Did anyone notice the permissions required to install the latest Facebook Android app update? Does Facebook really need to be able to connect or disconnect wi-fi to ensure proper functioning? Is it absolutely vital for Facebook to read your text messages, so you can watch the video of your best friend’s kid blowing out birthday candles?

The answer for these questions is probably no. Facebook does not need to turn off my wifi connection for any practical reason. So why are they doing it? Because they can.

Google’s basic approach for permissions is all-or-nothing. The user can either agree to grant all permissions to an app or choose not to install it. The requirement that apps have permission to everything, or an app won’t function, means users cannot control their privacy and security. This all-or-nothing approach also gives developers access to much more information than is necessary to develop and troubleshoot apps.  Unscrupulous developers can easily take advantage of the vast permissions afforded by the Android OS.

"Dear Facebook, Why Do You Want to Connect or Disconnect my Wi-fi?"

The incorporation of App Ops in Android 4.3 was a huge step in the right direction – allowing users to control their privacy and give developers tools to limit their access to unneeded permissions. But, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, App Ops was removed in the Android 4.4.2 update. EFF reports, “Google told us that the feature had only ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and that it could break some of the apps policed by it.” Sure, developers would need to finesse some details to make their apps function with more restrictions to permissions like App Ops, but it’s exactly what iOS developers do every day.  EFF says, “[A] billion people’s data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.”

The all-or-nothing approach is just one part of the growing problem of unnecessary permissions.  This last Facebook update requires a permission to “Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage”. What? Are you for real? Why would Facebook want to delete my data?

In that case, it is probably safe to say that Facebook does not really need or want to delete your files. Gil Megidish, TestFairy’s CTO, says, “It is silly to think Facebook is interested in deleting your SD card.  One of the problems with Android permissions is they are too generic. Facebook commonly saves things to disk: caches profile images, photos and other media onto the SD card, but the permission is to read/write/delete from SD card. Is there a reason why Facebook should access other apps’ files on my SD card? Of course not, but that’s the permission level. A new option was added on API 19, allowing apps to write and delete their own local data without touching other apps’ files, and without requesting for any additional permissions. However, since less than 2% of the Android devices in the market run KitKat, it may take quite a while until this permission can be used by Android developers.”

The options to avoid the all-or-nothing challenge are limited to sophisticated Android users. Cnet reports, “CyanogenMod has implemented the exact App Ops feature that Google has just pulled.” There are, however, only “a few kinds of permissions such as contact list access and location list access” available with CyanogenMod. How-to-Geek has detailed directions for how to root your Android devices to operate App Ops within Android 4.4.2. You can also decide not to install the Android 4.4.2 update, yet some level of performance is sacrificed when updates are not installed. Normal Android users like your mom, neighbor, and uncle don’t have the skill set to make these changes. Most users just tap “YES” on the screen without understanding what they have updated and allowed. So, really, users don’t have a choice to protect their privacy and increase security. Only a small, highly skilled group of Android users can manipulate and manage their permissions – including some of the same developers who cry foul when required to allow permissions they access needlessly from their users.

All users deserve access to intuitive interface to manage and control their permissions. It’s time for Google to incorporate App Ops or a permissions feature in the OS, give users the chance to make decisions about their privacy, and offer developers tools they need to create apps with limited, necessary permissions that apply to all Android OS versions.  The inclusion and quick removal of App Opps not only fuels conversations online discussing new permissions that feel creepy and invasive, but also it ignites distrust of the Android platform and the honest developers who work so hard to enhance the Android experience.

Where is the balance between Google having information it needs, developers having access to appropriate permissions to make quality apps, and users managing their privacy and security?  We want to hear what you think.  Share your thoughts with us via the comments below or email us to blog-feedback@testfairy.com

TestFairy helps Android developers do painless beta testing. Learn more about TestFairy here. Follow TestFairy on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

The Google Play Store update around December 10, 2013, introduced a new feature that has created confusion for users and headaches for developers. An app was presented to rate with the question, “Want Quick Suggestions?” Android developers then noticed their hard-earned, high ratings drop off after this interface was introduced. Through Google+ discussions and online forums, developers discovered that a user who rated through the suggestion feature may have thought they were rating Google’s suggestion. Instead, the rating of the suggestion is actually calculated as an app rating.

Since we posted about this issue on January 1, 2014, we have continued to follow threads, discussions, and conversations that examine Google’s changes and the continuing negative impact on passionate Android developers. Unfortunately, a fair and accurate ratings system seems more difficult to attain. The current system seems to lead not only to confused user ratings, but also it rewards bad user behavior.

