Google just announced at I/O that it has acquired Appurify, a startup that lets developers automate testing and optimization of their mobile apps and websites. Appurify will stay open as freemium cross-platform service but get a big boost in distribution as it becomes integrated into the Google developer tool stack.
Appurify’s big value add is helping developers handle fragmentation. It permits wide-scale testing on a big range of gadgets, so devs can catch bugs and other performance issues on devices they can’t test on themselves.
That’s an especially big deal for Android. Apple CEO Tim Cook jabbed Google at WWDC earlier this month, quoting a ZDnet article saying the fragmentation issue makes Android a “toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities”. But beyond security, just making sure apps run properly on devices from different OEMs with various operating systems and screen sizes is a challenge.
Appurify gives Google an in-house testing service it can point developers to. The service will slot in amongst a variety of Google development tools like Android Studio and Google Cloud Messaging.
Appurify has raised a total of $6.3 million from investors including Google Ventures, making it another example of Google investing before it acquires companies. Data Collective, Radar Partners, Felicis Ventures, and Foundation Capital also invested in both Appurify’s 2012 seed round and $4.5 million Series A from March 2013.
Google Play manager Ellie Powers came out on stage to announce the acquisition. She explained that “You’ve told us that testing can be painful and we want it to be easy…Appurify is leading the way in replicating how you app performs in the real world and we’re excited to help them further scale and bring their expertise to your app development process.”
Along with testing across devices, Appurify can also make sure apps run all over the world, even on shotty connections in emerging markets. Powers explained “Appurify’s service can simulate a specific mobile network, and can even simulate what happens if the connection is weak or drops out completely.” This feature makes Appurify like an open, software version of Facebook, Ericsson, and Internet.org’s physical “Innovation Lab” for testing across weak international networks.
In its blog post announcing the move, Appurify says “For our existing customers, Appurify’s tools for mobile developers will continue to be available for the time being. Longer term, we look forward to working closely with our new colleagues to incorporate our tools into Google’s developer platform.”
Google’s purchase of Appurify makes Apple’s testing toolset seem incomplete. Apple acquired Testflight last year and just rolled out a new way to launch beta versions of iOS apps. But Testflight focuses on usability testing with real humans while Appurify gives Google’s developer clients more automated ways to investigate backend, connectivity, and fragmentation issues as well.
With Google’s help, Appurify could make Android’s ‘toxic hellstew’ easier for developers to swallow.