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A guide to mobile app QA testing

A Deep Dive into Mobile App Quality Assurance Testing

August 24, 2023
 Rohith Ramesh Rohith Ramesh
Rohith Ramesh

The contrast in retention between top-performing apps and others is significant. According to Quettra, the average app loses over 95% of its new users within the first 90 days. This alarming number underscores why mobile app Quality Assurance (QA) is essential, as it ensures the functionality, usability, and reliability that can prevent such substantial user attrition.

In the competitive landscape of mobile applications, quality assurance is not just a necessity; it’s a strategic imperative. Consumers today have a plethora of app choices, and even a minor glitch or inconvenience can lead them to abandon the app for a competitor’s product.

Read: Top Tools for Mobile Testing

What is quality assurance?

Mobile app quality assurance is a systematic process that ensures the application’s adherence to predefined quality standards and specifications. It involves a series of testing and inspection activities to detect and rectify errors, inconsistencies, and any aspects that could impair the app’s performance, usability, security, and overall user satisfaction.

An example: The importance of quality assurance can be found in the launch of a prominent banking app. When initially released, users found the login process cumbersome and non-intuitive. Furthermore, some users faced issues with the security protocols, which were overly complicated. The bank’s quality assurance team swiftly identified these problems through rigorous testing, gathering user feedback, and analyzing app performance metrics. Through a series of updates, the team enhanced the user interface, streamlined the login process, and fine-tuned security measures to balance safety and user convenience. As a result, the app’s user ratings improved significantly, and the number of downloads substantially increased.

The collaboration between developers, testers, and stakeholders is vital in this process, as is a deep understanding of the target audience, the devices they use, the networks they connect to, and the unique challenges and opportunities presented by mobile platforms.

Importance of mobile app QA

Mobile app quality assurance (QA) plays an indispensable role in the development, launch, and ongoing success of mobile applications. Its importance can be captured through five critical points that highlight not only its functional relevance but its strategic value in the highly competitive app marketplace:

  • Enhancing user experience: In a world where user satisfaction can make or break an app, QA in mobile testing ensures that every interaction is seamless, intuitive, and pleasurable. By simulating real-world user conditions and scenarios, QA identifies potential roadblocks, frustrations, or inefficiencies that can be addressed before they ever reach the end user. A well-tested app offers a delightful user journey that fosters loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Ensuring robust performance: Mobile users today are impatient with slow or crashing apps. QA meticulously tests an app under various network conditions, device types, and user loads to ensure it performs optimally at all times. Any lag, freeze, or unexpected termination is a scar on the app’s reputation, but QA helps developers to find and fix these issues, promising a consistent and high-performing user experience.
  • Safeguarding security and privacy: With cyber threats rising and regulations becoming stringent, an app’s security can’t be an afterthought. Mobile QA probes the app for vulnerabilities that could expose sensitive user data. Whether it’s secure login, encrypted transactions, or compliance with privacy laws, QA helps build trust, an invaluable currency in the digital age.
  • Facilitating cross-platform compatibility: Users access apps on a dizzying array of devices, operating systems, and screen sizes. QA in mobile testing ensures that the app provides a consistent experience across this fragmented landscape. It ensures that whether a user is on the latest smartphone or a budget tablet, the experience is unaltered, the design is responsive, and the functionalities are intact. In an inclusive digital world, nobody should be left behind.
  • Mitigating post-launch risks: Launching an app isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning. Post-launch issues can lead to negative reviews, a declining user base, and tarnished brand image. QA in mobile testing minimizes this risk by foreseeing potential problems and addressing them preemptively. It’s like having a reliable navigator on an unpredictable voyage, guiding the app safely through the turbulent waters of real-world use.

In essence, mobile quality assurance is more than a set of testing protocols; it’s a philosophy that puts the user at the heart of the app’s universe. A commitment to excellence resonates in every swipe, click, or tap. It’s a relentless pursuit of perfection that doesn’t just find bugs but elevates an app from being merely functional to being truly exceptional. In the crowded app marketplace

How are mobile app quality assurance and quality control different?