Appwared.com uncovered an unsettling trend in Turkey. They analyzed the user reviews for Where is My Water 2, Temple Run 2, Clash of Clans, Dragons of Atlantis, and Hay Day. For Where is My Water 2, they noted, “Believe it or not, 11 out of 15 reviews here are actually 5 STAR reviews!” Users rated it 1 star, but wrote a different, surprising review. They confessed that they gave a 1 star to have their review featured in the Google Play Store. Appwared.com translated several of the 1 star, attention-seeking reviews like this one by Canan Evran, “The game is an example of how a good game should be! Don’t bother that I gave 1 star, it’s because I want my comment gets seen.” A one-star review where a user’s poor intentions are stated should not be calculated or featured, and, if it has been identified in one country, is this bad behavior rewarded in other locations too?

Android developers have few options to deal with this problem. Android Police suggests the only option available to developers is to “flag these low-star, high-praise reviews as spam.” That is still a process that takes time, and, meanwhile, developers continue to watch their ratings fall.

Another dimension to the ratings issue is revealed in a discussion on Hacker News. Culturally and geographically, there are differences in how people rate performance. Raverbashing posted, “In Germany…A 1/5 would be the highest score, and 5/5 would be the worse score.” Several Norwegians posted that they would rate apps exactly the opposite with 5/5 as the best rating. If, as Android Police points out, users would “review apps honestly and consistently,” Android developers could relax.

With frustration increasing and little feedback from Google about the changes, developers are left to untangle data and examine any information to help them make sense of their diminished ratings. Is the “Want Quick Suggestions?” and featured reviews part of Google’s drive to generate more content for their sponsored endorsements? Last October, CNN.com discussed the possibility that “a person’s face could show up on any of the 2 million sites that are part of the Google ad network.” Most users are logged into their Google accounts when they are cruising around the Google Play Store. CNN.com notes, “Leave a review for an album you bought in the Google Play store and that is a usable Google+ endorsement.”

Regardless of Google’s intentions with these changes to the ratings system that seem to reward bad behavior and create confusion, there are some dedicated Android developers living in crisis mode. These developers would prefer to put their time, energy, intellect, and passion into perfecting apps for the Google Play Store.

Are you a developer who has identified 1 star reviews by users seeking 15 minutes of fame in the Google Play Store? Are you a developer who has experienced the same decline in ratings? Share your experience with us at support@testfairy.com.

gradle-icon-512x512

We are very excited to announce that the TestFairy Gradle plugin is now available for everybody. This new plugin integrates the TestFairy platform with the Gradle build system, and allows uploading signed builds directly via command line, IntelliJ, Android Studio and other IDEs. For source code, installation and examples, please checkout our GitHub.

This plugin joins our previous announcements about a NetBeans plugin for TestFairy and our command line tool that can be used for Jenkins or other continuous integration environments. Please check it out and let us know what you think.

netbeans logo
If you are using NetBeans for your Android apps, you are going to love to hear that with the great help of the NetBeans team, we have officially released a NetBeans TestFairy plugin, and you can get it on the NetBeans plugin repository here.
The code is on our GitHub, feel free to change it and let us know if you have any improvements.
The code was written with the kind help of Geertjan Wielenga, read more about this plugin on the Orcale blog.
Thank you Geertjan! :-)

command_line

There are two ways to upload apps to TestFairy: The easy way and the smart way.
The easy way is to use the web upload. As simple as it sounds, just click on the upload button and your’re done.
The smart way is to use our command line uploader.
Why is it better? Because when you upload your app via the web interface, after adding our magic we sign it with our certificate instead of yours. It works perfectly for the majority of apps, however if your app uses 3rd party APIs such as Google In App Billing, Google Maps, Facebook connect and such, those services may not like our signature. For those services where your signature is required, our command line uploader will upload your app, wait for it to be instrumented, get it back, sign it with your signature, and re-upload it to our server. If you are using Jenkins or any other continuous integration platform, this script can be a perfect match.

The code is on our GitHub, please free to change it and offer improvements if you can think of anything useful.

Since TestFairy apps are signed with a TestFairy certificate and not with the original developer certificate, in order to have your app work with Facebook please copy the SHA1 hash from your TestFairy project settings and add it into your Facebook account.

This is how it looks like on the Facebook Developers console:

facebook_settings

Please make sure you add the new string to ‘Key Hashes’ in addition to the hash that you already have and not instead.

 

One of the worst nightmares of any developer is to wake up in the morning and find out their app’s rating has suddenly crashed.  This is exactly what happened to many Android app developers who noticed unusual activity with their Google Play Store ratings after December 10, 2013.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a flurry of 5 stars.  Instead, developers began to sweat it out, as they watched 1′s, 2′s, and 3′s slowly diminish their 4 – 5 ratings. After research and reaching out to Android app developers through Google+, Facebook, and online forums, a picture of what happened and the unintended, surprising results has been crafted by Android app developers.

