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How Tapulous & Apple Handle Quality Assurance

July 17, 2009 by Kohan Ikin

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How do successful companies go about testing their software products? I found this comment by Jessica Kahn, discussing how testing & quality assurance are done at Apple, and also at her new company Tapulous. Jessica Kahn is the Director Of Engineering at Tapulous, and prior to that she worked at Apple for 10 years, including on the Safari web browser team.

"Do we have a separate QA function at Tapulous? The answer is no. A lot of that is basically because we're a scrappy little startup, and so we are very careful about how we spend our money, and we have limits on headcount. So at the moment we don't have the ability to take on a full time QA person.

Some of that though is also of my Apple pedigree. Although there are dedicated QA people at Apple (and they're fantastic), the burden of initial quality assurance in any given product is definitely very heavily placed on the individual engineer at Apple. I don't believe that's a complete substitute for having a professional Quality Assurance engineer - I would love to have one - but I do think you can do a lot as an engineer to test your own code, test your own products, and just build that into the vibe and the religion of your company.

So that's what we're doing right now. And when we get ready to ship a product like Tap Tap Revenge 2 - one of our big ones - the entire company spends probably a whole day testing the app. We all get together and we bang on it as a team. It's great fun. We find the lion's share of problems, but we don't find them all."

- Jessica Kahn, Director Of Engineering, Tapulous Inc.

Tapulous make Tap Tap Revenge, the most-downloaded game on the iPhone App Store as of 2009 (according to Apple, via TechCrunch). TTR itself has 10,000,000 unique installs (according to Tapulous), giving it 32% market penetration of all iPhones & iPod Touch devices (according to comScore). They have 15 employees.

There are lots of other terrific hints and tips in the video this is from: "From Upstart to Startup to Grownup: Lessons Learned in the First Year of an iPhone Company" (iTunes link), which you can download for free from iTunes U as part of Stanford University's iPhone Applications Programming course (CS193P). The course videos are available to everyone - you don't need to be a Stanford student or even a registered Apple iPhone developer to download their course materials & videos.

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