What is mobile testing and why you need it
The market for mobile smart device apps and website access is growing rapidly but is becoming increasingly crowded, especially with poor-quality and low-priced or free offerings. Users freely share experiences, good and bad, on social media and specialist websites and blogs. Having a positive review and reputation is essential to ensure success in this market. That’s where comprehensive and effective mobile testing comes in. Mobile testing is the process of evaluating mobile applications on various smart devices to ensure they function correctly, perform well, and give a positive user experience across different platforms and devices.
Consequently, mobile testing has become crucial to delivering high-quality mobile and website applications and ensuring business success. In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to mobile testing, covering types, devices, tools, and user-centric strategies.
Historically, in the days of mainframe and desktop systems development, testing was a manual process. A testing team would prepare test plans and the expected results from each test. The test plan was carried out, and failing tests were passed back to the developers for correction and retesting.
This was a time-consuming and repetitive process and expensive in resources, so efforts were made to automate the process, and software toolkits began to appear. Automated testing meant smaller test teams and a more rapid development and deployment cycle. That brought faster time to market and cost benefits.
The process was given a kick by the need to develop and deploy mobile apps rapidly. Today, a combination of manual and automated testing has become essential when developing mobile apps.
Today, a combination of manual and automated testing has become essential when developing mobile apps.
Types of mobile testing
Just as in other areas of application development, there are several types of tests that mobile apps need to pass.
- Functional testing: Verifying that the app’s features and functionalities work as expected.
- Usability testing: Ensuring that the app is user-friendly and intuitive.
- Performance testing: Assessing the app’s responsiveness, speed, and resource usage.
- Compatibility testing: Testing the app on various devices, OS versions, and screen sizes.
- Security testing: Identifying vulnerabilities and threats to data and ensuring data security.
- Installation testing: Testing the installation and uninstallation processes.
- Localization testing: Verifying the app’s functionality in different languages and regions.
Selecting devices for testing
- Choose a mix of popular devices with various screen sizes, resolutions, and operating systems.
- Prioritize devices based on your target audience and market.
How to go about testing
Traditionally, testing has been an intermediate stage between development and production. Designers create and specify the apps, including the technical environment, developers choose their development tools, and they then develop the app through various iterations until they have reached a high level of development close to the finished specified product.
There are several types of testing that are used. Here are three typical, though there can be others:
- Module testing: A defined code segment is tested for internal consistency by the developer and perhaps a development team to ensure that it meets the design specifications.
- Integration testing: If a module interacts with another module, then integration testing ensures that information is correctly passed between the two modules.
- Systems testing: This is where the app is tested in its entirety to ensure it meets the design specifications. It sometimes includes testing by an “unknown user,” an individual or team of end users who were not involved in the development. They will assess the development for correct operation, ease of use, and other aesthetics.
Some tools and techniques
The precise tools and techniques during the development, testing, and transition to production will depend to a great extent on the app’s development environment and operating environment. Indeed, it may be that an app is developed to operate in different environments, for example, Apple and Android.
Integrated testing environments
Using a variety of different mobile testing tools in a testing environment can bring up problems of coordination. Errors and omissions can be missed, or false positives generated. That’s where integrated testing environments are useful.
Some people consider that investment in an integrated app is not necessary. However, you should not release an app to the market before it is properly tested. With a premature release, you risk reputational damage and depressed sales. That equates to lost income. Integrated testing environments can mitigate these risks. Many, such as Tricentis, offer a trial period during which the app can be comprehensively tested in action before purchase.
You should check that the test application offers automation to help with test authoring, an ability to use your own code, and device management to allow testing in different operating system environments. A comprehensive reporting system is needed to highlight failures and help with drilling down. These are just a few of the requirements that are needed.
With a premature release, you risk reputational damage and depressed sales. That equates to lost income.
Emulators and real devices
Emulators are useful for initial testing and quick iterations, but real devices are essential for accurate results. If you use one, it needs to be kept up to date.
Emulators may not fully replicate real-world scenarios, so real device testing is necessary for comprehensive testing.
This concept can be extended to version testing, where an app could depend on a particular operating system release or operating environment.
Mobile app automation
If you choose not to use an integrated testing environment or have specialist testing requirements, automation tools, such as Appium, Selenium, and Espresso, help streamline testing processes.
Automation is ideal for repetitive tests like regression testing.
However, it is useful to remember that manual testing will still be part of the overall test environment. Automated testing can go a long way toward speeding up the process, but there are some areas in which manual testing is still necessary. Automation cannot evaluate the “look and feel” of an app or its ease of use. That needs human assessment.
Automated testing can go a long way toward speeding up the process, but there are some areas in which manual testing is still necessary.
Test your app in various network conditions (3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi) to evaluate performance in different scenarios. This becomes increasingly important in the case of remote working. Many public spaces now offer Wi-Fi connectivity, and it is fast becoming the connectivity medium of choice for users using a smart device such as a mobile phone or tablet.
It can also be that particular locales are at different stages of network development or have specific control requirements and therefore need specific configurations to optimize local use.
Usability and user xxperience
Pay attention to the app’s layout, navigation, and overall user experience.
Real users can gather feedback and suggest improvements. As suggested above, testing by an “unknown user” team, who are not developers or system architects, can bring valuable feedback on usability. It is often valuable to include nontechnical users in the design of the system’s operational flow and layout.
Considerations that users will look at and therefore need to be tested include performance, security, battery consumption, OS compatibility, and screen size displays.
The app needs to perform well and meet user expectations, for example, in time to load. Obviously, overall performance can depend on external factors such as connectivity.
Performance testing measures the app’s load time, responsiveness, and resource usage to optimize performance. This again needs to be carried out in a variety of operating environments. If there is a minimum operating environment, prospective users need to know this before purchasing.
New malware and hacking exploits appear every day, and ID theft attempts are becoming common. Some apps, especially financial and e-commerce apps, will need close integration with anti-malware apps such as AVG. Users expect their data to be, as far as is possible, secure.
Battery and power consumption
Users expect a long “on” time. There is a need for a specific test for the app’s impact on device battery life and power consumption.
Mobile OS versions
Test the app on different OS versions to ensure compatibility. An absolute no-brainer. It is also necessary to ensure that the app keeps up to date with new OS releases, especially where a smart device automatically implements new software releases.
Testing on Various Screen Sizes
Ensure the app is responsive and displays correctly on various screen sizes and resolutions.
App store guidelines
Comply with the guidelines of the respective app stores (e.g., Apple App Store, Google Play) to avoid rejection. Make getting the app easy.
Actively seek user feedback and reviews to identify issues and prioritize improvements.
Remember that mobile testing is an ongoing process, and it’s crucial to continually monitor and update your app to adapt to new devices, operating system updates, and user feedback. By investing in a comprehensive mobile testing app such as Tricentis, you can deliver a reliable and satisfying user experience for your mobile app or website. Here you can find a free demo of the Tricentis Testim Mobile.
This post was written by Iain Robertson. Iain operates as a freelance IT specialist through his own company, after leaving formal employment in 1997. He provides on-site and remote global interim, contract, and temporary support as a senior executive in general and ICT management. He usually operates as an ICT project manager or ICT leader in the Tertiary Education sector. He has recently semi-retired as an ICT director and part-time ICT lecturer in an Ethiopian university.