Amir Uval – the developer behind Countdown Timer, an interval timer and alarm, started a discussion on Facebook and Google+ to reach out to other Android app developers and “discovered I’m not alone.” In his Google+ discussion, details have emerged, links to similar discussions online have been shared, and he “finally put all the puzzle pieces together and concluded what was the source.” Mr. Uval talked with us about his experience and findings. He says, “I’ve noticed a strange a flow of low ratings on Dec 10. I’ve been getting a 1 or 2 once a month before that, and I started to get more negative reviews on a daily basis.”

This graph shows the dramatic shift that prompted Amir Uval's Google+ discussion. This graph shows the dramatic shift that prompted Amir Uval’s Google+ discussion.

Around December 10, 2013, the Google Play Store added a new feature called, “Want Quick Suggestions?” An app appears on the screen, and the user is encouraged to offer a rating without the opportunity to provide a comment. The rating appears to help Google make better suggestions for Android app purchases and downloads by a user’s assessment of the suggestion. But, Uval discovered the rating of the suggestion is converted to a rating for the app. He also discovered that users who touch on the stars as their finger scrolls on the screen could leave a rating. This updated interface seems to provide more opportunities for unintentional, random ratings. This same assessment of the problem is discussed on Reddit and Android forums.

Google Play Quick Suggestion

Paolo Conte joined Uval’s Google+ discussion and shared a graph with us that is nearly identical.  Conte’s app, Trains Timetable Italy (Orario Treni), “had a rating of 5 stars (4.8) for a long time.”  Conte says, “In Italy it is the number 1 app in the transportation category, and it is also featured in the Best of 2013 section.”  And, again, he shares a similar theme to Uval’s experience, “Since Dec 10th I started noticing a lot of 1 star ratings, but with no negative comments.”

"As you can see in the chart below, which covers a time span of one year, it is clear this is just wrong." - Paolo Conte “As you can see in the chart below, which covers a time span of one year, it is clear this is just wrong.” – Paolo Conte[/caption]

Mateusz Mucha is an Android app developer based in Krakow, Poland, whose app, Percentage Calculator, has suffered a similar fate as Uval and Conte.  After December 10, he noticed an increase in 1 ratings on what had previously been a 4.7 rated app.  He said, “Over the next 3.5 weeks, Percentage Calculator received over twice as many 1-star ratings than in its whole 14-month history.”  Mucha took a look at the “Want Quick Suggestions?” app rating feature and concluded, “I’m only sure of two things: I cannot fairly rate it and Google makes me do it.”  The required participation of users who may or may not understand what they are evaluating is creating unnecessary confusion; and, with graphs like Mucha’s below, frustrated developers are losing sleep.

Mucha's Percentage Calculator "had approx. 27 1-star ratings on December 10, now it has 92."

Mucha’s Percentage Calculator “had approx. 27 1-star ratings on December 10, now it has 92.”

The game, Move: A Brain Shifting Puzzle, has experienced the same pattern.  Noam Abta, the developer, said, “It had a very steady average rating of around 4.7, until around the 10 of December, it started to drop gradually and continuously.”  Abta’s graph below is yet another example of a highly rated app in the Google Play Store experiencing a decline on December 10, 2013.  Abta added, “The frustrating part was that most of the commented reviews we got were still enthusiastic 5 star reviews.”

Abta's "Move: A Brain Shifting Puzzle" launched strongly in October 2013. Abta’s “Move: A Brain Shifting Puzzle” launched strongly in October 2013.

Combining the rating of a suggestion with the rating of a specific app’s performance creates a gauge that is more difficult to use and implement in the development process. Uval says, “They just don’t mix – suggestion box asks for relevance, and rating – for overall quality and overall satisfaction with an app.” Right now, developers are struggling to understand their diminishing ratings in light of the commingled ratings and inability to receive comments and feedback from the “Want Quick Suggestions?” interface.

Updates to the Google Play Store interface, ratings, and data affect developers, and hopefully Google will respond to their concerns quickly. Uval suggests “a little note in the developer console” to inform developers of changes. And, as many developers note in forums, the ratings should be separated.  Bogumił Sikora with Paridae, the development team behind Countries Capitals Quiz, shares his chart that shows this downward shift in ratings.

Bogumił Sikora's app Countries Capitals Quiz Android app ratings chart.

Bogumił Sikora’s Countries Capitals Quiz Android app ratings chart.

For developers who share Uval’s experience, this discussion about the ratings change also revealed an unfortunate timing issue. Many of their Google connections are enjoying a holiday vacation, as one of Uval’s Google contacts “autoreplied he is on vacation.”

Right now, unfortunately, there are few options for developers impacted by the ratings. Developers are reaching out to contacts at Google, creating an online conversation, and hoping users swipe anywhere other than the ratings interface. Uval had a bump up in positive ratings after he released an update. He said, “I guess many of my happy users had a chance to rate.”

