EddieC 0 Posting Whiz in Training

Among the obstacles to building mobile software is gaining access to the devices for testing. Removing some of those road blocks is DeviceAnywhere, which today launched the Palm Virtual Developer Lab, adding the new Treo 755p, Centro and other units from Palm Inc. to its list of more than 1,000 supported handsets.

To promote the service, DeviceAnywhere is giving away free accounts and device time for members of the Palm Developer Network.

Despite the “virtual” name, DeviceAnywhere does not provide an emulation environment. The service offers access to real, physical devices set up in their labs across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan, for sharing by developers and software testers through a browser-based interface. It can press buttons, tap touch-screens, connect and disconnect the battery, open and close the unit and listen to ringtones and other sounds. You can even make real voice or data calls.

Screen contents of the device under test are passed through to the browser and displayed on an image of the actual device. The basic service allows for online collaboration of dispersed teams on the same device in real time, with screenshot or video capture of the device under test and keystroke audit trails. Developers find their target by entering a specific model number or by paring the supported-device list down by carrier and/or manufacturer. Applications are installed over the air (if supported by the device) or using a cable. Test results are stored in a provided database.

Monthly pricing is based on “packages,” which correspond to sets of devices on a particular carrier network. Device time is billed by the hour, divided into six-minute increments. The service costs US$200 per month for the first carrier package and $100 per month thereafter.