DeviceAnywhere and O2 have teamed up to provide up to 30 free hours to mobile developers to test their software on all the devices they want to. I had bumped DeviceAnywhere at the BlackBerry Developer Conference as they were simultaneously announcing membership with the ISV Alliance Program. In a nutshell, these guys hook up devices from carriers worldwide inside these boxes which then allow users to have remote control of the device. These users can then load up software and navigate and do everything they could do with the phone in a web interface as if they had it in their hands. After they’re done, the device can be wiped and reset to scratch, ready for someone else to test.
It’s a step up from pure software simulators in that you’re getting the real image from a real device somewhere, and the service has a bunch of features to help testing go easier, like queuing up programs to test on multiple device overnight, and video screen capture. Developers aren’t the only ones winning out by being able to test on a wide range of phones from many carriers – the carriers themselves save a lot of hassle by offering this service instead of issuing loaners and having to recall them. It even helps carriers let software developers test on unreleased devices, and reduce risk caused camera-happy bloggers in the neighbourhood. (Drat.)
I mean, a part of me thinks it’s a little perverse – you can’t help but imagine extensive prisons where rows upon rows of these poor, suffering phones are restrained and hooked up to an elaborate hive mind allowing far and away tormentors to wreck what havoc they will, only to blank their memory and do it all over again. But hey, that’s just me.