Device and platform diversity, short release cycles, lack of mature testing tools and the variety of network connectivity options are some of the key challenges faced in the mobile application testing environment.
A comprehensive mobile application testing strategy that includes device and network infrastructure, optimized selection of target devices and an effective combination of manual and automated testing tools to cover both functional and non-functional testing is essential for getting your mobile applications to market on time and within budget.
Smartphone applications have experienced explosive growth. The number and variety of consumer and enterprise mobile applications has grown exponentially over the last few years. With so many applications competing for users’ attention, meeting a high quality bar is essential for the success of an app. Organizations need to ensure that every application meets a high quality bar in order to prevent revenue loss, lost productivity, damage to brand reputation and effect on user adoption.
Why Mobile Application Testing is Different
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.
A comprehensive mobile application testing strategy is essential for getting your applications to market on time and within budget.
Key Elements in Testing Mobile Applications Effectively
- Target Device Selection – Create an optimal mix of simulator testing and physical device testing on different models 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, and compliance)
Dimensions of Mobile Application Testing
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. Some of these aspects are specific to mobile applications while others are applicable for testing any type of software.
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, enterprise) and volume
- Distribution channel (e.g. Apple App Store, Google Play, direct distribution)
Application Life-Cycle and Testing
Mobile applications are upgraded frequently for a variety of reasons – Mobile users expect rapid feature upgrades and bug fixes. As more and more developers use agile development methodologies, frequent releases with incremental feature updates are becoming common
Applications are updated to take advantages of new versions of mobile platforms. Each application upgrade warrants an additional test cycle. Moreover, additional test cycles are needed when a new version of a mobile platform is released to ensure application. compatibility. Similarly, additional test cycles are needed when a new high profile device is introduced in the market.
The scope of testing for each test cycle depends on the underlying changes. Some minor changes may require testing only key application functionality (often called ‘smoke test’ or ‘sanity test’) while other changes may require full regression testing and testing new features.
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. Factors such as support for applicable mobile platforms, script re-usability and total cost of ownership should be taken into account when selecting automation tools. 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.