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Mobile Application Performance Testing Guide

August 23, 2021
 by 
Prathitha IyengarPrathitha Iyengar
Prathitha Iyengar

Mobile applications are software programs designed specifically for your smartphone or tablet. It can be independent or web-based. As regards mobile apps, performance testing is a crucial element.

This blog post will discuss mobile app performance testing, tools that can help with performance testing, the performance metrics that need consideration, and the critical challenges experienced during performance testing.

In today's tech world, the number of mobile application users has increased rapidly due to the widespread popularity of smartphones. More than 5 billion people now operate mobile devices; among them, over half use smartphones; this is also why end-users expect a good response from their applications.

Performance testing has now become critical for mobile applications. Suppose an application goes live without being tested for performance. The end-user may face slow responses, low speed, less stability, scalability and reliability, and resource usage under workload issues. Performance testing helps mitigate such problems in production by thoroughly testing the application.

Performance testers need to run parallel tests of the system response on a range of devices, check an app's performance at peak traffic loads, and ensure it is stable even with a poor internet connection.

Mobile App Performance Testing Tools

Before you begin performance testing, it is essential to know the tools you can use. Here are a few that we recommend:

Wireshark

Wireshark is an open-source packet analyzer tool. You can use it for network analysis, communications and software protocols development, and troubleshooting. It lets you run the offline analysis by allowing you to capture data on the local network and save it.

Wireshark gathers network traffic from ethernet, Bluetooth, token ring, frame relay, and wireless. Since it runs on the libpcap format, it can use the same format to exchange network traces with CA NetMaster, tcpdump, and other similar applications.

Wireshark also lets you:

  • Browse captured data using a terminal or GUI
  • Capture data from a live network connection
  • Read live data from multiple network types
  • Create plug-ins for dissecting new protocols
  • Use command-line switches to capture or edit converted files
  • Refine data display using a display filter
  • Capture raw USB traffic
  • Assign timers and settings to filter the output
  • Filter wireless connection

You can use Wireshark to teach mobile applications about the network traffic layers so the application does not run without honoring proxy settings. You can observe the HTTP traffic to find and fix configuration issues by working at the network traffic level instead of the proxy. 

Akami CloudTest

Through user-based testing, an integrated load testing tool, CloudTest, makes gauging mobile app performance possible. It helps businesses by simulating events, global load assessment, dashboard customization, precision control, test creation, and more.

Alkami CloudTest has the following features:

  • Visual Test Creation: Through object-based scripting, you can set parameters, and validations, reuse and combine tests, insert conditionals, and much more without code.
  • Shift-left testing: Get automated "shift-left" testing by plugging into CI tools.
  • Customizable Dashboards: Get access to built-in dashboards or customize your dashboard with an easy-to-use dashboard builder. 
  • Elastic, Globally Distributed Environment: A globally distributed environment helps you accurately test your infrastructure and generate realistic production volume.
  • Visual Playback Editor: The playback editor lets you quickly drop tracks into the various cloud or on-premise locations. It allows you to configure geographic origin, repeats, virtual users, and more with just a few clicks.

HeadSpin

We are performance-focused and a heavy contributor to Appium. We support real devices running iOS and Android located worldwide. Our Appium test provides a plethora of metrics on our performance session report

Based on industrial objectives, our report highlights errors. It gives recommendations to work on, ensuring that you don't have to recover particular metrics by making commands or addressing your app. We also cover quantities like the MOS of a video. 

The 'HeadSpin Bridge,' crucial for mobile testing, allows users to link remote devices to their local machine via our CLI tool. This feature lets you run an adb against remote devices just like a local device, meaning our performance testing tool operates on Android or iOS devices, either native or cloud.

Set on a per-test basis, HeadSpin offers various alternatives, including network sharing, DNS spoofing, and header injection. We build custom dashboards using the performance data gathered on your devices.

Many other performance testing tools are available; some are open source, while others are premium. 

See:

  1. Free Tools for Mobile App Performance Testing with Appium
  2. Mobile App Performance Testing - Top Paid Tools and Services

Once you clearly understand which tool to pick, it's essential to get your performance testing strategy right. 

Performance Testing Strategy

Here is a comprehensive explanation of the testing process related to mobile app testing:

1. Align the Test Objectives with Business Requirements

Ensuring that the test objectives correspond to the business scope of building an app is essential to knowing the product architecture. The priority is to evaluate crucial app functions for generating leads, such as an e-commerce shopping cart and contact and registration forms.

