Mobile Apps Testing

App Testing in iOS Systems: iOS 17

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Apple now holds more than just a slice of the United States smartphone market. Nearly half of all smartphone users in the U.S. have iOS-based phones, making it critical for quality assurance (QA) analysts to know what to test on the latest iOS systems. Soon enough, users will shift from iOS 16 when the upcoming iOS 17 launches. This release will challenge developers and QA testers to prepare for new scenarios when the public has access. On the other hand, a large percentage of users still have not updated from older versions of iOS because they do not have a device that supports it. This means testing across all versions, even outdated ones, will remain important to deliver the best customer experience. No user should be left behind. PLUS QA investigated the features of the latest iOS system and its possible impact on testing. We also touch on testing another Apple product anticipated to arrive in early 2024 at the end of the post — Apple Vision Pro.

App Testing on iOS 17

At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC23), a demo of iOS 17 was rolled out. The beta version is set for release in July 2023 with the final public version coming mid-September.

iOS 17 on an iPhone
People are already anticipating the release of iOS 17. Photo credit: PLUS QA

Accordingly, QA analysts will need to integrate the iOS 17 operating system into their testing when it goes live. Since many features in the new iOS system will present a transformative user experience, testing functionality, usability, and accessibility standards is crucial. Making sure existing apps are compatible and can be installed when the update occurs greatly affects users and the success of a mobile app.

Developers of third-party apps and QA testers can work together to streamline user experience for excellence. Whether that is for the release of a new app or regression testing on a live app.

iOS 17 Testing: Features That Might Impact Mobile Apps

When iOS 17 becomes available, iPhone users have reason to be excited. The update could revolutionize how they use their smartphones with several new features — many of which will impact third-party apps.

Apple iOS displaying a new check-in feature that will allow users to notify friends and family when they get to their destination safely.
One of the new features, Check-In, allows users to notify friends and family when they get to a destination safely. Photo credit: Apple

Several updates will likely have the greatest impact on mobile app testing, including some video and AI features. With these features, it is important to test for accessibility to ensure users with disabilities can comfortably use your app, among other reasons.

Siri Messaging

Apple put a new focus on messaging apps outside of iMessage. Users can choose which app Siri uses when sending messages, including third-party messaging systems.

Using Siri on an Apple iPhone to make voice commands
Users will also be able to drop the "Hey" when interacting with Siri. Photo credit: Unsplash

Journal App

The new Journal feature will prompt users to acknowledge and write about moments based on photos, activities, calendar input, and other data. Third-party developers will be able to utilize the feature, offering suggestions for Journal content. Apple states that neither the company itself or third-party businesses will have access to user entries. Still, there are concerns about how intrusive this could be, which testing can help with.

iPhone updated to iOS 17 running the new Journal feature.
A look at the Journal app. Photo credit: Apple

Contact Posters

Users can create highly customizable contact cards that widely expands the current profile pic and avatar feature. Contact Posters will be usable with all calling apps, including those from third-party developers.

Interactive Widgets

Interactive widgets will allow users to access the benefits of their favorite apps (including some third-party apps) from their Home Screen, Lock Screen, and new StandBy mode. Using StandBy mode, and depending on the number of apps running, could drain an iPhone's battery or cause technical inconveniences.

An iPhone on a MacBook with earbuds nearby. The widgets are displayed because the screen is not locked.
Widgets will get a new level of interactivity. Photo credit: Unsplash

Reaction Effects

Users can add reaction effects such as hearts, balloons, rain, and fireworks on FaceTime and third-party live streaming apps. The effects can be activated with hand gestures. An iPhone 12 or later phone is needed to use them.

Other Features

The iOS 17 update will include several other features that could impact QA mobile app testing, including:

  • StandBy — A new horizontal display experience
  • Live Voicemail — Displays real-time voicemail transcriptions on your Lock Screen
  • Keyboard Updates — An update to how autocorrect predicts your typing patterns

Device Compatibility for iOS

Another important point to note is that iOS 17 will only be compatible with certain devices, meaning some users may not have the ability to upgrade if they use a different model than one of these listed:

  • iPhone 14/Plus/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 11/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone XS/Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

iOS 16 User Stats

By looking at iOS 16 statistics, we can better understand how the new Apple operating system will impact QA testing.

