Testing iPhone Apps with an Emulator

An emulator is a program that duplicates or mimics the functions of one system on a different system. Emulators exist in many forms and have different uses. An iPhone emulator can be used to test or run apps for the smartphone, and it is of particular importance to app developers. There are various emulators that you can download to test your apps, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we will use MobiOne Studio. MobiOne is one of the most popular programs of its kind and has received high ratings from several critics in the tech industry.

Before you jump into downloading MobiOne, here is a little background on the program.  While MobiOne Studio includes an iPhone emulator and that will be the focus of this tutorial, it also can be used to design iPhone apps and websites.  It allows you to create these without needing to be an expert on code or other highly technical items, and it uses simple drag and drop technology.  MobiOne runs on Windows, so it eliminates the barrier that comes with similar programs like the iPhone SDK which require you to have a Mac.  If you have compatibility concerns, don’t, because MobiOne incorporates support for JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.

Now that you see the additional services MobiOne provides, let’s focus on the testing solutions it can offer.  The program’s iPhone emulator is referred to as the MobiOne Test Center.  On the surface, this feature allows you to click around and test the various parts of your app to make sure that it works properly.  As you go a bit deeper, you will notice that the emulator can also give you more technical details about your app.  You can view the app’s code, its resources, and also troubleshoot any problems that you encounter.  Perhaps the best part of MobiOne is that it allows you to send your app to your iPhone so that you can see how it behaves on the real thing.  Some other emulators do not have this functionality, so you are limited when it comes to seeing your app in its true form.

Downloading and Installing the Emulator

To download MobiOne, visit this link: http://www.genuitec.com/mobile/download.html

Click on the Download Now link to begin.  At the time of this writing, version 1.1 is the latest edition of the program.  Depending on the browser you are using, you will either be asked to save the installer.exe file or run it.  We are using Firefox here, so we will save the binary file.

Once the file has downloaded, locate it and double-click it.  Select Run to begin the installation.  A popup will appear to show that the MobiOne installer is preparing itself.

The MobiOne Studio installation wizard should now appear.  Click Next to continue.

Read over the terms of the license agreement.  Click the small box to accept the terms.  Click Next.

Choose the installation location of the program.  If you do not like the default location, you can change it.  Click Next.

The MobiOne Studio software will begin to install.  It may take a few minutes to install, so be patient. 

After the installation is finished, you should see a message stating that the installation is complete.  By default, the box will be checked to launch the MobiOne Design Center immediately.  Uncheck it if you do not want it to open at this time.  Click Finish.

{mospagebreak title=Testing Your Mobile App}

Now that you have MobiOne downloaded and installed on your computer, you have all your app testing needs at your disposal.  If you do not have your app designed as of yet, you can use the MobiOne Design Center to create one rather easily.  If your app is ready to be tested, open up the MobiOne Test Center.  It can be accessed from your Start menu, or, if you have the Design Center already opened, it can be accessed by clicking the small green icon on the far right of the menu bar at the top of the screen.

In the Test Center, click on File.  Select Open HTML File.  Your app will appear in the emulator automatically if you made it in the MobiOne Design Center.  Otherwise, locate the HTML file on your computer to load it in.

Once your app appears, you can begin testing it in the emulator.  You can rotate it between portrait and landscape mode to see how it looks by clicking on the rotate button in the toolbar at the top of the screen.  You can also see how it reacts to the zoom feature by holding the Ctrl key and using your mouse.  This allows you to mimic pinching and zooming gestures that users would perform on their iPhones.  Click around the app to see how it reacts as well. 

MobiOne offers you plenty of tools to accurately test your app and debug it before sending it to others.  It has a resource monitor, debugger, and much more.  As with any emulator, you want to be able to mock the app’s behavior on the iPhone as much as possible so you can tweak it as needed.

If you are ready to see how your app reacts on your iPhone, you can send it to the smartphone via the Test Center.  Look for the small mail icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen.  Click on it and it will allow you to send the app to your iPhone as either an attachment in an email or a link in a text message.  From there, you can test the app on your iPhone to see its real world behavior.

Other Testing Options

MobiOne is just one example of a solid iPhone emulator that not only covers your testing needs, but also your design necessities.  As mentioned, there are plenty of other emulators on the market that you can choose from.  There are also online emulators that will allow you to test your app through your web browser.  Most of the popular web browsers are supported, although the testing you can accomplish is more limited than in a comprehensive program like MobiOne.

One example of an online emulator is TestiPhone.  All you have to do is navigate to the emulator’s site and enter in the URL of your app in the emulator’s address bar.  Once your app loads, you can click around the emulator to see how it functions.  This is a decent alternative when you want to test an app quickly.  If you really want the best emulator for testing your apps, go the MobiOne route or choose a similar program.







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