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A Guide to Mobile App Testing Types and Approaches

The Ultimate Breakdown of Mobile App Testing: Types and Approaches

June 6, 2024
 Rohith Ramesh Rohith Ramesh
Rohith Ramesh


Mobile phones have become indispensable today, with millions of apps available on the market. Mobile functionality has expanded far beyond just calling and texting. However, the vast number of applications necessitates various types of mobile testing.

Imagine a day without your mobile phone—it seems nearly impossible. With mobiles differing in models, screen resolutions, operating systems, and network types, ensuring that an application performs well across all these combinations is challenging. This is where exhaustive mobile testing becomes crucial.

This blog will explore the different types and approaches to mobile app testing for applications and hardware.

Understanding Mobile App Testing

Mobile app testing is a meticulous procedure to ensure they meet high standards in quality, usability, and user satisfaction. This process entails thorough evaluation and validation across diverse devices, platforms, and operating systems. Its goal is to identify defects, enhance performance, and provide users with a seamless experience.

Importance of Mobile App Testing

The rising popularity of mobile phones has resulted in a daily surge of new applications driven by user ratings and reviews. Ratings and reviews depend on the application's functionality, making mobile application testing crucial. Testing becomes mandatory in software development with different mobile phones running on various operating systems and featuring different screen sizes. App updates are essential for user engagement, as bug fixes ensure app retention and market sustainability.

Evolution of Mobile App Testing

Previously, mobile app testing primarily focused on functional testing, ensuring that apps met their intended purposes. However, testing approaches have evolved significantly. Today, mobile application testing encompasses various types of testing to deliver an exceptional end-user experience.

Understanding the diverse types of mobile app testing and their unique contributions is essential for ensuring the success of mobile applications in the market.

Types of Mobile Apps: Native, Hybrid, and PWA

Mobile app testing companies typically engage with three primary types of mobile applications:

  • Native Apps: They are designed for a particular platform like Android or iOS, leading to distinct applications for each platform.
  • Hybrid Apps: These applications are versatile and compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. They achieve this by combining native and web elements in development.
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): These apps function as both regular mobile applications and separate websites simultaneously, offering a seamless user experience across platforms.

Testing Approach for Native and Hybrid Apps

While native and hybrid apps use different underlying technologies, the testing approach remains similar. Functional checklists and test cases focus on traditional evaluations. However, performance issues are more common in hybrid apps due to the integration of web technologies within a native shell, potentially impacting responsiveness compared to native apps. Additionally, UI testing is more time-consuming for hybrid applications due to the need to accommodate various Android and iOS screen sizes and resolutions.

Mobile App OS: Android vs. iOS Testing

Testing processes for Android and iOS apps are generally similar, with the main difference being the time required for testing. Android app testing typically requires more time due to the broader variety of devices and OS versions. Android devices come with a vast range of screen sizes, resolutions, software, and hardware configurations, leading to more layout issues, interface bugs, and a more extensive scope of UI testing tasks than iOS. Compatibility and performance testing for Android apps also require more time due to the multitude of software/hardware combinations available.

Approaches to Mobile App Testing

Regarding mobile app testing, there are two primary approaches: proactive and reactive.

Proactive Approach

The proactive approach involves starting the test design process early to prevent issues before the code is ready. Instead of waiting to check a mobile application's final or near-final version, the QA team begins with a requirements review. This approach helps prevent bugs rather than just finding them, shaping software quality from the outset.

Reactive Approach

Conversely, the reactive approach involves working with the end product, assuming its design and functionality are ready for use. Testing is conducted at a late stage of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), reacting to the quality of the delivered product.

Different Techniques for Mobile App Testing

There are two fundamental testing techniques: static and dynamic testing.

Static Testing

Static testing involves examining an app without executing the code. Experts review the code to find errors within the foundational layer of an application, focusing on establishing requirements and documentation to prevent issues.

Dynamic Testing

Dynamic testing involves evaluating an app during its execution. QA engineers check the app's functions and layers—from unit to user interface—guided by designed testing data. This method is highly compatible with mobile automation testing.

Different Types of Mobile App Testing

  1. Functional Testing: This focuses on testing an application's primary objective and flow and verifying features and specifications.
  1. Usability Testing: Evaluates the user-friendliness of an app, focusing on human experience and real-device testing.
  1. Performance Testing: Checks an app's stability, responsiveness, and speed under different workload conditions.
  1. Security Testing: Ensures the app's security against cyber-attacks and data leaks, critical for user trust.
  1. Interruption Testing: Ensures the app functions correctly despite interruptions like calls, messages, or low battery.
  1. Compatibility Testing: Ensures the app works across various OS versions, devices, and network environments.
  1. Localization Testing: Tests the app's adaptability to different languages and geolocations.
  1. Speed Testing: Checks the app's opening speed compared to previous versions and competitors.
  1. Installation Testing: Confirms that the app can be installed, uninstalled, and updated seamlessly, without encountering any errors.
  1. Memory Leak Testing: Identifies if the app fails to release temporary memory, which can lead to performance issues.
  1. API Testing: Evaluate the app's communication with external services for functionality, performance, and security.
  1. Build Testing: Tests critical issues associated with an updated mobile app build before release.
  2. Role Testing: Verifies if different application users can access their entitled experiences and data.
  1. Stream Testing: Ensures reliable audio and video content delivery in the app.
  1. Manual Testing: Human-driven process focusing on user experience, suitable for exploratory testing and user-friendliness checks.
  1. Automated Testing: Test scripts are used to automate test cases, covering 80% of the testing process for efficiency and regression testing.

