Mobile Application Testing: Make Sure Your App Goes Through Quality Assurance

mobile app testingMobile applications are cropping up hourly, many still in beta form. You don’t have to look hard to find negative reviews from users crying foul because the app doesn’t work on their phone. The odd logging-out of an app while in use is enough to cause a user to click uninstall and find a competitor app by a competitor company. Yet another update to fix problems which cause other problems, sigh. Can this be avoided? The answer is in testing.

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Challenges in Mobile Application Testing

There are many challenges in mobile application testing. Computer and web app testing do not work for mobile app testing. There is far more diversity in mobile products which complicates the process.

Device Variation

Device variation is the largest hurdle you will face in developing applications. The many makes and models of smartphones, operating systems and versions of each operating system are a catalog of diversity that all must be tested individually. There are different keyboard types to add further complication. Even hardware, CPU, Memory, OS optimization, and the screen resolution can be different within the same family of products. For instance the Samsung Galaxy has several different sub-names with many different specs. With no standardization, you have to meet all the needs of every user you anticipate will want to download your app.

Mobile Testing Tools

Web application testing tools do not work for mobile applications, neither do desktop application tools. The tools you’ve used to test your website, LinkedIn page, Facebook page, simply focusing on search engine optimization, navigation, hierarchy, none of this is enough with mobile. When developing an app, you have a learning curve of testing and need more workers and tools to accomplish this task.

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Industry Standards

In order to be popular and globally accepted, the testing of mobile applications must meet industry standards. Conventions of use have already taken hold, and fighting against the system users have already accepted is a losing battle. If users have to completely relearn how to use your app because it is not like any other app in function, they will uninstall it. If your app takes too much space on their phone leaving junk files and growing in size, they will find something else that doesn’t.

Skilled Testers

A skilled Quality Assurance (QA) specialist is needed on each quality team for testing, but also to quickly identify bugs in the user interface because UI is critical for mobility. Even if the mobile application is well-tested and fully functional, the look and feel of the application dictates whether users will accept or reject it.

Strategy for Testing

There are many tools to choose from to test mobile apps. We will focus on the device emulator, physical devices, and cloud testing, as well as automated tools. These strategies are not mutually exclusive. You should not employ just one.

Device Emulator

A mobile device emulator displays your app in various interfaces. They usually are free. UI, stress, and performance tests can be done with an emulator. They are relatively easy to manage. Emulators are cost effective and highly recommended. But they are too perfect, they are more simulator driven and do not present real world quirks.

Physical Device Testing

Physical device testing cannot be avoided, as it allows up to 100% of test coverage and it gives the most realistic results view. They have the advantage of having real quirks that users deal with. It’s the difference between a simulator and flying the real plane. This testing is the most expensive, although borrowing devices is an option to try, but it can push your testing back because of waiting list. Airtime and subscription costs cannot be avoided.

Mobile Cloud Testing

Cloud testing allows data to be kept on the internet instead of on a computer or network. The testing is accessed through a browser, where it will be deployed, tested, and managed. Cloud testing is cost effective for the company because it put the cost on the testers who own the devices and pay subscription fees.

Automation Tools

Automation tools allow you to avoid some of the manual work, which can save money. Many tools for automation can be found for purchase.

Types of Testing

Usability Testing

  • Text visibility with each language
  • Navigation between screens
  • Verification of functionality online
  • Verification of functionality offline
  • Feedback from interaction with the system

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Compatibility Testing

  • Evaluating app for different mobile devices
  • Evaluating app for various OS versions
  • Evaluating app for all screen sizes
  • Evaluating app for all resolutions
  • Verifying if integrations server changes
  • Checking for app isolation with other apps on device

Interface Testing

  • Validation of each screen
  • Validation of each button
  • Validation of each text input
  • Navigation flow with Facebook
  • Navigation flow with bookmarks
  • Navigation flow with review, etc.

Services Testing

  • Checking that mobile app does not act like a server
  • Checking if a service takes too long
  • Checking if a service is used offline
  • Checking if a service goes down and returns malformed responses

Low Level Resource Testing

  • Checks for overuse of memory
  • Checks for not releasing memory
  • Checks for temp files not cleaned
  • Checks for local database growing too big
  • Checks for the app generating junk files

Performance Testing

  • Checks on connection changes from WIFI to 3G/4G
  • Checks on shared image sizes
  • Checks on application response time
  • Checks on code optimization for the CPU cycle
  • Checks on battery consumption
  • Checks on memory leaks
  • Checks that resources like GPS and camera are freed

Operational Testing

  • Checks for back-up of necessary information
  • Checks for save and recovery plan if battery goes down
  • Checks for data lost in app upgrade
  • Checks for app access if the user gets an alarm, call, message, notification, etc.
  • Checks on battery power usage while the app is accessed

Security Testing

  • Tests encryption/decryption techniques used for communication of sensitive data
  • Checks for multi-user support without data interference
  • Checks for access to files saved in the app by unintended users
  • Detects areas in tested application to block malicious content

Bottom Line

Testing of mobile apps is of high importance for the enjoyment and safety of the user. A bug- ridden application not only downgrades the image of the application in the mind of the user, but also can affect the image of the business. Testing is a cost that can’t be cut from the budget.