So often the focus on tools in software testing is on automation of GUIs, web testing, or even unit testing. Sometimes you hear about a little tool that has a special purpose that is very focused, such as AllPairs or PerlClip (via Satisfice).

How about a tool that you carry in your pocket? The iPhone and iPod Touch have revolutionized the smart phone industry. And, while the app store isn’t about to do the same to software testing, it is pretty interesting how a tester can occasionally benefit from having a multi-purpose tool like an iPhone or iPod Touch at hand.

So you ask, how can you use one to test? Let’s explore a couple of common tools I like to have in my pocket for testing:

A web browser is always a handy tool. Assuming you can get on the network at the office with a Touch, or have an iPhone You can:

  • Look stuff up on
  • Try out your non-iPhone web application for usability on an iPhone
  • Kick off a FitNesse test (probably need wi-fi access for this one).

BigStopWatch (free)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often kept a stop-watch at hand to keep track of how long it takes for the software to do something. Having a reliable time piece to check loading time or responses can give you ammunition in a discussion later. Sometimes I haven’t had that stop watch with me when I wanted it. Now I always have one with me. Technically I have one in my regular phone, but it is very clumsy.

Evernote (free)
Ubiquitous capture. That’s what Evernote is good for. I use the Evernote client on my iPod Touch, my Windows computer and my Mac at home. If I had an iPhone, I could get pictures of the software behaving badly on someone else’s computer. With my Touch, I can take notes in a meeting, at a co worker’s desk or when I’m at lunch and have those notes for use later. You never know when inspiration will strike.

PCalc Lite Calculator (free)
A calculator is always a useful tool. Checking math is a common occurrence in testing. Sure, you could use the one in windows. But that thing is ancient. And it doesn’t support RPN. OK, so i don’t use the RPN option. I tried, but it didn’t work. I’ll try again later.

Read It Later (free)
Take your favorite Testing and Software Engineering thinkers with you. Don’t be stuck with nothing to read when waiting in line for lunch. Catch up on Exploratory Testing, Agile Acceptance Testing, Scrum, or even what something neat from arstechnica. Either install the extension to Firefox or use a bookmarklet to select what you want to read later, and next time you sync up it will be waiting for you. There is a pay version that add some nice features. Instapaper is a nice alternative.

9-Toolbox (free)
Nothing like a handy tool that does the job of nine. Date calculator. Count- down clock (to release deadline or vacation?). Currency converter. And Unit conversion. All are nice to haves, though probably not infinitely useful.

So that’s a list of some interesting options. By no means an exhaustive list. There are great ToDo apps, vim reference, html references, accessing via the web, and it’s even nice to use to listen to music while you work.

I love my iPod Touch. It is amazingly useful. Does everyone need one? No. Can’t I do all of this with another tool, or even with paper? Yes. Is it the next place the tool vendors will go? I doubt it. Anyways, Apple won’t allow capture-replay on the iPhone.

Now if no one beats me to it, I have an idea for an app.