Challenges in Mobile App Testing

  1. Device and OS Fragmentation: Testing across different devices and operating systems (OS) to ensure compatibility and functionality.
  1. Network Variability: Ensuring consistent performance under different network conditions, such as 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi.
  1. User Interface Consistency: Maintaining a uniform user experience across different screen sizes as well as resolutions.
  1. Security Vulnerabilities: Protecting sensitive data, while ensuring robust security measures against cyber threats.
  1. Adaptability to Updates: Keeping pace with frequent operating system and app updates to maintain app functionality and compatibility.

Creating a Mobile Testing Plan

To create an effective mobile testing plan, follow these key steps:

  • Device Testing: Determine the devices to test, considering the diverse range available in the market. Consider utilizing automated testing on a device cloud for efficiency.
  • Network Connectivity Testing: Evaluate the app's performance across different network conditions using tools that simulate various environments.
  • OS Version Testing: Ensure the app functions seamlessly across different operating systems and versions to reach a wider audience.
  • Security Testing: Conduct comprehensive security testing to safeguard user data and address any vulnerabilities that may compromise the app's integrity.
  • Interrupt Conditions Testing: Assess the app's response to interruptions, such as incoming calls or notifications, to ensure uninterrupted user experience and smooth performance.

Enhance Mobile App Testing with HeadSpin's Advanced Capabilities

HeadSpin offers a robust global device infrastructure that empowers developers, testers, and QA teams to conduct secure testing on a vast array of real SIM-enabled devices worldwide. This extensive real device cloud provides access to thousands of devices from different brands, models, OS versions, and builds across 90+ global locations. With HeadSpin's data science capabilities, enterprises can test apps across real user scenarios without relying on emulators and simulators.

Key Capabilities of HeadSpin

  1. Comprehensive Device Coverage: Access thousands of real devices across various manufacturers, models, and OS versions to ensure app compatibility and performance across different platforms, minimizing device fragmentation issues.
  1. Real-User Testing Scenarios: Conduct tests in real-world conditions, simulating diverse user scenarios and network environments to identify performance issues and user experience challenges, ensuring optimal app performance across different network conditions.
  1. Efficient Issue Detection: Utilize data science-driven issue detection to enhance testing and performance monitoring. HeadSpin employs advanced ML algorithms to detect potential issues and performance bottlenecks automatically, enabling faster issue resolution and actionable insights.
  1. Audio and Video Quality Testing: Monitor and evaluate audio and video quality using unique user experience KPIs, leveraging computer vision and machine learning techniques. HeadSpin facilitates real-time audio playback and microphone quality testing worldwide, ensuring optimal performance in speech-enabled apps and audio streaming.
  1. Capturing Vital KPIs: Capture crucial KPIs across real devices, including app performance metrics, user experience insights, network conditions, geographic data, and device health, empowering businesses to make informed decisions and optimize apps.
  1. Streamlined Test Automation: Utilize automated testing solutions to streamline the testing process across a wide range of real devices under various real-world conditions, reducing testing cycles and accelerating time-to-market.
  1. Extensive Integrations: Seamlessly integrate with widespread test automation and DevOps tools such as Appium, Selenium, XCode, Jenkins, Azure, GitHub, and GitLab. These integrations provide automation API access for audio/video capture and biometric testing instrumentation, ensuring high app performance and improving overall testing efficiency.

The Way Forward

Every app developer needs to consider the mobile application testing types mentioned above to create robust, reliable, seamless, and secure mobile applications. However, not all apps need to undergo all twelve testing types. Each app is unique, so seeking help from a professional mobile application testing company can help identify the best testing methods suited to your application.

HeadSpin offers seven distinctive mobile app testing scenarios, providing a comprehensive approach to ensure applications meet rigorous quality and usability standards. Utilizing HeadSpin's AI-powered testing platform, extensive global device infrastructure, and data science insights, organizations can efficiently conduct end-to-end testing and monitoring, resulting in accelerated release cycles and enhanced app performance. This platform enables organizations to improve app performance, minimize QA time and production issues, and streamline release cycles.

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Q1. What are the primary categories of mobile applications?

Ans: Mobile applications are typically categorized into three main types: native, hybrid, and web apps. Each type has its own development approach, the skills required, and the associated advantages and disadvantages.

Q2. What does QA mobile testing entail?

Ans: QA mobile testing focuses on maintaining a consistent user experience across various devices. It ensures that regardless of the device used, whether high-end or budget, the app remains consistent, responsive in design, and fully functional.

The Ultimate Breakdown of Mobile App Testing: Types and Approaches

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