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Remote Device Access for Nokia Lumia

When it comes to application testing, running your apps on phones is invaluable. To see the features you observed working in the emulator behaving as you expect on a phone is both rewarding and satisfying, not to mention the reassurance it provides that your app is ready to be unleashed on consumers worldwide. However, maintaining a wide portfolio of current phones may be impractical. Aside from the cost, Nokia phones come in a wide variety of regional and operator variants that simply may not be available in your locality. In addition, as new models are release they may not be available in your area immediately.

This is where Remote Device Access (RDA) comes in. RDA is a free of cost service that provides you, as a registered Nokia Developer, with access to a range of Nokia Lumia smartphones over the internet. RDA then enables you to install and run your apps remotely, interacting with the phone as you would if you had it in your hand.

This section provides an overview to RDA and explains how to access and make use of the service.

The benefits of RDA

The benefits to you as a developer from RDA are:

  • access to a wide variety of current Nokia Lumia smartphones, including Nokia Lumia 920s, Nokia Lumia 820s, and Nokia Lumia 620s.
  • timely access to new models.
  • reduced development costs, because you no longer need to maintain a comprehensive portfolio of phones for testing.
  • the ability to confirm apps behave as expected on a wide variety of phones, not just in the emulator.
  • it's available free of cost.

Getting started

RDA is accessed from the Devices section of the Nokia Developer website and is a web based service for accessing Nokia phones over the internet. To use RDA you will need:

  • a standard web-browser supporting JavaScript (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox).
  • Java Web Start (usually included in the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)). The Java Runtime Environment can be installed from the Java website. The recommended JRE version is 5.0.
  • an internet connection that allows outgoing connections on ports 80 and 1200 to the RDA server host.

You'll need to be signed into Nokia Developer to make use of the service.

What's available

The phones available through RDA change over time, usually with the addition of new models and additional phones of popular models. At the time of writing several Nokia Lumia 920s, Nokia Lumia 820s, and Nokia Lumia 620 were available, as shown in Figure 1. Details of additional phones are announced on the RDA news (accessible from the news item in the home screen) and Twitter feeds.

Figure 1. The RDA home screen showing available Nokia Lumia phones

You can access phones for approximately 8 hours in any one day, and start a session by booking a phone for up to 3 hours in 15 minute increments. You can extend your use of a phone at any time for up to an additional 4 hours, assuming the phone hasn't been booked in advance by another developer. One phone only can be used at a time. You can also book phones in advance, if you are aware of specific future needs, as shown in Figure 2. This is done through the Reservations tab in the RDA home screen.

Figure 2. Reserving a Nokia Lumia 920 for future use

Note: A reset is performed on all Nokia Lumia smartphones after every session. This removes any accounts you may have added and applications you installed.

Using a Nokia Lumia over RDA

When you use a Nokia Lumia over RDA, the RDA desktop opens on your computer and it is through this that you interact with the phone. The desktop, shown in Figure 3, provides an image of the phone's display, buttons for each of the hardware keys on the phone, and a menu and toolbar for accessing the RDA desktop's features.

Figure 3. The RDA desktop running a Nokia Lumia 920

The key features of the desktop and how you use them to test software are described in the following sections. For full details on the features of RDA, please see the RDA User Guide. For information on known issues and limitations for Nokia Lumia phones, please see the RDA page in the Nokia Developer wiki.

Using various display qualities

The high resolution of Windows Phone devices, compared to many of the other phones supported by RDA, mean that a relatively large amount of data need to be sent to keep the phone's screen image in the RDA desktop current. Setting 4 is recommended, but if the performance of the RDA desktop seems slow, reduce the screen quality setting to 3 (only settings 3 and 4 are recommended at the moment). You do this from the menu or the slider at the right of the toolbar, see Figure 4.

Figure 4. The display quality slider in the toolbar

Interacting with the phone

You interact with the phone using your mouse to click and drag in the phone display, by mimicking the actions you would take on a physical phone. For example, a long click on a Live Tile switches the home screen into edit mode. The buttons on the RDA desktop enable you to interact with the phones hardware keys, by clicking the buttons. You can also enter text from your computer keyboard.

Installing your software

You install your software from its XAP file using the install software option on the menu or toolbar. Simply browse for the XAP file on your computer and select it. RDA uploads and installs the file on the phone. Once installed the app or game is available in the app menu or games section as normal.

Taking screenshots and video

You can take screen shots or record an AVI video of the interaction with an app using options on the menu and toolbar.

Changing the display orientation

If your app is designed to work in landscape mode you can rotate the display to get a proper view of your app. This option is on the file menu. Note that this feature doesn't physically rotate the phone, only the display in the RDA desktop, so applications that automatically adjust their layout won't do so in RDA.

Completing your testing

When you have completed your testing and end a session, the phone is automatically reset. This removes any applications you have installed on the phone and removes any Live accounts you have added. This means your development work won't be visible to developers who use the phone after you.

Limitations

While RDA provides you with comprehensive interaction with a Nokia Lumia phone, because the phones are fixed in a single location and you are able to only run one RDA session at a time, there are some limitations on the app features you can test. The limitations are:

  1. NFC features cannot be tested, as you cannot move another phone into proximity with the phone you are using.
  2. Bluetooth receive and share cannot be tested by a single developer. However, Bluetooth communications between two phones can be tested if two developers are using RDA concurrently.
  3. RDA isn't suitable for confirming some aspects of the UI/UX. The dimensions of the display in the RDA desktop maybe much larger than the physical dimension of a phone's display. This means that, for example, content that can be read from the RDA desktop may not be suitably sized for a phone.
  4. You cannot hear any sound produced by the phone. You can however exercise the full range of sound features.
  5. The response from sensors is limited or not available, for example, there is no way to test use of the accelerometers and the magnetometer will return a fixed reading.
  6. You cannot test for changes in screen orientation triggered by movement of the phone.
  7. The GPS chip may return no result or, if a result is returned, it will be for a fixed location.
  8. While the camera can be used to take pictures and video, the recorded image will be of a fixed view. You may also have to switch to the phone's front camera to take and image of video with content, see Figure 5.

Figure 5. The view from the front camera on a Nokia Lumia 920

More information

A user guide for RDA is available here. Details of known issues with the use of RDA with Nokia Lumia phones are provided on the RDA page in the Nokia Developer wiki.


Last updated 12 November 2013

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