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Choosing the right tools for automated mobile app testing

Choosing the right tools for automated mobile app testing

August 2, 2022
 by 
Jamie MooreJamie Moore
Jamie Moore

Today, mobile applications have become one of the essential business enablers and revenue drivers. In the first quarter of 2022, 3.3 million apps were available in the Google Play Store for the Android users while Apple App Store offered 2.11 million apps for the iOS, generating billions of revenue for the businesses. The widespread use of connected smart devices has led to heavy usage of mobile apps in almost every industrial sector. This has elevated the focus on effective mobile device testing and app testing to ensure superior performance and user experience. However, the fuelled number of devices and apps has driven the deployment of automation in the testing processes to reduce the complexities. Automated mobile device testing and application testing have thus become an integral part of today's business workflows. 

Why is mobile app automation testing mandatory for your business?

Automating mobile app testing has empowered developers and testers to make testing faster and efficient. Automation helps extend test coverage both on platforms and test scenarios. The key factors that mobile testing automation today allows businesses to ensure are:

  • Proper app functionality as specified in design documents for different specifications
  • App responsiveness, scalability, operating capacity, performance under varying loads
  • Overall app security by verifying data integrity, storage security issues, security of activity logs
  • Satisfactory app usability
  • Standardized app accessibility to users 

Factors to keep in mind for selecting the mobile app testing tools

There are a number of decisions that the testing and developing team needs to consider while choosing the tool for automating their app testing process. Following are some of the key considerations:

Device fragmentation and platform support

After the app is launched in the market, it is expected to run on different devices with varied screen sizes and resolutions, operating system versions, and carrier settings. Therefore, testers and developers need to ensure that the tools can function on several platforms and help check these variables efficiently during the app testing process. The more compatible the tool is across a range of platforms, the better it is for cost optimization and convenience. Hence, it is crucial to identify the available platforms on which the tool can run and also check if the mobile app automation testing tool provides cross browser testing.

Testing different network settings

With a wide array of devices in the market, each device stays connected to the internet at varied frequencies, bandwidths, and different mediums. For example, phones and tablets leverage a different wireless network, while desktops and laptops often use a wired network for a stable internet connection. Wireless networks are generally slower and less reliable than wired networks. So it is essential to execute IoT tests to determine the app performance at constant and stable connectivity. The usual processes of IoT testing assist in checking security, analytics, device, processors, networks, OS, platforms, and standards.

Scriptless options for test creation

Scripting automated tests reduces the human effort in creating tests, simplifying generating test steps in a test case, storing reusable elements or objects, recording test cases, and executing them on multiple browsers or versions. Therefore, opting for scriptless tools is a viable choice that can seamlessly integrate with the existing test workflows and reduce the need for scripting to execute the tests. Moreover, scriptless testing tools are of immense assistance in case of a lack of programming skills of the professionals.

Ease of usage

Software testing tools are often difficult to work with as we move towards the advanced stages of testing. Programming and maintaining the test scripts might be tedious and time-consuming, making the entire workflow complex. To eliminate such a challenge, it is advisable to choose a tool that is easy to handle and maintain by developers, test automation engineers, and non-programmers. 

The project team

While choosing the testing tools, it is also essential to consider the people involved in the development and testing, the processes used for developing the app, and the technologies leveraged. The capabilities and skill sets of the developers and testers to efficiently execute a process or a set of technologies also affect the tools selected for testing. Is the mobile tester familiar with the common testing and communication tools and their usage? Do the testers have the right skillset to follow a particular process for identifying and resolving issues? Or if the tester can effectively share and collaborate with your internal QA team as well as the development team. These are critical questions to be evaluated before choosing the right testing tools. 

Cost

Choosing the right automation tool for testing your mobile application should significantly depend on the pricing and budget factors. It is essential to devise a complete budget for the testing operation, research the different prices of the tools in the marketplace, and pick the testing tool accordingly. The cost of the tools assists in justifying the investment and ROI calculation, as a result of which businesses must identify tools that can help generate a higher ROI. In addition to this, one can evaluate the extra add-ons, support, and updates to determine how much these can cost. 

