Google announced some big changes and a variety of exciting new things during this year’s I/O. So what conclusions can we draw from Google I/O 2023 on the topic of app testing?
Several! In this post, we will break down some of the biggest announcements and discuss what they mean for the near future of the mobile app landscape.
Here’s what went down.
What is Google I/O?
Google I/O is an annual developer conference organized by Google. It serves as a platform for Google to announce and showcase its latest innovations, products, and technologies to developers and the tech community. The conference typically features keynote presentations, technical sessions, workshops, and hands-on demonstrations.
At the event, Google unveils new features, updates, and improvements across Google. The event includes exciting discussions on emerging technologies, like AI and VR. In addition to technical sessions and product announcements, Google I/O features talks by industry leaders, discussions on developer tools and best practices, code labs, and opportunities for developers to interact with Google engineers and experts.
Given the huge sway Google has in the mobile app world, the event is a big deal for Android app developers in particular. It can serve as both a reflection of current industry focuses and a barometer of what to expect in app development for the next year. In turn, Google I/O and app testing insight go hand-in-hand. Keep an eye out for Apple’s counterpart to Google I/O, WWDC, which will occur this year on June 5.
AI steals the show
Unsurprisingly, AI made for a major part of the conference. Earlier this year, Google revealed Bard, an AI-powered chatbot meant to rival the better-known ChatGPT. Bard runs on PaLM, Google’s AI language model. Like ChatPT, it can write code, and analyze and solve complete problems, yet unlike ChatGPT, it can access up-to-date information from the internet.
This year, Google announced the release of PaLM2, the next step in Google’s AI language model. It comes with substantially improved multilingual, reasoning, and programming abilities. As Google puts it:
- Multilingual capabilities: “PaLM 2 is more heavily trained on multilingual text, spanning more than 100 languages. This has significantly improved its ability to understand, generate and translate nuanced text — including idioms, poems and riddles — across a wide variety of languages, a hard problem to solve. PaLM 2 also passes advanced language proficiency exams at the ‘mastery’ level.”
- Reasoning: “PaLM 2’s wide-ranging dataset includes scientific papers and web pages that contain mathematical expressions. As a result, it demonstrates improved capabilities in logic, common sense reasoning, and mathematics.”
Developers can also use PaLM2 through PaLM API. The announcement indicates that not just Google but also tech companies in general are continuing to invest heavily in AI, specifically pouring resources into making generative AI technology a core component of big tech operational blueprints.
Android 14 (Upside Down Cake)
Android 14 remains in beta, but is available for new Pixel devices. Expect Upside Down Cake to offer a variety of improvements, like:
- Improved battery Life: Android 14 brings improvements to battery life by allowing developers to optimize battery usage, like restricting file downloads unless connected to WiFi, and better alarm and notification settings to avoid unnecessary background processes. (Battery drain is a serious issue for developers—read more about improving it here)
- Better security: By restricting “sideloading”, or loading apps from other sources besides Google play, Google is placing more emphasis on security.
- Form factor and font size scalability: With bigger devices comes bigger fonts and the need for font scaling. Android 14 introduces more options to apply to bigger devices.
- Regional settings: You can now set regional preferences like Fahrenheit vs Celsius, the first day of the week, and number preference.
- Ultra HDR: Android devices can capture a wider range of colors and contrast than standard JPEG images, all thanks to a new 10-bit HDR image format that captures up to 1 billion colors.
If you’re developing mobile applications on Android, let’s take a look at some other relevant Google announcements:
An AI-driven conversational experience within Android Studio, Google intends for Studio Bot to assist in increasing productivity. This innovative experiment assists in coding, debugging, and provides answers to development queries. However, it’s still in an early stage:
Studio Bot is still an early experiment, and might sometimes provide inaccurate, misleading or false information while presenting it confidently. Studio Bot might give you working code that doesn’t produce the expected output, or provide you with code that is not optimal or incomplete. Always double-check Studio Bot’s responses and carefully test and review code for errors, bugs, and vulnerabilities before relying on it. Studio Bot’s new capabilities can help you by offering new ways to write code, create test cases, or update APIs.“Meet Studio Bot” (Google)
Developers need to be prepared for larger screens
You may be seeing a lot more foldable devices soon. By emphasizing foldables and tablets, the launch of the new Pixel Android devices—the Pixel Fold and the Pixel Tablet—it’s clear that Google is committing to large and foldable screens:
Large foldables, tablets, and desktop devices like Chromebooks – with more active large screen Android devices each year, it’s more important than ever for apps to ensure they provide their users with a seamless experience on large screens. For example, these devices offer more screen space, and users expect apps to do more with that space.“Android Developers Blog: How to optimize your Android app for large screens (And what NOT to do!)” (Google)
This shift comes with new emulator configurations for Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet in Android Studio Hedgehog Canary 3. Additionally, Google has added updates on Material design, along with inspiration for gaming and creativity apps.
