Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Facebook uses thousands of smartphones to test its apps

Android and iOS may rule the mobile world, but developing apps for these platforms isn't as easy as some people may think. And you just need to look at Facebook's app testing system to realize just how complex it can be.

The problem is that you don't have just a single Android or iOS platform. Both have a growing number of devices (more so on Android of course) making it nearly impossible to know if an app that runs well on the latest high-end device won't grind to an halt - or even fail to run - on a older device. That's an inconvenience for a small developers, but's it's absolutely essential for giants like Facebook, and that's why it resorts to thousands of smartphones to test its apps.

Facebook keeps dozens of racks with dozens of devices each, ranging from the latest smartphones to devices several years old; and in each rack there's a camera that can track how each smartphone is handling specific versions of an app. This way Facebook says it can identify updates that can make the app run 1% slower than the previous version, and try to change it so it doesn't adversely impact performance (or power usage).

... It's all very nice to hear. But, with so much concern with performance, even in old device, how can Facebook explain its Android app to be a complete disaster?

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