If you are an Android developer who has experienced ratings changes as a result of the “Want Quick Suggestions?” feature around December 10, 2013 and would like to add their story, please tweet a screenshot of your chart, mention @testfairy and we will add your tweet to this post.

Follow TestFairy on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Learn more about TestFairy here

If you are an Android developer, Android user, or just anything that has Android in it, you must by now know the DroidCon events. We have been in a few of them, in DroidCon Paris, DroidCon London, and the last one was in Amsterdam where we had an excellent time! We met so many many passionate Android fans, who loved our booth (and giveaways!) many of them already use TestFairy for making their app testing painless.

The Plumber Android app achieves the goals of a great puzzler with its addictive game play and play modes designed to make it simultaneously accessible to novices and challenging for advanced users. This Tetris-inspired game requires users to connect pipes across the screen and allow the free flow of water. The simple gestures and the smooth navigation indicate a well-designed interface that delights and engages.

Plumber Android App review by TestFairy

The Plumber Android app opens with a pop-up with thorough directions to introduce users to game play, gestures, and version history; but users can easily skip and move directly into game play without extensive direction. With each tap on a piece of pipe, it turns clockwise. It may be necessary to tap multiple times for the pipe to land in the desired position. The pipes are segments with different shapes – straight, elbow, and t-shape. The elbow pipes are the most challenging pieces to place as they rotate a quarter turn with each tap.

The play screen for both game modes are the same. Segments of pipe fill the middle of the screen. Some are connected, but others are not. On each side of the screen, there is a vertical pipe with the water connections. A vertical water meter is placed on the far right side of the screen, and it fills and flushes based on game play. The graphics are crisp and clear.

Plumber Android App review by TestFairy

The arcade mode for the Plumber Android app requires the user to keep the water flushed from the meter on the right side of the screen. As pipes are connected from one water spigot to another across the screen, the level of the water in the meter decreases. Also, the connected pipes disappear from the screen, and the pipes shift down a level with new pipes filling the top of the screen. When pipes are connected, a pop-up also introduces users to new power-ups and challenges. If a pipe has a lock, it cannot be adjusted. There are blocked pipes, bonus pipes, and flush pipes too. If the pipes are not connected quickly enough, water gathers in the meter. Once it reaches the top, the game is over. The arcade mode is suitable for almost anyone, as it starts at an easy level. It does, however, quickly accelerate for more advanced users to find challenge and interest.

Plumber Android App review by TestFairy

The challenge mode is a great way to introduce children and grandmothers to puzzler Android apps. The same gestures are used in this mode, but the goal is to connect a pipe with fewer touches and shorter times. Points and stars are earned based on how quickly and efficiently a pipe is connected. Once it is connected, the next puzzle in the level is introduced. The first level is so simple, and it would incite much grumbling among pro-puzzlers. But, advanced puzzlers forget that they too required a starting point. For parents who turn to tablets to educate and entertain, their kids are developing critical thinking skills with the Plumber Android app. Frequently, the pressure of working against a clock and a shower of obstacles leads to frustrated kids – not happy, engaged kids.

Simply put, the Plumber Android app is great fun, well-executed, and accessible to a huge range of users.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers. To see TestFairy’s test of Plumber, click here. Are you an Android developer who would like for TestFairy to review your app? Send us an email to support@testfairy.com.

 

DroidCon Amsterdam is just around the corner and if you are a student, you can win a free ticket!
How?
1. Follow @testfairy on Twitter.
2. Tweet anything that has the words @testfairy #droidconNL and #freeticket. Anything that you come up with is fine, try to be original :-)
3. Get your tweet retweeted as many times as possible.
We have one ticket to give away and the winner will be the one that got the highest number of retweets!

You must be a student to win this free ticket. If you already have a day job, feel free to share this with your student friends.
Contest ends on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013.

Ready? Go!

The CATch! Android app is a cool endless running game with an action-packed and obstacle-filled course. The intuitive gesture controls result in a quick immersion in the game. The witty graphics bring humor, lightness, and fun, but they also lead to an unintended consequence. If users slow down to check out the treats or the cute protective helmet earned as a power-up, the chubby LOL cat protagonist will fall flat, screech with horror, cling with fingernails, and crash.

The play options for The Catch! Android app offer a variety of choices to complement different privacy concerns and choices with game play. The opening screen has three options – Facebook sync, establish an account with email, and play as guest. With a Facebook authorization, the opportunity to compete with friends or play in co-op mode is available. For casual gamers and those who just want to play a fun game and avoid the hassle of keeping up with another password, the option to play as a guest is a refreshing choice.

The CATch! App Review by TestFairy

The gesture controls for The CATch! Android app are introduced as the game begins. A swipe up on the screen indicates a jump. A swipe left or right not only turns the cat 90 degrees in either direction, but it may also aid the cat in horizontal jumps. A swipe down slides the cat under obstacles. To maintain balance and veer sideways, the tilt of the device is employed. The device tilt is extremely accurate, and it is a vital tool for success in the game. Like all cats, The CATch!’s cat must navigate on narrow footings – a lot.

