Supporting and Maintaining Mobile Applications Android

Generally speaking, mobile application support requirements are minimal if you come from a traditional software background, but they do exist. Carriers and operators generally serve as the front line of technical support to end users. As a developer, you aren’t usually required to have 24/7 responsive technical support staff or toll-free device numbers and such. In fact, the bulk of application maintenance can fall on the server side and be limited to content maintenance—such as posting new media such as ringtones, wallpapers, videos, or other content.

That said, the hardware on the market changes quickly, and mobile development teams need to stay on top of the market. Here are some of the maintenance and support considerations unique to mobile application development.

Track and Address Crashes Reported by Users

The Android Market—the most popular way to distribute Android applications—has built-in features enabling users to submit crash and bug reports regarding your application. Monitor your developer account and address these issues in a timely fashion in order to maintain your credibility and keep your users happy.

Testing Firmware Upgrades

Android handsets receive frequent (some say too frequent) firmware upgrades. This means that the Android platform versions you initially tested and supported become obsolete and the handsets your application is installed upon can suddenly run new versions of the Android firmware. Although upgrades are supposed to be backward compatible, this hasn’t always proven true. In fact, many developers have fallen victim to poor upgrade scenarios, in which their applications suddenly cease to function properly. Always retest your applications after a major or minor firmware upgrade occurs in the field.

Maintaining Adequate Application Documentation

Maintenance is often not performed by the same engineers who developed the application in the first place. Here, keeping adequate development and testing documentation, including specifications and test scripts, is even more vital.

Managing Live Server Changes

Always treat any live server and web or cloud service with the care it deserves. This means you need to appropriately time backups and upgrades. You need to safeguard data and maintain user privacy at all times. You should manage rollouts carefully because live mobile application users might rely on its availability. Do not underestimate the serverside development or testing needs. Always test server rollouts and service upgrades in a safe testing environment before “going live.”

Identifying Low-Risk Porting Opportunities

If you’ve implemented the device database we previously talked about in the chapter, now is the ideal time to analyze device similarities to identify easy porting projects. For example, you might discover the following: An application was originally developed for a specific class of device, but now there are several popular devices on the market with similar specifications. Porting an existing application to these new devices is sometimes as straightforward as generating a new build (with appropriate versioning) and testing the application on the new devices. If you defined your device classes well, you might even get lucky and not have to make any changes at all when new devices come out.

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