Xamarin Test Cloud Service for Mobile Developers Launches

Xamarin announced a new Test Cloud service for developers to test their mobile apps. It's based on the Calabash technology from LessPainful, which Xamarin acquired.

Xamarin, a maker of cross-platform mobile application development tools, has announced the Xamarin Test Cloud, an automated user interface testing service that enables mobile developers to easily test their apps on hundreds of mobile devices.

Xamarin, which boasts some 300,000 developers, made the announcement at its Xamarin Evolve 2013 event in Austin, Texas, April 16. Xamarin Evolve 2013, with more than 600 mobile developers attending, is the company's first worldwide developer conference.

Nat Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Xamarin, told eWEEK that after helping developers with cross-platform development and enabling them to build fully native mobile apps for iOS and Android, "the next big challenge was how to help them test their apps. Mobile app development is quite different in some key ways. Quality is much more important than on the desktop. For instance, app sessions are really short and if an app crashes, users may not go back to it."

Indeed, Friedman said a highly competitive app marketplace and the consumerization of IT have put tremendous pressure on developers to deliver high-quality mobile user experiences for both consumers and employees. A small bug or crash can lead to permanent app abandonment or poor reviews. Device fragmentation, with hundreds of devices on the market for iOS and Android alone, multiplies testing efforts resulting in a time-consuming and costly development process. This is further complicated by faster release cycles for mobile, necessitating more stringent and efficient regression testing.

However, with Xamarin Test Cloud, developers can overcome device fragmentation by testing their apps automatically on hundreds of real, non-jailbroken mobile devices, Xamarin officials said. The service simulates real user interactions by testing apps through the UI directly. Now developers can deliver high-quality apps on multiple device platforms more quickly, reliably and cost effectively than with traditional manual testing methods, Friedman said. Xamarin Test Cloud will be available to developers building apps in Objective-C, Java and other frameworks, as well as tightly integrated into Xamarin's development platform.

In a recent Xamarin survey, only 8 percent of developers reported using existing automated UI testing tools. These tools require significant investment to get started and rely on fragile methods of defining correct UI behavior that can break test cases with small UI changes. In addition, many do not provide cross-platform support and do not integrate well into developer's tools and workflow.

Automated UI testing is the way to go here, Friedman said. Yet Xamarin Test Cloud goes beyond other automated UI testing solutions and enables developers to conquer device fragmentation to ensure apps work properly on actual physical devices with hundreds of combinations of operating systems, screens and resolutions. Devices are not jailbroken and can be configured to run in a variety of languages and other environments.