After the gestures are introduced, the full CATch! adventure is launched automatically. Treats like goldfish appear along the course, and power-ups like milk enhance speed. Other power-ups earn tricks and tools to perform better in the game. The treats and power-ups are not easily earned, as swipes up, down, and accurate tilts must be coordinated with staying on course. The speed is fast, and obstacles are presented in quick succession. A couple of crows are also circling overhead and ready to pounce on weak CATch! cats. The game play is intuitive and familiar to endless running gamers, but the rich, obstacle-laden course provides challenge and complexity.

The CATch! Android app reviewed by TestFairy

As the game progresses and points accumulate, scores are added to the leaderboard – even if playing as a guest. In-app purchases may lead to greater success, but persistence will offer the possibility of purchasing two other CATch! cats with specialized skills with points earned. And, that is a likely outcome with this addictive, delightful game.

The strength of the graphics and the cat world view are thoughtful and dramatically impact the quality of a user’s experience. The perspective of the game scape is a cool blend of a cat’s first-person view and the hovering view of the user following just behind it. The glimpse of the course ahead, the CATch! cat in action, and the user directing is dynamic and fun. Graphic touches like the cat-food shaped treats and forcing a cat to run past a garbage can and under a fence at the same time bring humor and fun to the game. The CATch! cat itself is a classic chubby, adorable cat that will take off with shocking speed to avoid the anger of Grandma, the dogs in pursuit, and the angry birds.

The CATch! Android app reviewed by TestFairy

In a surprising twist, users who play the game well are missing out. One of the most endearing parts of the game is the hilarious way the CATch! cats crash. The yell of the doomed cat and the painful scratching of it trying to hold on by its fingernails punctuates the always amusing fall.

The CATch! Android app is a fun, exciting LOL cat adventure, but, unfortunately, it won’t go viral. Instead, the reward is climbing The CATch! leaderboard standings in minutes after starting this addictive game.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see TestFairy’s test of The CATch!, click here.  Are you an Android developer who would like for TestFairy to review your app?  Send us an email to support@testfairy.com.

We are back from a great week in London, full of excitement, excellent new leads, and probably too much beer :-) We started with 2 days in Apps world, probably the biggest apps event in Europe. The event attaracted more than 15,000 people, and for some moment it felt like they all came to the event especially to hang out in our booth!

Apps World’s highlight was definitely Steve Wozniak keynote, and guess who used his exhibitor’s pass to get in 10 minutes before the opening and catch a 3rd row seat just to get a picture of his childhood hero!

And right after Apps World, when we thought that it can’t get any better than this, came DroidCon, an Android developers only event where the atmosphere was excellent, the people were extremely friendly and the beer was free. As you can see in these pictures, our puzzle giveaway was a big hit.

Our presentation at DroidCon got really nice feedback, as you can see in these tweets:

Not sure if I mentioned it already, but that was a fun week!
Here are some pictures, here is the full album

The Blockheads Android app picks successful elements of Minecraft and Super Mario, adds graphics with a Spongebob Squarepants whimsical touch, and incorporates basic human survival skills and stories. There is a familiar, relatable quality to the Blockheads that unfolds as a unique world is created and human-style characters are nurtured and directed with intuitive gestures and deliberate thought.

The Blockheads app review by TestFairy

The graphics of the Blockheads Android app are built on the model of Minecraft, Super Mario, and Spongebob. The game world is created of cubes of different elements – dirt, rock, wood, etc. Yet, the starry night sky adds unexpected contrast and softness. The characters are selected, and a choice between man or woman is offered. The man or woman has typical human characteristics – just without rounded edges. With Spongebob, menacing, challenging moments lack a real sense of fear or threat, and the Blockheads – for the large part – stays away from adding tension. When a character is in a less-than-desirable situation, hints and insights scroll onto the top of the screen to help you make the right decision. Also, a touch on the info icon will lead to an extensive introduction to the story and skills needed.

There are two play modes for the Blockheads Android app. In single player mode, the user is free to name the world, craft it, and care for the character. Virtually any world contained in a user’s imagination may be crafted with the rich, complex variety of resources and tools available.  In multi-player mode, the collaborative experience of working with others and protecting your character is challenged. These two modes give parents the peace of mind to let a precocious young one experience the game without the distractions and sometimes poor choices made in a multi-player world.

The Blockheads app review by TestFairy

The game screen is efficient, yet power-packed. The first step is to name the world and select a character. A constant update of happiness and energy follows the character around the world in two horizontal line measurements. The emphasis on maintaing proper health and protecting the character drives the story that constantly pops-up on the top of the screen. The powerful crystals earned are tallied in the upper left hand corner of the screen. A tap on the screen moves the character to the new location. To dig out dirt or rock, a tap on the block shows the tool or item needed to accomplish the task. A specific number of objects must be acquired to perform certain actions. The gestures and feel of the game play are intuitive and functional.