Quality assurance Quality control
Nature and focus
Quality assurance is a proactive and process-oriented approach. It focuses on preventing defects by establishing a set of guidelines and best practices that govern the entire development process. Quality control, on the other hand, is reactive and product-oriented. It emphasizes detecting and fixing defects in the finished product through various testing methods.
Quality assurance takes place throughout the development life cycle. From the design phase to deployment, it continuously evaluates and refines the process to ensure quality is embedded in every stage. Quality control generally occurs later in the development process, usually during or after the coding phase, where specific parts or the entire application are tested to ensure they meet the requirements.
Quality assurance is often the responsibility of the entire team, including developers, testers, managers, and even stakeholders. It’s a collaborative effort where everyone contributes to creating a culture of quality. Quality control typically falls under the domain of a specialized testing team whose primary role is to identify and rectify errors in the developed application.
Tools and techniques
Quality assurance uses methodologies like process management, continuous integration, and agile practices to create an environment where quality is inherent. Quality control employs specific testing techniques, such as manual testing, automated testing, performance testing, etc., to validate the final product against the defined specifications.
Quality assurance aims to build a robust process that minimizes the likelihood of errors occurring in the first place. It is about creating a quality product by following a quality process. Quality control ensures that if errors do occur, they are identified and corrected before the product reaches the end-user. It validates that the final product aligns with the expected quality standards.

Recommended reading: Navigating the Age of Digital Acceleration by Leveraging Robust QA Automation

Strategies for mobile app QA testing

Quality assurance testing for mobile apps is a complex task that requires a carefully thought-out strategy. An effective approach not only ensures that the final product meets the required standards but also contributes to an optimized development process. Here are some effective strategies for quality assurance testing in the mobile app domain:

1. Understanding user requirements: Start by thoroughly understanding the user requirements and expectations. Collaborate with stakeholders and analyze user personas to create detailed and precise requirements that guide the entire QA process.

2. Early involvement: Engage QA teams early in the development lifecycle. Early testing helps in identifying potential issues at the outset, leading to quicker resolutions and a more streamlined development process

3. Adopting automation: Implementing automated testing can significantly increase efficiency, especially for regression and repetitive testing. Selecting the right tools and frameworks that align with the project needs is essential for automation success.

4. Emphasizing cross-platform compatibility: Ensure that the app performs consistently across different devices, OS versions, screen sizes, and orientations. Utilizing cloud based testing platforms that offer access to real devices can be valuable for compatibility testing.

5. Integrating continuous testing: Integrating continuous testing within the Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline ensures that code changes are automatically tested. This promotes a more agile and responsive development environment.

6. Focusing on performance and security: Load and stress testing help ensure that the app can handle real-world user loads. Security testing, including penetration tests, is vital to ensure that user data is protected and that the app complies with relevant regulations.

7. Utilizing real devices for testing: While simulators and emulators are valuable, testing on real devices provides insights into how the app will function in actual user conditions. It can uncover issues that may not appear in simulated environments.

8. Iterative testing with agile methodology: Adopting an Agile approach allows for iterative development and testing. This helps quickly adapt to changes and ensures that the app evolves with continuous feedback and refinement.

9. Monitoring post-release: Continuous monitoring after the app’s release provides insights into how users interact with the app in real-world conditions. It helps in identifying unexpected issues and areas for improvement.

10. Emphasizing collaboration and communication: Promote strong communication between developers, testers, product managers, and other stakeholders. Collaborative efforts lead to a more coherent understanding of goals and a more effective QA process.

11. Maintaining comprehensive documentation: Documenting the test cases, outcomes, and changes ensures that the entire team is aligned and that the QA process is transparent and reproducible.

