Software Testing

Test for Real Life

“Most of us are anxious pretty much all the time – but frequently imagine that other people aren’t. It’s time to admit the truth. Anxiety is just a basic fact about being human.”

~ Alain de Botton

We are all human, we are all worried and anxious pretty much all the time, people just don’t tell you that they are. We wear masks and we hide it well.

But why do we test like we’re not anxious or worried? Why don’t we test for real life?

A few years ago I was once at a large conference in San Francisco when mid-way through a presentation a modal dialog calendar reminder popped up on the screen for the presenter’s Gynaecology appointment the following day. We’re all human and it was hard not to giggle when it happened, as most of the audience did. As the presenter quickly dismissed the dialog I imagined that the presenter felt pretty anxious/embarrassed about that happening. But we shouldn’t have to be anxious about such things happening, and things like that don’t have to happen.

We’ve probably all seen a similar thing happen, someone is presenting content on a screen to people and a chat window or something might pop up with “Hello Darling” or some such message which causes the presenter to frantically shut down their chat client or IM program in embarrassment.

Since then People at Apple designed and tested for real life and added a default setting to macOS which means when you’re plugged into a projector or a TV your Mac automatically goes into Do Not Disturb mode so no dialogs will pop-up with anything like that, they are quietly ignored. Millions of people suffer less anxiety by adding that default setting in macOS.

Do not disturb when mirroring
macOS Do Not Disturb settings

I’m often anxious about my the battery on my iPhone and making sure I have enough battery to get through the day, particularly when I am travelling.

When I want to quickly open a system preference I use 3D Touch and this appears:

ios settings force touch
iOS settings 3D Touch

Do you notice the battery icon? Every time I open this dialog I feel anxious about my battery having ~20% charge.  But at the time I took that screenshot my phone had 90% battery! The icon doesn’t reflect real life.

The person at Apple who tested that didn’t test it for real life. Real life that is full of worry and anxiety.

Testing for real life means testing for human empathy, imagining how someone feels as they use your software. What worries do they have? How do they feel? How can you not make things any worse than they already are?

Let’s test for real life.


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