CHALLENGES OF MOBILE APPLICATION TESTING
By the time you finish reading this, the mobile app landscape will have changed. New OS versions will have been released. A bunch of new devices will have hit the market. Cool new apps will have gone viral, altered the way we interact with the world around us, and sold for millions. And mobile app testing will have become that much more complex and challenging for all of us. Unlike traditional testing, mobile application testing requires special test cases and techniques. The wide variety of mobile technologies, platforms, networks and devices presents a challenge when developing efficient strategies to test mobile software.
Smartphone applications have experienced explosive growth since 2007. The number and variety of consumer and enterprise mobile applications has also grown exponentially over the last few years. The combined number of applications in the Apple App Store and Google Play already exceeds a billion. Additionally, every major enterprise is rapidly adding applications for internal use. With so many applications competing for users’ attention, meeting a high quality bar is essential for the success of an app. Poor-quality applications not only hamper user adoption but also can cause revenue loss and irreparable brand damage. Defective enterprise applications can lead to lost productivity also. Thus, organizations need to ensure that every application meets the expectation of the end user.
Testing mobile applications is different and more complex than testing traditional desktop and web applications. Mobile applications need to be tested on a variety of software platforms and versions, on diverse hardware and form factors, and under different network connectivity conditions. Moreover, the rapid pace of mobile OS updates, the frequent introduction of new devices and the customer expectation of quick upgrades require additional test cycles.
Today Android and IOS are the most successful mobile platforms. Most companies are preparing enterprise applications for various mobile handset manufacturers with various flavors of OS on different screen sizes and hardware configurations. It is enormously challenging to verify enterprise applications across myriads of handsets with different screen sizes and OS flavors. Therefore, testing teams need to find better and more cost-efficient solutions to avoid any compromise on quality.
Testing mobile applications is more complex and time consuming compared to traditional desktop and web applications. The majority of desktop applications need to be tested on a single dominant platform – Windows. The lack of a similar dominant platform for mobile apps results in many apps being developed for and tested on Android, IOS, Windows and sometimes even more platforms. A comprehensive mobile application testing strategy is essential for getting your applications to market on time and within budget. Key elements to consider for effectively testing applications are –
Target Device Selection – Create an optimal mix of simulator testing and physical device testing on different devices, OS, versions & configuration to maximize test coverage.
Test Automation – Select an effective test automation tool and maximize the use of automation to reduce the cost of regression testing.
Network Environment – Consider testing primarily on Wi-Fi networks and using network simulation tools to simulate cellular connectivity and various network conditions.
Types of Testing – Consider different types of testing required (functional, performance, security, etc)
Also in order to understand the complexity of testing mobile apps, it is important to understand various aspects of an application that need to be tested. The specific types of testing required for each application depends on various factors such as:
The type of application – (banking, gaming, social, or business)
Target audience type – (consumer, corporate, enterprise) and
Distribution channel– (e.g. Apple App Store, Google Play, direct distribution)
CONCLUSION: The importance of testing mobile applications before deployment in a live environment cannot be overemphasized. An application with bugs and other issues can hurt not merely business but also the reputation of the organization.
Despite the challenges in mobile application testing, careful selection of target devices, connectivity options, and tools that maximize automation can ensure a cost effective mobile testing process. An optimal selection of target devices and using a mix of simulators and physical devices can maximize test coverage without the need to test every feature on each device. The use of Wi-Fi networks for the majority of testing in combination with network simulation tools can reduce the cost and complexity of testing on various cellular networks. Maximizing automation is an effective way of expediting the testing process and reducing long term testing costs.
Combining the solutions to mobile specific aspects of application testing with traditional best practices and testing processes can effectively address the challenges of mobile application testing.