Tuesday 8 May 2012

Mobile Quality Slipping

About a decade ago I was writing about the web as the land that test forgot. Nothing worked properly. It really felt like nobody tested anything. Thankfully that phase has passed and now, most of the time anyway, things work pretty well.

The quality front has, however, moved to mobile. There is so much pressure to move product and grab market share that nothing is being tested. Used to be that the software in mobiles was largely an afterthought and soon as the hardware was deemed ready the handsets were chucked onto the market. And with no ready way to update the firmware either. Nokia and Sony Erisson were both very guilty of that.

Now this phases seems to have returned with both my iPhone and my Samsung Galaxy Nexus restarting and glitching with annoying regularity. Apps fall over all the time, hang, or just don't respond when you tap in the right place. Even the mobile web is prone to this now - try that fascinating time sink Pinterest on a mobile and you'll see a mess. On Android it messes up immediately. On iOS it waits until you scroll a bit and the screen ends up like a collage of buttons and image fragments.

It's not as if people don't update their software often. I'm seeing a ton of updates all the time, but each one seems to bring fresh problems. Not to mention irritation at having to spend time administering them all.

A worrying tendency is that people seemed to accept this state of affairs without grumbling too much. Smartphones are expected to be a bit flakey it would seem. And that's not a good platform for the future growth that will make every phone smart.

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