Building and Managing a Robust Device Library

Testing websites and applications for a variety of clients requires hundreds of devices, so we’ve been building and managing a robust device library. As our company has grown over the past fourteen years, so has our device library; we’ve had to ensure that we keep each device up to date and secure so it’s always ready for testing.

Here’s a look at how we build and manage our device library.

Building and Maintaining a Device Library

The Space

When we moved to our current lab, one of the main selling points was the secure room in the middle of the office. Decently sized, it came fireproofed and complete with rolling shelves. We added more outlets, creating a space where we can store all of our devices safely and securely. 

Two shelves in PLUS QA's device lab. On the left is the iOS device shelf and on the right is the Android device shelf.

We have organized the device library by operating system and type of device. It features one shelf for all iOS devices, one shelf for all Android devices, and shelves along the wall for the laptops used for testing. We leverage clear organization and labeling throughout the space to allow testers to easily locate and use the devices needed for testing.

Smartphones

iPhone 13s lined up on a desk, facedown

When selecting which smartphones we should include in our device library, we look at the most popular iOS and Android devices each year and use that data to help us make informed decisions on the best choices for our clients’ needs. We also collect data and use our experience with testing to help identify which devices will need duplicates, such as new iPhones, and which can be purchased once, such as the Galaxy Z Flip3. 

We’ve also developed a custom, remotely accessible version of our device library, where our testers can access a selection of real devices from off-site. Read more about how we set that up here.

Computers

Laptops on shelves seen from above, with a PLUS QA sticker and some details about the laptop on the cover. Multiple laptops on a well in the device library at PLUS QA.

We perform testing for a variety of websites and apps, on both mobile and desktops. To test common user scenarios, we have a variety of laptops, ranging from the most recent MacBooks to older Windows laptops. The MacBooks range in OS, going as far back as Catalina, and we even have Windows 7 laptops available for testing. 

We also have a wealth of Windows desktops from multiple manufacturers and iMacs from 2014 to 2022, ranging from older to more recent operating systems. We test both website and desktop applications, so it’s essential to maintain a diverse and expansive library of desktop and laptop workstations.

VR Devices

VR devices on a shelf in the PLUS QA device library A QA tester utilizing a VR device for testing.

Though we perform most of our testing on mobile devices and computers, we do additional testing on other devices.  For example, we have acquired a small VR device library. It features a variety of VR devices, from the Samsung Gear to the new Oculus Quest. We even have a space set up for VR testing. Check out our blog about how we set up our VR/AR testing space to learn more about VR testing and our experience with it.

AR and VR are becoming more mainstream within the gaming industry, as more games are introduced for headsets or as aspects of mobile games. Valuates Reports indicate that the AR/VR market size was valued at $14.84 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $454.73 Billion by 2030, so it’s an industry that is expected to grow.

Wearables/IoT Devices

Various iOT and wearable devices on a table.

In 2021, global shipments of wearables were 533.6 million units, up 20 percent YOY. Wearable devices are popular and only gaining popularity, and it’s becoming more necessary to test their compatibility with popular apps.

IoT devices are also on the rise. We use devices like streaming boxes, Bluetooth headphones, and WiFi routers for testing. Wearables and IoT Devices require specific testing conditions. Learn more about the challenges of IoT testing and streaming applications/platforms on our blog.

Managing a Device Library

Ensuring Security

Here at PLUS QA, we have a dedicated team of testers working in a regulated and compliant environment. We employ strict, secure procedures to ensure the highest level of confidentiality throughout the testing process. After completing testing each day, testers are required to clear all apps, screenshots, console logs, browsing history, cookies, cache, and other locally stored data from our devices and workstations.

As we transitioned to having more of our employees working from home, our security procedures changed too. Read more about that in Our Successful Transition to Working From Home.

Tracking Device Use

PLUS QA's Test Platform on the devices page, showing some details about the devices in the library and how we manage them

For most of our history, we’ve focused on in-house testing, which allows for the best security on both the devices and the applications, websites, etc., that we test. However, with the onset of the pandemic, we had to transition to working from home. Suddenly, our vast library of devices needed to be taken off-site, and tracking them became more necessary. 

We developed our proprietary test management system, Test Platform, and incorporated our checkout system into the web application. Using Test Platform, testers can easily identify the device they are utilizing and check in or check out those devices as needed. Project managers can also search for each team to see what devices testers have or might need.

Staying Relevant

In addition to purchasing new devices to stay relevant, we have to update device OSs as they become more relevant. When a new OS is released, we upgrade a few devices to test applications and websites for early adopters. Once there is a perceived growth in the adoption rate for a particular OS, we’ll update more devices progressively to accommodate the change, paying close attention to OS usage statistics throughout the year. Because not everyone updates their devices to newer OS, we continue to maintain a collection of devices installed with each of the most recent/popular operating systems.

Conclusion

A lot goes into building, maintaining, and managing a robust device library with hundreds of mobile and desktop devices. We’ve been steadily growing our library of devices since we began testing in 2008 on the very first iPhones. As a result, we’ve learned a lot along the way. 

Creating a secure space for the devices, keeping in mind client needs and expectations when purchasing new devices, having a way to track those devices, and being able to plan device coverage easily, are all vital aspects of creating a successful device library. It can be challenging, but the benefits of having and using real devices for testing greatly outweigh the costs. Having hundreds of devices helps us deliver high-quality testing services to our clients, ensuring high-quality products for their users.

If you’d like to learn more about our devices or work with us for QA testing, reach out to us!

A macbook on the Chrome download screen, next to an iPhone on the Safari information page, demonstrating two of the top browsers for 2022, on both desktop and mobile