Mobile Web testing... What's in my toolkit
When you are developing mobile websites, it is very important to have a rich Toolset that helps you in evaluating your mobile creations. This is not only for yourself, but also to reassure the client that you have the development under completely under control.
Screensizes and browser capabilities can change the look and feel of your site drastically... So better prepare!
Since it is impossible to have all devices, or even a small subset of current popular devices by hand, you will have to rely on simulators of the different mobile platforms. Luckily mobile phone manufacturers have done enormous efforts to make their platforms easy to test and there is a plethora of solutions available. Not only do they allow you to test on your PC, the quality of these tools is also very high and are very reliable...
So this is the overview of my simulator toolkit. I need a windows PC and a MAC to get everything running... Using Virtual machines or dual boots, you can of course obtain the same results.
- iPhone Simulator (Mac OSX)
- The iPhone simulator is often my starting point due to the ease of setup (certainly when you are still developing locally). And it is also my main demonstrator tool when facing clients (we all want it to work on the iPhone)! However, you will have to have a Mac and create an account in order to get the Simulator. Apple also has some good development docs to help you understand the capabilities of the Safari browser that is running on the iPhone.
- Android Simulator
- Probably more important then the iPhone emulator, the Android emulator let's you test on Android devices using different versions of Android, and also using several screen sizes. This covers the Samsung, HTC, Motorola, ... devices powered by Android (and as we learn, this will be the majority of devices soon)
- Palm Pre Simulator
- A less popular device, but still relevant to do some testing. If your site runs well on the android and iphone, you will not have many surprises here. Certainly check out their help pages (and observer their ugly Joomla!url structures ;))
- Blackberry Simulators (Windows only)
- Blackberry has done enormous efforts to provide good documentation and tools to their developers. For each device you will find a simulator. With the latest family of Blackberry (Torch) now having a full blown Webkit browser on board, we see better adoption for html5 and css3. Blackberry also has a great overview on the browser capabilities. Probably the best docs you can get on browser capabilities.
- Nokia Remote Device Access
- Nokia has chosen a different path then the other phone manufacturers. Instead of bringing out simulators, Nokia has created a device bank service. This means that they have actual devices running that you can reserve and where you can test on. An enormous amount of Nokia devices is available. This gives a unique chance to test your website on some lower end devices. (Don't forget to check the sites the previous visitor has tested... Phones don't seem to be resetted, so be aware of that!)
- Opera Mini Simulator
- Opera Mini is one of the most used mobile browsers in the world. It has an enormous market share on lower end mobile devices, and will give you a good feel on how your website will perform on these devices. If you have an android device at hand, you can also just download the Opera Mini app.
Although this list is far from complete in terms of Devices testing software, having these tools available on your PC gives you a very good basis to start testing your mobile site and to show your results to your clients.
There are also commercial software tools available such as Device Anywhere where you can test your mobile website on real devices. Device anywhere charges you per hour. And of course, having a real device by the hand can help you a lot!
Share your tools with us!