Pie charts showing the number of iPhone and iPad (Apple device) users that updated to iOS 16 by May 30, 2023
Apple users are typically early adapters, however, sometimes they cannot update due to owning older models. Statistics source: Apple

iOS 16 came out last September. Apple has updated the software 14 times since — the latest update went live June 21. Despite Apple diligently staying ahead of security concerns, many users have been slow to update to the latest software. As of May, only 39% of iPhones ran the latest version of iOS 16.In late May, Apple reported that 81% of iPhone users updated to iOS 16. A large number, 13%, used iOS 15. You may be surprised that 6% of all users — or about one out of every 17 users — still run iOS 14 or an older Apple OS. Statistics were similar for iPad, which can be seen in the pie chart above. A reason why people do not upgrade is because many people still use models that only run on Apple’s older operating systems.

Apple says it’s important for app developers, and thus QA testers, to continually test apps throughout the year to ensure functionality and security. A dedicated team of analysts will make testing each step easier as they become familiar with the software and developer's goals.

On the Horizon: Is Apple’s VR Headset the Next Big Thing?

Apple will release a new VR headset early next year called Apple Vision Pro. It will reportedly run most Apple apps and hundreds of thousands of third-party apps upon launch. June also saw the announcement of Meta's new VR streaming service, including less expensive gear. What does this mean? Skeptical as people may seem, the market for VR products is continuously growing. As an innovator, Apple has dubbed the new product its first "spatial computing" device. Despite an inventive concept, the product still falls into the augmented reality category. Users will be able to access all senses — their eyes, hands, and voice — to control the headset. Just a few of the features include:

  • Introduction of visionOS, which allows users to browse icons simply by looking at them.
  • Use of hand gestures to select, such as tapping fingers together to select an icon.
  • EyeSight allows users to reveal their eyes to interact with others while still wearing the device.

National Research Group reported in 2022 that 37% people are excited about interacting with VR technology like the Apple Pro Vision. 43% said they would try it under the right circumstances, however, experts have warned about its dangers, too. It is not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed or scared by their experiences with altered reality at this stage of its development. It could also lead to discomfort, frustrations, or legal repercussions if third-party apps and programs are not thoroughly tested for bugs.

One aspect, however, is likely to deter adaption: the price point of the headset. $3,499 is steep for the average consumer. Although for gamers, technophiles, and Apple loyalists, there may be some interest. Only time will tell if the product will catch on in the long-term or lead to designs in a more affordable price range.

A woman using the EyeVision feature on the new Apple Pro Vision.
The EyeVision feature, shown here, displays a users eyes so they can continue to use the device while socializing. Photo credit: Apple

How Can We Prepare to Test a New Generation of VR Devices?

As we enter a new technological age, developers can begin to think about how products like Apple Vision Pro will impact their work. A few suggestions are:

  • Take a shift left approach: The earlier in the process you can start a conversation about testing, the better. It might add more work initially to your load, but there is nothing worse than having to start from the beginning because features of your app do not work.
  • Keep everyone in mind to develop the best app: Many designs started by helping the individual and ended up becoming useful to everyone. Developing products with an eye for accessibility is not only important for compliance. It is ethically and morally the right thing to do. And it also leads to the best innovation in technology. Our A11y testers can help to improve these features and make them accessible for everyone.
  • Know that bugs happen: It is impossible to create an entirely bug-free product. Developers are not the enemy. But it is our responsibility to combine usefulness and accessibility with innovation. Otherwise, customers will not use your products again and business could suffer.
  • Ask for help: As QA professionals, we have tested and re-tested countless apps, websites, and software products. No matter what stage you are at in the QA process we are here to help. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about testing emerging software and hardware.
A man enjoying a new virtual reality (VR) experience.
Virtual reality is opening a new world for some users, but can also be overwhelming. Photo credit: Unsplash

Exploration into the world of augmented and virtual reality will not likely slow. In fact, with Apple's announcement, there may be more competition for VR wearables in the future. Developers can get ready with thorough QA testing. Stay tuned for the release of our guide about the importance of extended reality (XR) testing. This guide will feature statistics and helpful tips about QA testing as VR begins holding the attention of more users.

Ready to start testing your app for iOS 17? Reach out to us for help!

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