App Quality Alliance (AQuA), the non-profit organization backed by some of the major players from mobile, has launched what it’s calling the “first ever quality app directory.”

Just to recap, AQuA emerged from the ashes of The Unified Testing Initiative back in August, as it sought a “deeper commitment to quality in app development”. It’s run and funded by AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Oracle, Orange, Samsung and Sony Mobile.

The Quality App Directory has been developed in close consultation with mobile app developers, and is claiming to be an independent and free resource for developers to upload details of apps – either self-tested or tested by an approved body – to gain accreditation and recognition for their good QA practice.

directory app image 520x329 Mobile industry backed App Quality Alliance launches its Quality App Directory for developers

So the idea here is that only apps that meet a certain standard will be included in the directory, but it’s worth stressing that this isn’t another app store – you can’t download apps from here. It’s purely a directory for interested parties to glean further information about an app, and for developers to claim that their work has been AQuA verified. It’s like a seal of approval.

It’s also worth noting that there is a little room for wriggling, as developers themselves can sign the terms and conditions which stipulate they will only upload app details that have met these standards, though AQuA will conduct an audit periodically for the self-verified apps. This is all entirely funded by AQuA’s backers, so there’s no cost attached for developers themselves.

While developers can submit self-tested apps based on AQuA’s testing criteria and receive entry-level accreditation, they can also choose one of four test houses to accredit their app, for an “independent” accreditation – these are: Babel Media, Intertek, Sogeti High Tech and VMC Consulting. The cost of testing an app using one of the independent bodies depends on which body is used and the nature of the app, but here’s a rough guide:

  • Approximate cost of testing content within a framework (e.g. a tour guide for Italy as part of a series of tour guides built in the same way): $40/€31.
  • Approximate cost of testing a typical simple app (e.g. a sports news and scores reporting app): $150/€116.
  • Approximate cost of testing a complex app (e.g. an integrated business mileage tracker): $250 /€193.

Where an AQuA member has tested an app themselves, these will gain the status of AQuA Member Verified. Developers who achieve consistent accreditation across a series of apps will attain ‘trusted developer’ status.

So…what IS the standard?

AQuA, with industry input, has compiled a set of testing criteria for Android, though other platforms will be added in due course. The criteria is focused mainly on usability and application behaviour within the mobile device, but will be expanded to cover other areas relating to battery life, privacy, network usage and more. Interestingly, it doesn’t look at the usefulness or function of the app in question, so this is entirely about usability and whether it actually works.

“In today’s fast growing app market, the three ingredients for success are innovation, quality in delivery and effective marketing,” says Martin Wrigley, Chairman, AQuA, and Director of Developer Service at Orange. “AQuA has always supported quality in delivery and with the directory we are also supporting the effective marketing of developers’ quality apps.”

A beta trial kicked off in February 2012 with developers and test houses who flagged a number of points, and this resulted in many of the suggested changes for the first release today.

Image Credit – SIMON MAINA/Getty Images