12. Focusing on user experience (UX) testing: The user’s interaction with the app must be intuitive and engaging. Conducting UX testing with real users can provide valuable insights into the overall user experience.

13. Compliance with regulations: If the app falls under specific regulatory guidelines, compliance testing ensures that all legal and regulatory standards are met.

14. Regular review and improvement: Continuously assess and update the QA strategy to align with new technologies, market trends, and user expectations.

Tools for Mobile App QA testing: How HeadSpin helps streamline QA testing?

Mobile app QA testing is a multifaceted task that requires specialized tools to effectively and efficiently assess an application’s quality. A wide array of tools catering to different aspects of testing is available, and integrating them with contemporary QA methodologies ensures robust mobile applications.

Common tools for mobile app QA testing

1. Automated testing tools: Selenium, Appium, and Calabash are popular for automating functional testing, allowing for repeated, consistent testing across devices and platforms.

2. Performance testing tools: Tools like JMeter and LoadRunner help in evaluating the app’s performance under different network conditions, user loads, and device types.

3. Security testing tools: OWASP ZAP and Fortify are used to identify vulnerabilities in the code that could be exploited, ensuring that the app adheres to security best practices.

4. Cross-platform testing tools: Tools like Xamarin and TestComplete allow testing across different platforms (iOS, Android) using the same code base, saving time and effort.

5. Continuous integration tools: Jenkins, CircleCI facilitate continuous integration and continuous testing, ensuring that changes in codes are automatically built, tested, and ready for deployment.

How does HeadSpin help?

HeadSpin’s data science driven Platform is a game-changer in the industry, streamlining mobile app QA and enhancing various aspects of quality assurance. From real-world device testing to performance optimization and seamless integration with existing workflows, HeadSpin adds significant value to the mobile app QA process, aligning to deliver an app that satisfies and delights its users.

1. Performance insights: With AI-driven testing insights and analytics, HeadSpin identifies performance bottlenecks and provides actionable insights to improve the app’s speed, responsiveness, and overall performance.

2. Real-device testing: HeadSpin provides access to real devices worldwide, enabling testing on actual devices under real-world conditions. This gives an accurate understanding of how the app behaves across different devices, regions, and networks.

3. Automation support: It integrates with popular automation frameworks, enabling automated testing that can be scaled across numerous devices and platforms. This ensures consistent and thorough testing, freeing human testers to focus on more complex issues.

4. Continuous integration compatibility: HeadSpin can be integrated into continuous integration workflows, allowing for seamless, ongoing testing as part of the development process. This ensures that every issue is detected and addressed early in the development cycle.

5. User experience analysis: By providing visual and audio feedback, as well as detailed logs and metrics, HeadSpin allows for a comprehensive analysis of the user experience. This helps uncover usability issues and improve the app's overall user journey.

6. Collaboration features: It enables collaboration between QA, development, and product teams, providing a unified platform where everyone can view test results, share insights, and work together to enhance the app’s quality.

Bottom line

QA in mobile app testing drives excellence, user-centricity, and meticulous attention to detail. The multifaceted strategies encompassing automation, cross-platform compatibility, user experience, security, and continuous monitoring form a robust framework that resonates with the user’s expectations and the market’s dynamism. Mobile app QA testing is not just a best practice but a necessity. It’s an investment in the app’s credibility, usability, and sustainability. It’s a commitment to delivering products that don’t just meet standards but set them.

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Q1. What is the “Monkey Testing” technique in mobile app QA?

Ans: Monkey testing is a stress testing technique where the app is subjected to random inputs (like random taps and swipes) to ensure it can handle unexpected user behaviors without crashing.

Q2. How are gesture-based interactions tested?

Ans: Gesture testing ensures that touch-based interactions (like pinch, zoom, and swipe) are responsive and intuitive. It may involve both manual touch interactions and automation tools that can simulate various gestures.

A Deep Dive into Mobile App Quality Assurance Testing

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