Mobile Testing Lessons Learned By The Pokemon GO Phenomenon

Pokemon GO Phenomenon: Mobile Testing Lessons Learned

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By now, everyone has heard about the new Pokemon GO mobile app. There have been plenty of Pokemon GO stories about Americans going 'Ahab' for the game, which combines a range of functions to send users out into the real world on a scavenger hunt of sorts to 'catch 'em all.' But, was the mobile testing effort thorough enough?

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Pokemon GO is making a tremendous splash in the mobile app gaming community, all the while proving that one successful mobile app deployment can significantly improve a company’s financial performance. 

"Pokemon GO can be viewed as an intimidating project."

Eagle Radio reported that Nintendo's shares have skyrocketed by nine percent as a direct result of the game's release in Japan and America. It also added $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value in two days, according to Reuters. Wow.

From a mobile app testing perspective, Pokemon GO could easily be viewed as an intimidating project. Let’s take a look at how this mobile app is changing the game, so to speak. 

Combining popular mobile app features

Although the app has features and functions similar to those of existing apps, this one is a bit more intense. Entertainment Weekly reported that the now No. 1 free app on the Apple Store combines augmented reality, interactive functionality, mobility and more into one powerful game. The source pointed out that the makers of the game decided to place Pokemon in and around landmarks across the country, which users can visit to find the Pokemon characters they desire. This is obviously a very clever utilization of GPS "pins" that act as markers on the maps of mobile phone owners. 

With such an advanced app like Pokemon GO, app testers need to up their game to make sure the app works properly for all users:

  • GPS integration: The app must be compatible with the phone’s GPS, meaning testers had to measure its interoperability with a range of popular devices. 
  • Experience management: Augmented reality is no joke. In fact, it's among the most challenging trends in mobile apps. Pokemon GO users will expect a seamless, user-friendly experience. 
  • Interactivity: All of the features combine to provide a highly interactive experience, with imaginary images of Pokemon sitting in front of the user and only viewable on their phone. 
  • Traffic: Because of the game's immense popularity, testers must have had to go above and beyond with respect to surge usage in certain areas and heavy traffic right from the start.

Mobile testing could have been better

As a note, the game's server was down for several days straight, so that shows a bit more testing might have been in order. I can’t be sure what exactly caused the outage but perhaps the Pokemon Go app development team didn’t anticipate the viral adoption, or perhaps they didn’t anticipate or test against all the various user environments. This is a great example of where real user condition testing would have helped the team.

Check out the slides above from our recent webinar “Why Apps Succeed: 4 Keys to Winning the Digital Quality Game”

Mobile app story of the year?

More likely than not, Pokemon GO will be the biggest mobile app of 2016. Sure, there’s still a half a year left, but the game's reception has been unprecedented thus far. Mobile app developers and testers – as well as those who bankroll such projects – should keep up with this story as it progresses to learn lessons about to the challenges of this scale of an advanced mobile app like Pokemon GO. 

How will you test your mobile apps this year as they become more complex?

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Shane is Perfecto's Content Marketing Manager. He oversees the company's content production, including the corporate blog, white papers, podcasts and infographics. Shane brought with him to Perfecto 12 years of technology journalism experience in roles such as Managing Editor for InformationWeek and Assistant Managing Editor and Senior Writer at where his writing garnered an ASBPE Award for his blog, "Eye on Microsoft" and a min Editorial & Design Award. You can find Shane obsessing over mobile technology, sports and pop culture on Twitter @smoneill.

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