On the right side of the screen, the display of inventory is organized in darkened cubes. When an item is touched, it automatically appears in the hands of the character and is ready for use. To check out different, yet similarly categorized items, a touch on the piece of inventory leads to a horizontal sliding field of cubes with graphics of additional inventory. The inventory interface is readily available and frees the user of multiple gestures and navigation screens.

The Blockheads app review by TestFairy

The Blockheads Android app is creative, engaging, thought-provoking, and addictive. The focus on building the character, while addressing, meeting, and conquering the challenges of living in an environment, is a life lesson bundled up in a neat Android package.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see TestFairy’s demo test, click here.  Are you an Android developer who would like for TestFairy to review your app?  Send us an email to support@testfairy.com.

Had a wonderful time presenting TetFairy at the GeekTime conference. We are in the 10 lucky startups that made it to the finals, and although we didn’t take the trophy, that was one of the most exciting days we have ever had :-)

Picture by Alan Weinkrantz

The Trello – Organize Anything Android app combines to-do lists, task prioritization, pertinent data, and sharing capabilities into neat and functionality-rich boxes. The same, smart interface supports simple errand lists, home and personal projects, and more complex business pursuits.

A Google sync establishes an account. The authorization threatens to be a lengthy one with a warning on the screen, but ultimately a delay does not materialize. The assurance that both services only use appropriate info as accepted in terms of service and privacy should make users more comfortable with the social sync.

Trello review by TestFairy

The home screen is a list view of boards with a menu bar at the top of the screen. The lists appear in alphabetical order, but it can be filtered with a keyword search in the upper menu bar. The person icon leads to a new screen with access to shared boards, profile information, and settings adjustments. The Trello logo with a plus icon in the lower right corner starts the process of adding a new board. The plus icon is frequently incorporated throughout the Trello Android app interface, and generally leads to a pop-up menu of tools and features relevant to the current screen. Prior to adding a new board, the first stop should be the Welcome Board in the list.

The thought and care devoted to the Welcome Board make users instantly comfortable with the interface and navigation. The Welcome Board is an interactive tutorial with three levels. The first Welcome Board contains basic tools, tips, and functions. Horizontal swipes on the screen lead to the intermediate and advanced capabilities. The visual format and basic organization of Trello boards remain the same at all levels, but more detailed and collaborative tools are highlighted and articulated.

Trello review by TestFairy

To create a board, tap the icon or the field to add a board. Each board is named and assigned to an organization, and private or public status is determined. The first board to fill the screen is the to do board. Horizontal swipes lead to a doing board and a done board. The incorporation of multiple boards for different stages of projects is smart, as projects require dynamic, malleable tools for organization.

A tap on the plus icon in the upper right corner of each board adds a new field that is referred to as a “card” in Trello. Each card is contained in a separate visual space on the board. A new card is added, named, and pertinent details included. A card can be a variety of things – a checklist, photos, hyperlinks, files, and notes – added via manual text entry, copy and paste from browser, and file and photo attachment. As each card is created, a new screen that complements the specific card fills the screen. Advanced features allow due date assignment, invitations to others for collaboration, votes, color-coded labels, and keyboard shortcuts.

Trello app review by TestFairy

One of the strengths of the Trello Android app is its graphic style. Visually, Trello’s boards have the feel of a social network feed. A photo may fill a card with a comment box showing the number of items contained in the card. A due date is boldly placed next to a card to grab attention. Each card may contain several pieces of information, but it is streamlined and well-organized.

The Trello – Organize Anything Android app’s social elements and smart tools create an intuitive, forward-thinking productivity app. It makes project management much more palatable, and it thoughtfully reflects the moving parts and multiple stages required to stay on top of life, home, responsibilities, and business.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see TestFairy’s test of Trello, click here.  Are you an Android developer who would like for TestFairy to review your app?  Send us an email.

The Quizlet Android app is not just for students and teachers, but for anyone engaged in learning for business, pleasure, and happy hour trivia competitions. It is a smart, sophisticated, and surprisingly simple tool to research, share, and study flashcards – called sets in Quizlet – on virtually any subject, concept, and strategy at any level. With topics ranging from chemistry and finance to learning the alphabet and destroying an opponent in chess, the impressive quantity and quality of study tools are smartly organized in the Quizlet Android app.

The sign-in process is straightforward. A log-in may be created with date of birth, username, password, and email address. Social authorizations of Google and Facebook are also options to create an account. The social connections allow collaboration for study groups, and some teachers and students have created classes to add sets relevant to in-class material. It is helpful to be aware social sharing is not a requirement to access tools and functions. The Quizlet Android app also syncs with a quizlet.com account, so all devices have access to history, favorites, and saved sets.

