Developers who want to test their iOS apps with potential users often run into roadblocks, with Apple’s restrictive rules on how they are able to distribute test builds. They often use tools like TestFlight to send out builds, which according to Melbourne-based Kickfolio’s co-founder Edward Dowling isn’t an efficient process. The startup, a recent addition to 500 Startups‘ winter cohort, is out to give developers a whole new platform to test out their apps, and in turn enable them to both get feedback and build prototypes faster. The company is planning to launch in public beta in early December, and has over 500 developers on the waiting list.
“We let you run mobile apps in any web browser so developers don’t have to modify their code or anything like that. They can simply upload a simulator build of their iPhone app and we can run in the cloud and people can use it,” said Dowling in an interview. “It’s pretty amazing technology, we’re starting with the testing product, so making it much simpler for developers to access beta testers and get feedback from them straight away.”
Developers upload a test build of their app onto Kickfolio’s platform, and get a URL for a private testing page they can then share with anyone, and have them test out a completely functional version of the app on their web browser, mobile phone, or tablet devices. Beta testers can write comments on the test page indicating what worked and what didn’t, with Kickfolio taking a screenshot of the app at the moment a user writes a comment to give developers a better idea of what they were looking at and what went wrong.
The company also plans to roll out a feature in the near future which will enable the platform to capture the last 30 seconds of the user’s session leading up the comment for a better understanding of the user experience. “We’re giving developers much greater insight into how they test their app and giving them much better information they can act on,” Dowling added. Kickfolio charges based on the number of apps a given developer is testing on its platform, with prices ranging from $50 per month for up to two apps to $300 for an unlimited amount of apps.
The space for providing mobile app feedback and analytics is heating up with more and more companies recognizing the importance of the user interface and user experience, especially in the initial moments after a user downloads and opens an app. BetaKit recently covered LeanPlum, which provides A/B testing for mobile game developers, and the launch of Apigee’s mobile analytics to help debug apps early in the beta testing process. There’s also Heatmaps, which helps identify where exactly a user touches an app, and there are other mobile analytics and testing players like Flurry, Localytics, and TestFlight.
In addition to the testing component, Kickfolio is also looking to launch an app marketing suite, which will enable developers to embed a functional version of their app on their blogs, or even within a press release, and eventually Dowling envisions being able to embed them into display ads. The company is still working out the finer details, but being a platform to both test and market apps is a greater value-add for developers. It also has Android in mind, however believes that once it launches for iOS, other platforms will be easier to roll out. With mobile developers looking for a more streamlined feedback process, Kickfolio might just become a go-to platform for iOS developers, if it can prove it can help test easier than existing solutions, and give actionable feedback for developers to fine-tune their apps.