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Rollout Rolls Out Mobile App Features in a New Way

Rollout.io today announced a new way to roll out features to iOS mobile apps by targeting different groups of users to try out changes before widespread distribution.

That capability comes with a brand-new tool announced today called ROX, which includes integrated analytics functionality that developers can use to gauge how well new features work before rolling them out to the entire user base. The analytics capability can measure app health as well as business metrics such as key performance indicators (KPI).

"ROX gives mobile app developers the ability to selectively deliver new features to subsets of users before deciding if these feature are ready to be deployed across all users," CEO Erez Rusovsky said in a blog post today. "ROX monitors the performance of those features and can make intelligent, data-driven recommendations about further deployment."

Rather than providing individual builds to test out against different user groups -- as is done in A/B testing -- the ROX tool simply takes an app with a fully featured codebase and turns selected features on or off for different audiences.

"This allows both the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace (support coming soon) to approve all code ahead of time and allows features that are buggy or that do not deliver on business goals to be disabled without the need for hot patching or emergency expedited releases," Rusovsky said.

Rollout cited an online store scenario as an example in which a new shopping cart capability can be tested. "Through Rox by Rollout, the new feature can be delivered to a small percentage of users to ensure that the feature is healthy (without bugs or significant usability issues) and that the feature delivers on business goals (increased purchase or checkout)," the company said in a news release. "Based on this intelligence, developers can more widely deploy the feature, or choose to turn it off entirely and retool should issues arise."

While such feature testing can be done with homegrown tools, that has primarily been the provenance of only the largest of app development teams that can draw upon enormous resources, Rusovsky said. So the ROX tool, he continued, not only improves on the approach by adding automation and intelligent analytics, but also democratizes the approach so it can be used by smaller dev teams.

Those smaller dev teams will have to pony up $500 a month for ROX, though a 30-day trial demo is available.

The company plans on adding Android support in the future, along with an enterprise edition of its software. A Web site FAQ also indicates that free plans for non-profit, academic or open source projects are in the works.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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