements - the impact for developers and testers

At its Worldwide Developer Conference in late May, Apple shared a sneak preview of what to expect in the autumn, including news around iOS 16. This gives app developers and testers a bit of time to get their heads around the implications, including new test requirements. Here are some of the highlights from the conference.

Apple Pay and Apple Card are becoming increasingly adopted globally. Plus, with the new enhancements around the ability to split Apple card payments, support tracking of eCommerce purchases and shipments through the Apple Pay app, and more, developers must ensure they can support all those features.

Apple is dropping support for iPhone 6S, iPhone SE 1st Generation, and iPhone 7 Series, so these will be locked on iOS 15.x. In addition, the iPad Mini 4 (2015) and iPad Air 2 (2014) will not be supported on iOS 16. Therefore, app developers who see significant traffic from these older devices will need to maintain them in their test labs, alongside the newer models that will have iOS 16 soon.

In addition, four new iPhones will need to be added to mobile test labs. Their enhanced chipset performance — for media, gaming, and other apps with a rich UI — will be essential to test and benchmark.

Of course, security and privacy are always a priority. This time, Landscape Face ID authentication will need to be thoroughly tested as a new use case. Likewise, accessibility is becoming seen as critical to app quality and UX. With iOS 16, new features will include Live Captions transcription in real-time and within FaceTime video calls. Again, this means adding a whole new set of use cases to functional testing. 

Finally, App Clips, the web-based subset type of app, is being enhanced with increased app size limit and location suggestions within the app. Once more, these have implications for app developers and testers too. 

Getting ready

So what can developers and testers do right now to be more prepared of actual launch?

Create the right platform testing matrix for maximum coverage. Covering all devices, old and new, across different iOS versions. While there will be early adopters, other users will keep their devices for some time to come, meaning that the test matrix can quickly become complex.

Ensure that continuous testing activities are not broken. As part of a healthy pipeline for mobile apps, a variety of test scenarios should be executed on-demand, per each code commit and for regression. In addition, testers must exercise their Appium and XCUITest suites on all platforms, including smartphones and tablets, to ensure that the changes in UI, security, notifications, widgets and more do not break any of their scripts, whether on the new iOS or older versions.

Prepare for two months of stabilisation for the new iOS. Based on previous years, both developers and testers should expect a stabilisation phase of 6-8 weeks, where Apple most likely will release more betas and GA versions to fix regression defects and more.

Maintain app hygiene. As part of the prep phase during the beta releases, developers should debug their existing mobile and web applications so that they are ready to make the most of new features with minimal distraction from other issues.

Use test reports. Gain better control and visibility, and make the most of test data.

As team test different iOS and iPadOS application versions across different smartphones and tablets, they generate a lot of test data, which — when used wisely — can inform app health, security, memory utilisation, accessibility, compliance, performance issues, and much more. Test results and test data can be used to perform edge-testing, leading to happy and negative path testing, which in turn allow app developers to be on top of their app quality issues early in their development lifecycle.

Test smarter. Look at new techniques to improve test coverage while keeping up with volume and complexity, such as continuous test automation and low-code/no-code ML-based testing.

Finally, be ready to act fast. Exact timescales from Apple are often not known until the last minute.The more preparation app developers and testers can carry out over the summer months, the better. In return, this means fewer issues in the autumn, happier customers, and continued app revenue.