Wednesday Nov 27, 2013 The Place for Android Crowd Testing

One of the really nice people I met at DroidCon in Amsterdam over the past few days was Yair Bar-On, CEO and Co-Founder of (By the way, the image to the left is not the real TestFairy logo, just a funny one someone on Twitter suggested as a joke but I think is just perfect.) Aside from confounding me with his evil bookmark gimmick (weird puzzly devices on his booth table for no other purpose than to keep you stuck listening to him while you figure out how to untangle the beads from the bookmark without destroying it), Yair also introduced me to TestFairy.

The idea is that you've developed your Android app and now you have an APK file, either from native Android or from PhoneGap/Cordova. Now you'd like to test that APK file and also monitor what your testers are actually doing with it. So you upload your APK file to and then tell the world where to get hold of it. One nice thing is that you can distribute a URL to a bar code, which your testers can then install via a bar code scanner on their Android device.

And then you sit back and monitor what they're doing with the app!

Above, you can see the apps I've made available for testing, below you see the testers registered for testing the current app:

And here's a movie of what the current tester actually did with the app:

The above are some of the displays you get on, including (as the last screenshot shows) a movie that shows exactly what the tester did with the app, including where they touched the screen and the movements of the screen itself during testing.

I think this is a great basis for crowd testing! Everyone in the world could get access to your app, they could try it out, and you'd sit back and monitor what's going on with your app everywhere in the world.

Two approaches are supported. In the first, you don't get the instrumented APK back. In the second, you get the APK back, instrumented, i.e., with all the stuff TestFairy adds to it in order to monitor it. Then you can pass that APK to whoever needs to test it, after you've signed it with whatever stuff you need to add to it prior to testing. But, if you don't need to add your own signatures, then leaving the APK on the TestFairy site during testing is great, especially the bar code approach to distributing the APK is pretty cool.

Would even be better if you could somehow define your own URL. I.e., for my "BeerJudge" app, I'd like to have a URL something like "", which would be easy to tell the rest of the world about. They'd all go there, scan the bar code, and have immediate access to the app and then I could sit back and monitor their activities. It's also useful because it shows which parts of the app are most interesting and which parts the user doesn't care so much about.

Could also be cool to have a menu item on APK files in NetBeans IDE with the display text "Send to TestFairy!" And then the Upload API would be used to pass the APK to TestFairy:

Watch this space for more info on the NetBeans TestFairy plugin!


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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