Mobile apps are certainly at an all-time high, both in terms of usage and the number being developed. In a recent conference that I was in, focusing on digital marketing and the transformations ahead, the head of Google India and South East Asia talked about how in the coming years (timeline not exactly known), the concept of apps would go away. Computing would be driven by voice recognizing systems on browsers that perform all actions for you. While this is a drastic outcome to imagine from where we are today, one important thing to take away from this is that at the end all we care about is getting the job done. Essentially functionality.
Unfortunately, in today’s world of development, this message is distorted and I believe we are seeing greater focus on user experience than the core functionality. User experience is also important – undoubtedly; but the question is if it gets to just that compromising the focus on core functionality we are gradually moving away from the nucleus that we need to be attending to. Studies show that the average shelf life of a mobile application is only 30 days. Why is this so low? Primarily because mobile apps are often built without much thought into the core functionality and design and released into the market without being adequately tested. This is an increasing issue especially with standalone apps that are built to see quick wins in the marketplace. For example, this may not be as much an issue with established players such as e-commerce merchants, banks etc. which already have a strong web presence, deep workflows, and who are now extending their reach in the mobile space. This is more of an issue with new-bees, who come up with an idea that they want to quickly implement and release. Such ideas have not even been vetted to see if they are strong and deep enough to be engineered. Instead heavy emphasis is placed on their design and non-functional elements such as responsiveness, usability etc. Non-functional elements are to be seen as important peripherals – without a core functional piece, they don’t stand any water. When such a weak base is handed off to the testers, they don’t have much option either than to focus on these elements in their mobile apps testing effort. Before we get too deep into this treacherous trench it is important to understand that functionality cannot be compromised on, whether from an engineering or from a testing angle to ensure a strong mobile app development strategy and market as a whole.