Quizlet App Review TestFairy Log-in

The home screen is crisp, clear, and easily navigated. There are two menu bars at the top of the screen – one is blue, and the other is black. The blue menu bar provides tools to move between the vast amount of resources available in the Quizlet social network, and the black menu bar serves to filter and sort the specific sets identified for study.

The blue menu bar has just four icons. A touch on the arrow icon leads to a slide down menu of classes, so movement between classes and all sets is quick. The card with plus icon remains a placeholder for the upcoming feature to create sets within the Quizlet Android app. Currently, the tool to create sets is online only. With more than nine million users, it is entirely possible that sets on a needed subject are already available. The three dot icon allows access to profile and feedback, and the search icon opens a search field to search for flashcards, classes, and specific users. As a search is entered, a list is created on the screen. For example, a search for “chess” yields hundreds of options, but additional words like “strategy” and “openings” narrows the options. The title of the flashcards and number of cards are listed.

The black menu bar is labeled with sorting options like filter, all, studied, created, and favorites. A touch on each word changes the lists of sets instantly. The lists are generally sorted by the most recently studied and added at the top. To enter a keyword, a tap on filter reveals a keyboard for swift entry.

Quizlet App Review TestFairy Home Screen

After a set is selected for study, there are three different modes to engage with the content. The first option for study is simply studying them from a list form. The term is featured in bold print, and the definition is shared just below it. With a touch on either term or definition, it is read aloud. This functionality accommodates those who learn better from listening or reading. The next option is similar to Jeopardy. The term is missing, and the definition is read aloud. In order to win, the missing term must be entered. The final learning tool is matching terms and definitions in a puzzle against a clock. Terms and definitions are placed in a matrix grid, and two consecutive taps on a term and the correct definition removes them from the board.

A cool, unexpected feature of the Quizlet Android app is the incorporation of photographs. If a set has photos, they are used in interesting ways to enhance visual learning. A thumbnail image will appear to the left of a term and definition in a list. In the matching game, the photo is softened and placed in the background while the definition is shared in bold font.

Quizlet App Review TestFairy Match Game

The Quizlet Android app prevents you, your kids, and colleagues from playing awesome Android games because your study materials are not easily available. There is no more procrastinating with these practical study tools available on your Android phones and tablets.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see the test of Quizlet, click here.

Robert Scoble has just said again that he stays on Android.  
This follows a few others like Paul Stamatiou, TechHive’s Andy Ihnatko, and even Guy Kawasaki have made surprising revelations – they are moving to Android phones and tablets.  On Quora, Scoble says, “I saw a new series of trends that, bundled up, bring us to contextual computing … Most of the apps in this new field are on Android.” Stamatiou decided he had to immerse himself more fully in Android to create better products on this platform.  He notes, “You can access the file-system, the hardware, use intents to pass data to other apps and services, and, much more.” As a writer for TechHive and other tech websites, Andy Ihnatko has the unique opportunity to spend time with new phones and operating systems without pesky contracts.  He explains, “Almost anything I do that involves one app working with another app is much, much easier on an Android device than on an iPhone, thanks to a deep-rooted mechanism for interapp collaboration.” While Guy Kawasaki sums it up,”To me the great irony is that Apple’s slogan was `Think Different,’ but today if you think different you’re looking at Android.”

This innovation in app technology is driven by the freedom to customize, tailor, and craft a dynamic, intuitive experience on the Android platform. The creative possibilities available for developers in this environment free of the restrictive iOS app development program have enabled the insightful Google Now app, enhanced voice recognition software uses, and created practical solutions to everyday challenges–the simple, cohesive notifications interface is a perfect example of streamlining a process that iOS has made laborious.  Developers are taking advantage of the malleable and innovative Android platform and converting even the most devoted iOS users in the process.  These influential tech movers and shakers have made dramatic shifts in their thinking, and they have each articulated how and why they made the move from iOS to Android with candor and thoughtfulness.  But, as all of these guys make clear, there are still iOS advantages with its excellent camera and smooth, intuitive interface.

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Paul Stamatiou’s blog post documents the unmatched integration of Google into virtually every aspect of day to day life with incredible detail and insight.  ”It only took that first week to realize I wasn’t really locked into the Apple ecosystem and certainly not iCloud,” he says.  From Gmail to Google calendars to the relatively new verb “google,” Google has amazing insight into how we live and work and has used this information to develop Android app technology that streamlines, organizes, and enhances mobile experience.  Stamatiou explores the latest iteration of this cohesive experience, as Google Now predicts the information you may need based on travel plans, appointments, locations, and more from your Google services on your devices.  