Proof of Concept (PoC)

Prior to finalizing the tool for mobile app test automation, it is a mandate to test the tool over multiple scenarios. Several tools are launched with a demo version of those that can be utilized for a limited period. Following are some of the steps to execute this:

  • Creating different scenarios while considering different objects and controls in the application under validation
  • Choosing the tools as per the comparative study
  • Automating the scenarios with the tools
  • Creating and studying the results
  • Comparing the compatibility of the tool with other continuous integration tools

A broad classification of mobile test automation tool

While the market has in store an extensive number of tools for test automation, they can be categorized into the following types:

  • Open source tools: These refer to the free platforms that allow the teams to access or utilize source codes and leverage these tools at any phase of the testing process like bug tracking, test case management, debugging, and many more. Further, the testers can modify the source codes without extra costs. For example, Appium.
  • Commercial tools: As the name suggests, such tools are exclusively designed for commercial purposes and primarily utilized by large enterprises and organizations that offer extended features, functionalities, and support. For instance, Tricentis Tosca.
  • Custom tools: Several scenarios demand custom-tailored automation solutions where the open source or commercial tools fall short. This is where customized tools are developed to fit the requirements of the project precisely. Such tools are usually of rarest usage and most expensive. 

The best mobile app testing tools

The marketplace offers a wide array of mobile QA tools for iOS and Android mobile apps to streamline the management and implementation of the app testing strategies and the overall process of mobile app automated testing. Following are some of the best-in-class tools:

HeadSpin

HeadSpin is one of the most efficient testing automation platforms that helps to remotely test and debug mobile, web, video, and audio apps on thousands of real devices across the world. The platform allows seamless integration with automated testing frameworks like Appium, Selenium, and Appium Inspector and is compatible with a wide array of technologies like Charles proxy, Xcode, Cucumber, Espresso, and many more. 

Following are some of the critical features of HeadSpin's testing solution:

- End-to-end testing

  • Supports 30+ automation frameworks
  • Performs multiple tests in parallel in real user conditions
  • Real SIM-enabled devices
  • Cross-browsers and cross-device support including phones, OTT media devices, and many more

- Performance optimization

  • 360 degree performance visibility in connected user experiences
  • Proactive root cause analysis
  • AI-enabled actionable insights

- Experience monitoring

  • Thousands of customized metrics
  • Computer vision based KPIs for measuring digital experience and audio video QoE
  • Insightful visualizations

Appium

An open-source automation testing framework, Appium can be utilized for both Android and iOS apps. This tool is effective for web, mobile, and hybrid application testing.

Benefits:

  • Supports multiple languages by enabling end-to-end testing in programming languages like Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Node, and C#.
  • Provides recording and playback features to enable testers to accelerate the testing process and produce test scripts in multiple programming languages.
  • Integrates seamlessly with popular CI/CD tools
  • Allows programmers to reuse the source code amongst Android and iOS through its cross-platform capabilities

Tosca

Tosca is a software testing tool developed and supported by Tricentis leveraged to automate end-to-end testing for software apps.  This tool is used extensively in large-scale applications for achieving effective results. 

Benefits:

  • Supports manual and automated testing
  • No scripting required
  • Supports multiple platforms
  • User-friendly and easy-to-use interface
  • Supports multiple technologies like ORACLE, SAP, JAVA, HTML, and many more.

TestComplete

TestComplete allows professionals to run several repeated UI tests over the application platform. It is a compatible tool assisting in testing hybrid apps, supporting both Android and iOS app testing. Besides, this automated testing tool can be implemented seamlessly on real mobile devices or emulators. The automated test scripts are available over the tools or can be chosen from VBScript, Python, and other programming languages. 

Benefits:

  • Supports multiple mobile platforms
  • Helps create and run GUI tests on real iOS and Android devices
  • Integrates easily with trending CI/CD tools like Git and project management tools like JIRA 

Apptim

This QA tool enables mobile developers and testers to simplify app testing and analyze the performance in every build to forecast and prevent the critical issues from going live. They can further measure app render times, power consumption, capture crashes, resource usage, errors, and other factors on Android and iOS devices.

