Before your product goes in front of customers, you naturally want to get it tested by the largest number of testers available. This is usually accomplished via alpha builds, closed-beta tests, etc.
Developing and testing for the iPhone is a completely different experience altogether, and present these 2 issues to software developers.
1. Lack of testing devices internally.
While some of us live in cities where seemingly everyone has an iPhone, the fact is most software testing teams are not fully equipped with iOS devices. To make matters worse, every year one or two new products arrive in the iOS family that require significant capital investments for the team.
2. Difficulty in getting testing devices externally before release.
Unless your intended audience is the jail-broken segment, your software product is being developed for a highly controlled environment - iTunes App Store. Just getting your devices properly provisioned internally is difficult enough, getting your app before App Store Approval to outside testers is a nightmare.
Ironically, while it's more difficult to test iOS apps, how it performs in the first few days of availability actually can determine its long term success. Apple has made it so easy to give feedbacks via the App Store, and App Store Feedback is critical in determining sales for paid apps. (trust me, I learned the hard way)
To get around this, developers have resorted to tricks. Some have put a pop-up imploring for positive feedbacks as it will "motivate us to deliver more exciting updates". The problem is that while this strategy might work for someone pleased with the app, for those unhappy with the purchase, there's simply no direct incentive to provide any positive or useful feedback to the developers.
So what if there's a way to encourage iPhone users to deliver positive experiences to the App Store, but provide them with incentive to give the bug and negative usability feedback through another channel, straight to the devs? The solution is Pay4Bugs Mobile Testing.
Before the App is submitted for review, open a Pay4Bugs project, and assign a bounty for user feedback. Within the app, while you make your case that happy users should leave a feedback, make it abundantly clear that if users are unhappy with the app, they can submit bugs on Pay4Bugs.com and get a quick financial reward. When the developers get the bug reports, they can validate it and get it fixed in a timely manner.
Not to mention a few of our Pay4Bugs testers will download the app just because they see your project. Some like the challenge of finding bugs in iPhone Applications for bounty, and better they find it than your users, or worst a reviewer for publication. (learned this the hard way too).
Mission accomplished. Good feedback goes to App Store, poor feedback goes to Pay4Bugs in a developer friendly format, and the user gets paid a bounty for his efforts. Everyone's incentives are aligned.
Check back next week for some usage experiences with clients, as well as our own in house applications.