Say Hello to the first Mobile Test Pilot study

Jono

18

After many months of development and testing, I’m pleased to announce that we have finally released the first version of Test Pilot for mobile Firefox.  This add-on will let users of mobile Firefox participate for the first time in quantitative usability studies to help improve Firefox design, the same way that users of Test Pilot for desktop Firefox have been able to do since 2009.

Mobile Test Pilot is not bundled with beta versions of mobile Firefox at this time.  To participate in studies, you can download the add-on from addons.mozilla.org to your Android device. (The easiest way to do this is to go to the control panel, click the Add-ons tab, scroll down to “Get Add-ons”, and search for “test pilot”.)

The mobile version follows the same privacy policy as the desktop version. That means that you are anonymous; Test Pilot collects no personally-identifiable data, and does not record what sites you visit or what search terms you searched for.

Mobile Test Pilot is very stripped-down compared to desktop Test Pilot.  Almost all of the UI is gone, as is much of the code.  It will show an Android notification when a study needs your permission to submit.  Or you can even turn the notifications off by enabling auto-submit (through the Add-ons manager, under Test Pilot options) and then you’ll never even notice that Test Pilot is there.

Screenshot of mobile Test Pilot options screen

Developing for the small screen is an excellent exercise in minimalism.  It’s shown me that I can do away with even more UI cruft than I thought possible.  Honestly, we could replace desktop Test Pilot with a port of the mobile version and it would probably be an improvement. Less is more!

Of course the Test Pilot extension is nothing without a study to run.  Simultaneously with the extension we have also released the first study for mobile Firefox, the Mobile Heatmap study.  Inspired by the desktop Firefox heatmap, this study will simply count the times a user interacts with each element of the mobile Firefox UI.  We’ll use this data to get a very general overview of how people are using mobile Firefox, identify the most and least used interface elements, and see if there are controls that are frequently used together.  I hope this basic study will be a starting point to inspire many follow-up studies that explore particular questions in greater depth.

Chart of the data collected for one user by the Mobile Heatmap study

Because smartphones and tablets are only a few years old, there are many more unanswered questions in the field of smartphone and tablet UX than in desktop software UX.  Designers are just beginning to figure out the best ways to design for small screens and multi-touch input.  I feel like there are more opportunities here for original research that can lead the way to better designs, and I hope that this study will be the first of many to help us create the mobile software interactions of the future.

If you’re using Firefox on an Android smartphone or tablet, please download Test Pilot today and help us improve the product by anonymously sharing your usage data.  (And of course, let us know about bugs that you find or studies that you would like to see.)  Thank you!

18 responses

  1. Jinghua Zhang wrote on :

    I have to give a big big round of applauds on this. Jono has been working solo on Test Pilot extensions for a long time, and all of us around him know how difficult it was to get these releases out of the door (all these code reviews, QA, bugs, FX release schedules, add-on bar changes, different platforms, security and performance reviews etc.) It required a lot of patience, passion, responsibility and coordination to carry these work forward. Without Jono, we couldn’t build our research platform to receive quantitative data.

    We also want to give our appreciation to whoever helped us on these releases, thank you for sending us your feedback in the discussion group, reporting bugs and messaging us on twitter. Thank you, guys, we really appreciate your help!

  2. Mark Finkle wrote on ::

    Great work Jono! I’m very happy to see Test Pilot on Firefox Mobile. Time to start my first study :)

  3. Mike De Petris wrote on ::

    A short comment: WELL DONE!

  4. Piyush Mishra wrote on :

    I am excited about the first pilot study..
    well i would like to say thanks to jono for his hard work and determination

  5. Sunday wrote on ::

    good job~
    Love Firefox~

  6. Pingback from Mobile Heatmap Results | Mozilla User Research on ::

    [...] It’s time to share the results of the Test Pilot Mobile Heatmap study launched last month. [...]

  7. Julia Thompson wrote on :

    I have an HP Touchpad. Can I use this on the Touchpad?

    1. Jono wrote on ::

      Hi Julia,
      I think the HP Touchpad runs an operating system called WebOS, is that right? At the moment, mobile Firefox only works on Android (and some Linux devices). Sorry.
      –Jono

  8. art thompson wrote on :

    I’m in. just got a toshiba thrive and was thrilled to see FF for tablets.
    A few things aren’t working right, but thanks for all of the hard work.

  9. Elmer Stenger wrote on :

    I don’t have the equipment needed, so there’s no use in going further.

    Thanks for the invitation

  10. Alexandru wrote on :

    Hello. I have a question: I own a nokia n9. Can I use the mobile mozilla on Meego v1.2 hartaman? I need flash support on my browser. Tks

    1. Jono wrote on ::

      Hi Alexandru,
      I don’t think Mozilla currently supports Meego, but some Googling turned up this community-supported unofficial build of Firefox for Meego: http://my-meego.com/software/applications.php?fldAuto=18&faq=9

      I don’t know whether it includes Flash support or not. If Adobe doesn’t support Flash for Meego, then switching browsers won’t help.

      Anyway, in the future you’d probably get better results asking questions like this on support.mozilla.org rather than here on the user research blog.

      Good luck.

  11. Ann wrote on :

    I’m curious as to how you will be able to discover the things we would have done if the interface allowed but which weren’t possible.
    Being dissatisfied with the current webkit and opera on my android, I reckon I may try your test pilot :-)
    There, my main issue right now is with drop-downs and scrolling in search – seems like pop-up notifications are favoured over selection from history.
    Just one other thing…which permissions does it require?

    1. Jono wrote on ::

      Hi Ann,
      It sounds like you’re asking about installing mobile Firefox. (Test Pilot, which this blog post is about, is just an add-on for mobile Firefox.)
      You can find out about mobile Firefox from the Android Marketplace page: https://market.android.com/details?id=org.mozilla.firefox&hl=en
      According to that page, the permissions it wants are: USB and SD storage, full internet access, and fine GPS. (The latter is because a web page such as Google Maps might ask for your GPS location and the browser needs to be able to provide it if you say yes.)
      Test Pilot doesn’t require any additional permissions beyond what Firefox has. It can be installed from the Add-ons Manager tab in the Firefox config screen, if you’re interested in participating.

  12. Doudounes Moncler pas cher wrote on ::

    Test Pilot doesn’t require any additional permissions beyond what Firefox has. It can be installed from the Add-ons Manager tab in the Firefox config screen, if you’re interested in participating.

  13. Ionut Pop wrote on :

    Short question: Can I become a test pilot in order to help Firefox? I would be very happy to be a volunteer!

    1. Ionut Pop wrote on :

      Could somebody please answer my question? I’m waiting for a long time ago and nobody answers my request.

      Thank you.

  14. Hinz wrote on ::

    Really great work! I would like to say thanks for your hard work at the mobile Firefox.