Benefits:

  • Compatibility with Android and iOS devices
  • Assists in identifying mobile app performance of two different build sessions and comparing those to identify the changes and new performance issues
  • Helps generate reports and publish reports to any JIRA project
  • Offers capabilities for recording, sharing, and testing bugs

Robotium

Robotium is an automated and open-source Android app testing tool that assists in using easy-to-code automation test scripts. This tool is popularly known for its capability to write automated test cases. Robotium helps developers define the function, system, and acceptance test scenarios across multiple Android activities.

Benefits:

  • Allows testing apps that include source code as well as apps that merely possess an APK file
  • Provides simple and robust test scripts
  • Helps create automatic GUI test cases for Android apps
  • Allows leveraging automated test cases for hybrid and native app testing

Selendroid

Selendroid is popularly known as the Selenium for Android-based mobile applications that can execute parallel test cases on multiple devices simultaneously. This tool also supports test automation for hybrid and native applications.

Benefits:

  • Supports all android versions
  • Supports programming languages like Java and C# that are compatible with web drivers
  • Can be deployed both on real devices as well as emulators
  • Provides the feature of object recognition 

Workflow for deploying effective test automation of mobile application

The success of any mobile app is heavily reliant on an effective mobile test automation procedure. The following steps can help deploy effective test automation.

#Step1: Proper planning and identification of testing types

It is critical to identify the type of the mobile app, whether it is a native, hybrid, or mobile web, and accordingly, choose the target devices to test those apps. Besides, checking if the app requires front-end testing along with back-end testing is a quintessence, followed by classifying the testing types and identifying the functional requirements to be tested.

#Step 2: Ensuring effective test case and test script development

Test cases must be developed for every function of the application, along with a special focus on battery usage, memory, app space, and related elements. The team must develop automated test scripts, and the reusable automation test scripts should be modified as per the project requirements.

#Step 3: Planning for the Test Environment Setup

This stage requires downloading, installing, and configuring the application on the testing device to set up the test environment while establishing the test version of the app prior to the actual testing process.

#Step 4: Execute automated testing

Carefully choose the automation tools like Appium, Robotium, or any other as per the requirement of the app under test.

#Step 5: Performing different tests, including usability, performance, security, and compliance testing

The mentioned tests are critical to ensure a good user experience, flawless performance despite multiple user logins and heavy loads, adequate security by authenticating SQL injection, session hijacking, and overall prevention of data leaks.

Conclusion: Which mobile testing tool is the best match for your app?

Identifying the right solution for automated mobile app testing is crucial and complex, as it requires several key factors to be considered. The right tool can help the developing team automate tests efficiently and thereby deliver the expected goals. In a nutshell, the team needs to observe the features that the testing solution has in store that can support various programming languages, cross-platform integration, and mobile platforms. Open-source tools can be a good fit when the team has experienced developers who have programmed the application and framework from scratch. On the other hand, a team with a significant gap in skill sets can utilize easy-to-go tools that can assist with pre-made project templates, easy demos and trials, and much more. If you are looking out for mobile app test automation solutions, HeadSpin can offer just what you need. Start free trial.

FAQs

1. What are the key benefits of automated mobile app testing?

Automated testing for mobile apps is much more accessible to app developers today. The key benefits of this testing approach include:

  • Reduced time for testing during app development while enhancing the efficiency
  • Reduced development cost through testing thoroughness that helps to minimize bugs and eliminate the post-launch cost for fixing the code
  • Faster app deployment by combining agile development processes that help deliver rapid app development with high ROI

2. What are some of the key mobile application testing types?

The common tests deployed on mobile applications are:

  • Usability testing
  • Compatibility testing
  • Performance and operational testing
  • Security testing
  • Low-level resource testing

3. What does a standard android testing framework look like?

Android testing framework primarily includes three segments:

  • Application package, which is the target application that requires to be tested
  • Instrumentation Testrunner that runs test cases on target applications and include SDK tools for building test, and a tool providing APIs for writing programs for controlling android device
  • Test package, which includes test case classes, and mock objects

4. What are some common bugs that are found while mobile testing?

  • Minor that usually contains GUI bugs
  • Major which restricts a function of a particular feature to perform rightly
  • Block that disables to execute anything though the device is switched on unless it is rebooted
  • Critical that leads to crashing of the phone system when a particular feature is being tested

Choosing the right tools for automated mobile app testing

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