The increasing adoption of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has fueled the growth of mobile applications in recent years. Mobile devices have become the primary medium of interaction for consumers as well as businesses worldwide, and mobile applications are driving these interactions.
To a large extent, mobile apps have put the business operations in the hands of the consumers, and they are literally running businesses, or at least influencing business decisions. However, the big question is – What makes a mobile app compelling enough to influence consumer behaviors and make them engage with your brand and products?
Of course, a strong mobile app development strategy is the foundation of any successful mobile app, but there’s one key component in app development that ensures that your mobile app meets customer expectations and business goals – Mobile Application Testing Strategy.
Mobile application testing is the quality test your mobile apps have to pass before they reach their target mobile devices or app stores, and become available for public.
Mobile application testing challenges
Like any desktop or web application testing, mobile application testing is also focused on the quality and performance of the final product. However, mobile app testing becomes far more challenging because of the following key factors:
Unlike traditional web or desktop applications, mobile apps are used on multiple devices and platforms, such as iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and more. Moreover, there are multiple versions of operating systems for each device.
The variety of devices, platforms, screen resolutions, memory sizes, and connectivity options pose a great challenge for testers to ensure multi-device, multi-platform compatibility of the app.
In-house vs. outsourced testing
Amidst the shrinking budgets and tight deadlines, businesses often need to make difficult choices to either go for in-house testing or outsource their testing activities.
Outsourcing can give you access to a vast pool of skilled resources and testing tools, however it’s difficult to find the right outsourcing partner you can trust. On the other hand, in-house testing gives full control of testing activities to business but they always fall short of specialized tools and right number of dedicated testing resources.
Availability of mobile testing tools
If businesses go for in-house testing, there’s always a scarcity of advanced testing tools and methodologies, in addition to highly qualified testing resources. Moreover, they don’t have access to mobile testing best practices, guidelines and industry standards that need to be complied to.
Application Lifecycle Testing
Inherently, mobile applications need to be upgraded frequently because:
- End users expect quick feature upgrades an instant bug fixes.
- Wide use of agile development methodologies is giving rise to more frequent, cumulative feature updates.
- Frequent upgrades in mobile platforms (OS updates) are forcing developers to maintain the app compatibility with the latest versions.
All these factors broaden the scope of mobile application testing, adding addition test cycle with each upgrade.
To overcome these challenges, you need a robust mobile application testing strategy that makes sure that your mobile app meets all the quality and performance guidelines.
Though most businesses already have a mobile app testing strategy in place, they often encounter major failures in the app performance and quality. This results in extended release cycles and bad user experience after the app release.
We have listed following key factors to be considered for a successful mobile app testing strategy that will ensure that your testing activities are closely aligned with the overall customer expectations, business goals, and industry best practices.
1. Device Selection
The foremost consideration to make, before initiating mobile app testing activities, is to choose the devices to be used for testing the app. It’s a very critical decision to make because the device you choose should represent the maximum number of target customers for you app.
Within device selection, there are two choices to be made – selecting the device model, or choosing between emulators and physical devices.
Following factors should be considered while selecting the device model:
- OS Version – Mobile apps should be tested on all major stable OS versions.
- Screen Resolution – Use a mix of difference screen resolutions to test the mobile app, because the user experience varies on different screen sizes and screen resolutions.
- Form Factor – Mobile applications may act differently on Smartphones and tablets. Therefore, if the app is compatible to both Smartphones and tablets, it should be tested for both form factors.
If required, several other factors such as memory size, connectivity options, etc. should be taken into account while selecting the device model.
Emulators vs. Physical Devices
You can also choose between device emulators and physical devices. Particularly in the initial stages of development, device emulators can be highly effective because they allow quick and efficient testing, especially in an agile development environment.
Device emulators are also very cost-effective, and they provide excellent options like ability to bypass the network, use live environment via modem, and use of an effective scripting language. In addition, mobile device emulators can be effectively used for testing basic application functionality, and when the features are being developed.
This does not mean that you should bypass the use of physical devices altogether. Testing on physical devices is important to understand the application behavior in real-life scenarios. It’s all about using a right mix of emulators and physical devices to get the best results, quickly and efficiently.
2. Beta Testing of your Mobile App
Beta testing of your mobile app can be a very effective method of mobile app testing that gives you access to real-world testers, real devices, actual networks, and wide geographic coverage.
It gives you a chance to test your mobile app for factors like:
- Network density
- How the app behaves on specific devices
- How real-world users interact with the app
- Different battery states on the devices
- Multiple networks (Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G, etc.)
The real-world testing environment in beta testing is nearly impossible to re-create in a test lab.
3. Mobile App Testing on Cloud
Cloud testing is another effective option to test mobile applications. Cloud computing provides a web-based mobile testing environment where applications can be deployed, tested, and managed.
Besides providing on-demand access to variety of mobile devices, cloud testing environment helps minimize the project costs increases ROI. In general, cloud application testing deliver following benefits:
- Cloud testing environments offer highly regulated and pre-configured architectures, thus drastically reducing the defects associated with erroneous configuration of test environments. This improves the quality of tests to a great extent.
- Cloud-based testing saves businesses from setting up on-premise test environments which are time consuming and cause project delays. Besides, there’s no need to invest in advanced testing tools, server configurations, licensing, and testing resources. The result is – reduced time-to-market and increased testing efficiency.
- Cloud testing environments have the capability to support complex apps, which solves the problems associated with testing dynamic, complex, and disparate apps in an in-house environment.
- One of the greatest advantages of cloud testing is the amount of scalability it offers to assess an applications capacity thresholds.
- A cloud-based testing environment provides real-time testing results, which means defects can be analyzed while the tests are running.
4. Network Connectivity
Majority of mobile applications depend on network connectivity to provide rich functionality. Therefore, testing mobile apps in real network environments is essential to get the real picture, to assess the behavior of the app in real mobile networks.
Several network simulation tools are available to test mobile apps in various network speeds, bandwidths variations, etc., which can add great value to the testing activities. In addition to testing the app in a full internet connectivity scenario, other factors such as limited connectivity, connectivity with high latency, no connectivity, and metered connectivity should also be taken into account.
For a mobile app to be successful, it’s very critical that it delivers consistent performance across varied network environments.
5. Manual Vs Automated Testing
Automated testing is highly effective in consistently repeating a test procedure in regression testing as well as testing during the development stages. However, test automation requires significant amount of initial investment.
Therefore, test automation should be done only in the scenarios when:
- The solution lifecycle is long, and the application is growing and evolving
- The scale and frequency of regression testing is high
- A large chunk of test cases include existing functionality test cases
In reference to mobile application testing, automation should be used to:
- Verify application compatibility when a new OS version is released
- Check backward compatibility when the application is upgraded
We can’t deny the importance of a streamlined mobile application testing strategy in the success of a mobile app. Despite that, the mere presence of a testing strategy does not ensure the quality and performance of a mobile app.
The strategic selection of target devices, and a right mix of emulators, physical devices, and testing methodologies, before creating a mobile app testing strategy, will go a long way in delivering desired results from your app testing activities.
All these, combined with testing best practices and industry standards, can help you overcome the obstacles of mobile application testing, and build remarkable mobile apps for you customers.