Wearables are growing
Wearables may soon also see an increase in popularity. Watch OS active devices have experienced a fivefold increase since the introduction of Wear OS 3. It’s more important than ever to create an exceptional wrist wearing experience. Google unveiled the new Watch Face Format, a collaborative XML format developed in partnership with Samsung. This format simplifies the process of bringing your unique watch face concept to the market. In terms of insight from Google I/O on app testing changes in the near future, his may turn out to be the most important hint at the future.
Jetpack Compose and Flutter
Google’s Jetpack Compose has received numerous updates. Compose for TV is now in alpha, enabling UI development for television screens, while screen widgets with Glance are available in beta. Additionally, Android Studio has introduced new features to enhance productivity, including expanded functionality in App Quality Insights.
The latest Flutter version incorporates a JNI bridge to Jetpack libraries written in Kotlin, allowing direct calls to these libraries from Dart without relying on external plugins.
The Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet and the 7A
Perhaps one of Google’s biggest announcements was the release of the Pixel Fold:
The Google Pixel Fold has a compact form factor measuring 139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1mm when folded, and 139.7 x 158.8 x 5.8mm unfolded. Its design resembles other recently released Pixel devices, thanks to Google’s signature camera visor on the back panel. The camera visor has a metal finish and two cutouts for the camera sensors, but it doesn’t flow over the edges like on the Pixel 7 Pro, presumably to accommodate the hinge and give the phone a cleaner look.“Google Pixel Fold: Price, release date, and everything you need to know” (xda-developers.com)
Foldables are still uncommon to encounter in, for example, the US market. Google also announced the release of the Pixel Tablet, offering an 11-inch LCD display. It comes with Chromecast built in, so users can use their Pixel phones and cast their music or videos directly to the Pixel Tablet when docked.
Considering Google I/O and mobile testing
So, did we learn anything actionable from Google I/O on app testing this year? Ultimately, all this comes down to that it’s never been more important to test on a real device.
The announcements at Google’s I/O 2023 show that smartphone manufacturers will continue to deliver new user experiences. Now, with the first Google foldable phone entering the market in the near future, it’s going to become more important to test for these unique user experiences. Different form factors, different sizes, and different actions—everything will change, and you need to be ready.
And the only way to assure your application runs smoothly on all devices is to test on them.
Keeping it real
It’s no secret that emulators and simulators are unreliable, yet managing a real device lab on your own can be expensive.
You don’t have to compromise. With Sofy, you can test on a live device from Sofy’s cloud-hosted device lab. Every time you acquire a new device, you’re working from a clean instance with your application already installed.
You can then record a manual test case, automate it with a click of a button, and then run it across dozens of devices. You’re able to test multiple versions, screen sizes, and form factors—all without leaving your desktop.
Leveraging AI will make mobile app testing smarter
Google is investing heavily in AI. App developers and testers should follow suit. Doing so will undoubtedly increase productivity, lower resource cost, and increase speed to value. We’ve seen how ChatGPT can help mobile testers write code-based test cases. Earlier this year, Sofy announced the release of SofySense. With SofySense, testers receive real-time, actionable advice on test cases simply by asking SofyBot, an AI assistant powered by OpenAI’s generative AI advances.
The future: No-code!
Abstraction and no-code are still the future of software development. How else do you manage the complex and changing landscape of development? Companies like Google continue to leverage no-code to deliver results faster. With no-code test automation, you can leave scripts out of it. Empowered by Sofy’s no-code platform, you can write an end-to-end UI test without ever conjuring up a line of code. You can easily automate it, schedule tests, and coordinate with your favorite CI/CD tool.
Google’s much anticipated I/O 2023 revealed some pretty cool tools, technologies, and devices. As always, we’re excited for where mobile is headed. But one thing is for sure, innovation never stops. Mobile app developers and testers are wise to be ready.