Selecting the Right Android Tablet for Testing Your Apps

Today, with a “boom” in the tablet making industry, many options for tablets are available in the market running on android platform having different hardware configurations and different intuitive UI’s by different makers. Because of these so many options available, the app developers are confused and can’t possibly decide which tablet to purchase for testing purposes. Here are tips on making your Android tablet selection.


Tablets for testing

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For apps to look good on Android tablets, right from the stage of beginning the process of app development it’s important to test the look and feel on these larger devices. Tablets are not just scaled up phone displays — the additional space can offer a much richer user experience, if the developer takes full advantage of it.

The developers need to be selective as so many different hardware options are available that you can’t possibly purchase them all and most developers will likely benefit most from using the emulator and starting with a small number of tablets. Though if you try the other way round, then the pile of devices that you’ll be needing to test your app is going to look like this:


 Smartphone vs tablet usage

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Categories/families of tablets

Numerous models are available in the market presented by various big vendors. So as to shorten this big number game, you can eliminate the older models from most vendors, leaving you with a smaller set of tablets to consider. As per me buying the tablet whose configuration belongs to the latest generation will likely be the most effective, even if the previous device has a larger user base. With the release of new products, the balance changes continuously in the market and the user base. Launch of a more recent device continues to become more relevant, whereas an older device increasingly represents a diminishing user base. Though that still leaves a number of tablet vendors to choose from.

Another wrinkle coming in the selection of the tablets is the fact of the app stores present outside of Google Play. I generally ignore the abstruse vendors that run their own app ecosystem. But the Amazon’s Kindle Fire line and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are two options that do bear merit. A relatively large fleet of users are allowed access in these stores due to their retail presence and a very smaller set of device configuration are to be worried about for the purpose of selection.

So that leaves me with the following three main configurations that I want to be able to test:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire
  • Google (e.g., the Nexus 7 or another brand tablet)
  • Nook

By getting one device which represents one from each of those categories, it’ll give the developers to a large cross-section of Android tablet users.

Emulator options and considerations

Emulation is extremely slow and sometimes can be frustrating for the developers too. The configurations to be pursued, takes time to decide. There are quite a few options to emulate tablets and, unless you are collecting one of each device, it is likely that you’ll need to emulate some devices. The much lower cost of creating and maintaining these virtual devices can be deceptive.

But the good news is that the specialized addition to the emulator has been released by Amazon and Nook that makes the virtual device behave similarly to the real device. Amazon, GoogleBarnes & Noble have given up instructions on their pages which are to be followed by developers so as to start these emulators provided by them for specific devices. And with the recent release of the Android Virtual Device (AVD) Manager directly creating named devices such as the Nexus 7 is now possible. Even when you buy physical hardware; there is a solid place in your testing strategy for virtual devices.


Tablets price comparison

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Price and Benefits of buying a certain brand of tablet

The developers should evaluate the tablets based upon what business need is to be fulfilled and not from the consumers perspective who has an entirely different set of needs. What others tout as the best tablet to buy might not be the “best” tablet for your organization. If business makes purchases to save time and gain an advantage, small differences in the price of tablets shouldn’t drive decisions. The important thing to gain is to save hours of the developers time and hence access the precisely right hardware independent of the price which has to be shelled out for buying of the tablet as long as it solves the purpose.

Jitin Narang

By Jitin NarangJitin Narang is VP - Alliances at TechAhead Software, a leading Mobile & Web Application Development company which helps brands to reach, connect, and interact with their audience through web and mobile effectively. You can contact him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. Read all articles written by him Reach us for Custom Mobile Applications (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows) and Web Applications (Open Source, Dot Net,Java ) requirements.