Stamatiou confesses, “I do, however, miss iMessage. I ended up setting Facebook Messenger as my default SMS app (yes you can set default apps!).”  The ability to customize apps, eliminate those you don’t like or want, and alter settings has a broad appeal to Stamatiou and other Android converts.  Simply put, Google iOS apps do not have the enhanced level of functionality available on Android.  Perhaps, this simple fact describes the limitations of iOS as developers create the next generation of mobile apps.  Developers are finding they can do more on Android.

The generous room for innovation on the Android platform can lead to practical, yet can’t-live-without solutions.  Guy Kawasaki shares in an interview with readwrite.com that he is particularly drawn to “support for NFC (near field communication), true multitasking and the ability to see all of his apps in alphabetical order.”  The brilliance of a standard charging cable leads him to say, “Another thing I like with Android is they don’t have some stupid proprietary cable.”  Robert Scoble makes a compelling case for the leap forward in voice recognition software on Android.  He says, “Since it is illegal to touch a phone while driving, both Glass and Moto X are big deals for me since I drive 1.5 hours every day.”  Siri cannot initiate a phone call without at least one touch on the phone.

Android is slowly shrugging the reputation of being without similar style and finesse of the iOS system.  In his multi-part series documenting his transition from iOS to Android for TechHive.com, Andy Ihnatko says, “Most of the time, I could find feature-equal Android versions of the same apps I had been using in iOS. When I couldn’t, I found Android substitutes that I liked just as much or even more.”  Design-driven and chic apps are finding their way to the Google Play store with modern graphics and slick interface.  A great example of the merging of Android technology and high-end design is Google Glass.  Scoble shares, “Google Glass is a real game changer. No other consumer electronics device knows where I’m aimed, where I’m looking, and has such a consistent access to my context through the sensors inside.”  In fact, fashion designers are stuck designing expensive and stylish iPhone cases, while Google Glass is an accessory worthy of the runway at the Diane Von Furstenberg show at New York Fashion Week.

The freedom to express, experiment, and examine ways to make life more productive, fun, and exciting with Android is here.  The restrictions of the iOS app development program have created an opportunity for app developers to explore and take advantage of Android’s dynamic platform.  As Paul Stamatiou puts it, “I needed to more intimately grok Android UI paradigms.”  And surely, with fresh perspective and spirited exploration, Android developers will grok and overtake iOS’s consumer-friendly edge – and integrate a much needed awesome camera.

*TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see what we offer, click this link.*

Looking for the perfect restaurant? Following a breaking news item? Searching for a gift for the quirky hard-to-buy-for friend? The Everything Home app customizes an Android phone for each moment. Everything Home eliminates gesture-controlled movement through your phone to search for complementary apps, and the manual re-entry of the same topic in multiple search engines and apps. Simply speak or type a topic to check out, and your background, apps, and content instantly change.

The Everything Home Android app opens with an insightful, appealing video to introduce you to its features. Set in a similar style to the Apple versus PC television ads starring John Hodgman that aired several years ago, an Everything Home user is juxtaposed with his twin who doesn’t use the app. The Everything Home user shows how the background, apps, and content change on his phone, as he uses voice recognition software to quickly find what he wants and needs. He starts a movie and finds a restaurant while his brother who doesn’t use the app is stuck shaking his phone. The video is effective because it is well-produced, entertaining, and informative.

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Following the video, a touch on the continue button moves you to a succinct and powerful screen. The directions state, “It’s all about you. Enter whatever’s on your mind, and your phone will instantly adapt.” In the top of the phone’s screen, there is a Google-style search bar. This Everything Home search bar accommodates a keyboard-entered search, or a touch on the microphone allows users to speak a topic. That’s all it takes for a complete overhaul of your Android phone, and the result is surprising and exciting.

The visual change to your Android screen is striking, but the adjustment of topic-oriented content is a time-saving, why-hasn’t-anyone-thought-of-this-before moment. The screen’s background changes to a photograph or visual element that touches on the topic entered. Relevant contacts from the contact list are available for one-touch access. Apps that are applicable are presented, as well as maps, web content, and more. When an app is opened, content relating specifically to the search topic is available without extra entry or filtering. For example, the Twitter icon will lead to a list of tweets with the hashtag of the search. When searching for a type of cuisine, Yelp opens to a list of restaurants that serve the cuisine. Search for a musician, open YouTube, and start a video – in literally two touches on your phone screen.

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The dots in the upper right hand corner of the screen offer access to limited, yet effective, sorting and filtering options. With a touch on the refine results icon, several different options may be presented that relate closely to your topic. For a news item, the options included trending news, news, and web search. For a style of cuisine, the refinements allowed a search for restaurants. Each search can be filtered and refined with suggestions like those found in a typical Google search. With a touch on the new search, the background changes and apps change.

The Everything Home app makes an Android phone smarter and more intuitive, as it instantly connects users with the most relevant information for each situation, whim, and desire.

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TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see the test of Everything Home, click here.