Remote Usability Testing on an iPad

16 Jan 2012 - 12:50pm
4 years ago
7 replies
3275 reads


Does anyone have suggestions for tools that could be used to moderate remote usability tests on an iPad? We have built a prototype via Axure and would like our participants to use the prototype in the context of their everyday. Most remote usability methods I've seen for iPads are pretty clunky – they require a screen share with another computer or hugging a laptop with a webcam, etc. Is there a simpler way to perform moderated, remote usability tests on an iPad?

Thanks for your insight! 

– Liana


16 Jan 2012 - 1:55pm

We wish. There is currently no way to screen share on an iOS device that doesn't involve jailbreaking the device, airplay mirroring, or a HDMI cable. You might want to re-consider the hugging-a-webcam method - we've had a lot of success (after seeing the MailChimp blog post on it) and while it's low-tech (sort of), it's reliable. If anyone has a magic method of remote sharing on any kind of iOS device, we'll happily post it on

Happy testing trails.

- Nate
  Bolt | Peters

17 Jan 2012 - 3:08am

Hi Liana!

Some time ago I did translation on russian of these article:

I didn't know how it can help you but may be you find some ideas for your future testing.

17 Jan 2012 - 6:44am

Hi Liana. Any more background? You say you want to do remote moderated tests in the context of the their 'everyday'. Do you mean you just want the user to be in their own environment, or actually doing what they would normally do - which the moderation would disrupt. If the latter, then possibly something that records the screen while the user carries out a task would be more appropriate.

However, since you say you want to moderate, then by necessity you're going to have to share the screen, aren't you? Programs like webex I think work on iPads (words on iPhone), so you could remotely share screens, and talk on the phone. Webex records the screens and voice conversation. There are probably other similar products.

Or were you looking for something different?


17 Jan 2012 - 9:45am
Doug Anderson

With a touch interface you don't really want screen sharing because there is no cursor and you need to watch the participant's fingers (or toes) to see what is being tried that is not having an effect in the UI. So what you want is a participant-POV video camera's output.

You say you want to see them using the tablet in their usual context, so setting up a camera on a stand over a table and limiting their movement of the tablet to a designated space on the table (typical lab setup) doesn't sound like it meets your need.

It might muss up the participant's hair but how about a helmet-cam? You'd have the problem of getting it to them and more particularly that of getting it back from them. There's a new one that creates its own wifi hotspot to potentially simplify streaming the image.

Perhaps you could come up with a shoulder-mount for a webcam but aiming could be problematic. Maybe a webcam on a padded, adjustable headband? Plant that thing right in the middle of the participant's forehead! Do you also want the participant to comfortable and relaxed?

Maybe the video spy glasses advertised on the web could be hacked to route their (probably very low res) output to a laptop.

Interesting set of constraints for designing your test. Hope it goes well. Please let us know what you try and how it works.

17 Jan 2012 - 11:01am

Nate, If we come up with a simpler way, I will let you know! Thanks for your help.

Alexandr, Thanks so much for the link, I'll read through it!

Nick, We would like the participants to be in their own environment and yes, we need the participant to share their screen, which is the main issue. I've looked into GoToMeeting and WebEx and while an iPad user can access these sorts of meetings, they can't share their screen from their iPad. So far (as Nate mentioned above) we are going to use the MailChimp blog post method ( It doesn't allow for the context part, but it will allow the participant to share their screen with us. Thanks very much for your suggestions! 

Doug, Thanks for all of your suggestions. I will let you know what we try! 

17 Jan 2012 - 11:38am
Simon North

Hi Liana,

Just a thought (I've only ever used one for prototyping), but what about an iPad emulator? It's not a perfect solution, and misses nearly all of the iteraction, but might allow you to test some aspects of the interface.


23 Jan 2012 - 2:09pm

Hi Liana, I'm thinking this should help you try it out it's Ad Hoc distribution testing its explained in the below link.

Vinay Marisetty

Syndicate content Get the feed