What is Mobile Application Testing?

Nov 21, 2013 Aathira Nair

Mobile application testing is a rigorous evaluation process where experts systematically examine an app's performance, usability, and security to ensure it works flawlessly. The goal is to identify and fix any issues before releasing the app, ensuring a smooth user experience. Mobile application testing is a crucial aspect of the mobile application development process.

Speaking of mobile applications, there are two different natures of applications which run on mobile devices, native mobile applications and mobile web applications. The testing practices of each of these kinds of applications vary, but the primary challenge when dealing with mobile application testing are the different devices used by the end user. In which case, is having each of the different devices a solution? Or is there a better strategy which when employed will be optimal in terms of cost, quality and time-to-market.

Native applications

–  They run based on the hardware and operating system for which they were developed for

–   They offer rich experience to the user and offer a economic advantage to the developer

–    Testing: The app needs to be successfully downloaded onto the device, executed and the app should also be able to communicate with the backend infrastructure

Web Applications

–          The application runs on the global web and here again the compatibility with different devices and networks come into play

–          There are different technology solutions which can be used to mitigate risks depending on the target audience requirement

–          Testing: The key areas which need to be tested are the compatibility across mobile devices, mobile browsers, network and scripting challenges.

Key Elements of a Successful Mobile Application Testing Strategy

  1. Emulators: An emulator emulates various handset hardware configurations, and operating systems to enable emulated testing of the app under various scenarios. They also enable stress ad performance testing to be performed with very definitive outputs available. Initial testing on an emulator can offer device options and speed, which is crucial during the development phase. This is the most cost effective solution.
  2. Cloud testing tools: There are cloud based emulators which enable hosted testing services, wherein the app can be deployed, tested and managed on the cloud. Cloud allows for the largest number of devices available for testing and most importantly, you can run tests on different devices in parallel.
  3. Physical devices: Testing performed on physical mobile devices provides the real world scenario and also factor in device lags and network issues as would be experienced by an end user. No emulated device or cloud testing solution can factor in the faults and characteristics which only a physical device can exhibit. Hence, it is extremely essential that there are some real device tests in your test plan to verify and validate the emulator results.

Best Practices for Mobile Application Testing

  1. Automate:  In the case of emulators and cloud testing solutions, automation can help in saving time and money. They allow for far more test cases to be run with a better consistency and the reports and logs being documented, help to detect and solve issues quicker.
  2. Network: Each network functions differently and can have different challenges associated with it. For example, some networks might implement a mobile web proxy which can restrict the flow of information between your servers and the test client, hence causing disruption in the application. One solution is to bypass the network and use the internet for the testing purposes, but this again will not provide real world scenarios and outputs for your tests. The second, better solution is to use a remote real device, where a device is remotely located with access over the web for interface and keypad control. This enables a real world analysis and in many cases also test recording capabilities for which proves useful for regression testing. There are many providers who allow testing time slots to be purchased for particular models and make of devices on a remote real device.
  3. Scripting: When using an emulator, they automate the test execution, using a high- level, abstracted scripting language, which is independent of devices and platforms. The initial cost of setting up the script will be high, but with subsequent re-runs of the script, the automation, makes the scripting worth the while. When testing mobile websites, many automated scripting tools also “spider" or “crawl” a mobile web site. This enables a quick test for your mobile website to ensure there are no blaring errors in your pages and to ensure that there are no device inconsistencies, all with a single command. These testing practices are more often dependent on the QA team and what they define as the best strategy. At Nalashaa, we have a strategy which has been devised after careful planning and understanding of client requirements. A strategy which has been refined through the years to develop a methodology which is seen to deliver unfailingly under most possible circumstances.

Aathira Nair

An engineer by education, foraying into a medley of activities - content, social media and marketing.