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Testing for New Input Devices: 3D Touch and the Apple Pencil

When was the last time you wrote with a pen or pencil? Most of us now use computers and smartphones so the humble pen and pencil have started to fade away. Technology by its very definition will always kill off older inventions — does anyone have a fax machine anymore? However, sometimes, new technology can resurrect a previously outdated concept, and so it is with Apple’s latest innovation the Apple Pencil.

Yes, alongside the new, larger iPad Pro, Apple TV and iPhone 6Ss, Apple launched its own pencil stylus for the iPad Pro. How the Apple Pencil will be utilised by users is still very much up for debate, however with iOS devices having an install base of 1 billion, there is likely to be high demand for this device. Getting apps ready for the Apple Pencil though creates a completely new set of challenges.

New input devices always cause problems for software development by adding an extra layer of complexity. New devices need to be thought about and planned for in the development cycle. Adding their features to the mix can take time, and will need constant testing and retesting. As a result, quality assurance (QA) becomes a challenge.

As with the last major hardware change to Apple devices – Touch ID – business and enterprises had to rethink how their apps worked. This meant including new features and ways to interact with the biometric scanner. Including new features though meant that they had to redesign key aspects of an app and then conduct vigorous test to make sure that they did not damage the overall user experience.

With 3D Touch, automation tools and device cloud tools will again have a major challenge on their hands with testing for multi and pressure touch inputs. Object-page methodology-based automation in particular can struggle with the development of new hardware input methods. For apps designed for the latest iPhone 6S and iPad Pro and its new Apple Pencil, QA testing is even more important and harder than ever before.

In particular, problems for the Apple Pencil can include low power levels and improper use, all of which need specific testing procedures to be run and assessed for. QA teams and tools consequently need to be one-step ahead of app developers to deal with these challenges. With app updates quickly demanded by users, it is crucial to the user experience to have glitch free updates deployed.

Right now, app developers have a busy time ahead of them in ensuring their apps arrive well designed and bug free. Making this process much faster and reliable will be QA testing systems that is ready to test for 3D Touch and the Apple Pencil — the time to test is now.

To find out more about our mobile testing tools and services contact us here.

Picture credit: Apple, Inc.

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