2. Consider the Key Performance Identifiers and Matrices

You can determine the success or failure of test execution by setting testing benchmarks. Here are the KPIs to consider for application testing:

  • Average and maximum response time
  • Error rate
  • The highest volume of requests
  • Average output and users who are active at the same time per device as well as the operating system
  • Time-to-interactivity: The time an app takes to become usable after launch
  • Blank screen time during a user session
  • Loading animations time during a user session
  • Video quality
  • The time it takes to load applications fully

3. Create a Testing Environment

Before setting up the testing environment, you need to understand a mobile application, operating systems, or devices and the geographic location where you will test them. Thus, first, you need to create an environment with emulators and real devices. An emulator is a piece of software installed on the desktop that acts as a mobile device. Emulators are best for load-testing any mobile application and getting a prior sense of the look and feel of the interface.

After analyzing everything, select the load-testing tool to conduct performance tests. Quality assurance (QA) specialists use system emulators to understand the app-user experience.

4. Streamline the Testing Method with the Organization's Development Framework

The testing method you opt for must fit into an organization's development structure. In the agile approach, a tester implements continuous integration, and for the waterfall method, the tester should report bugs regularly and perform regression tests. Aligning the testing methodology improves communication and speeds up decision-making.

5. Fragmentation Testing

A development team must ensure that their app supports varied operating system versions. Outline the types of devices to help and run tests for those systems.

6. UX Testing

Prior UX testing is necessary for an app to be acceptable by an app store. A tester needs to look for an intuitive interface, straightforward navigation, app layout, and error handling.

7. Checking the App's Performance under Different Conditions

Performance quality varies for high- and low-end devices. Applications must be able to perform consistently on different lower-capacity devices. They should also be able to handle high server loads and be immune to bandwidth and latency changes. A tester also needs to check the application's response stability when the incoming traffic volume increases during load testing.

Challenges Faced during Performance Testing of Mobile Apps

Performance testing for mobile apps is challenging due to the variety of devices available, user mobility, and differences between device-based features. Here, we have listed the most common challenges testers face while performance testing mobile apps:

  1. Exorbitant Pricing: Many apps use mobile features, viz. camera, GPS, and microphone, making it difficult to test using an emulator. The mobile market is fragmented in capacity, screen dimensions, and in-built mobile features. Testing an app across multiple devices demands that a developer deploy more hardware, thus increasing the test budget.
  2. Network and Location: A QA takes network quality and user location into account for efficient testing. It is helpful to simulate networks like edge, 2G, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. With more mobile app use cases, performance testing becomes costly and time-consuming.
  3. Touch-screen Testing: Testing on physical hardware is difficult to automate as translating the entire range of touch-screen movements on a PC emulator is challenging.
  4. Organization: Testing a mobile application on different mobile devices needs the organization of all devices, such as Android, iOS, and Windows, based on their operating systems, resource consumption, available memory for test runs, and battery life.
  5. Customer Protocols: A tester has to consider customer protocols.

Other Challenges:

  1. Rapid scalability
  2. Lack of diagnostic tools
  3. Lack of mobile monitoring solutions
  4. Time to market
  5. Load-testing tool selection
  6. Testing environment
  7. High concurrency

Making Your Mobile App's Performance Testing Easy with HeadSpin

At HeadSpin, we offer testing services of mobile applications on thousands of devices connected to carrier networks across the world. The extensive list of devices we perform the tests on is listed here. We offer testing on several concurrent Android and iOS devices without any slowdown so that you can run the tests at your convenience.

Our QA team of certified professionals aims to optimize your digital experience by identifying and resolving performance issues across mobile applications.

Our team makes every effort to reduce testing costs and the time taken to market an app.

FAQs

Q1. What are the types of performance tests?

A:

  • Endurance testing – An app performance testing method that helps developers understand if the software can handle expected loads.
  • Volume testing – Volume testing ensures systems perform well while under large volumes of data.
  • Spike testing – Developers run spike tests to understand how their system will respond to a sudden influx of large load spikes.
  • Load testing – The main goal of load testing is to identify an app's performance bottlenecks before an organization launches it.
  • Stress testing – As the name suggests, developers run this test to observe an app's behavior under extreme stress to find out its breaking point.

Q2. What essential parameters do testers need to consider for performance testing?

A:

  • Bandwidth
  • Network output queue length
  • Processor usage
  • Response time
  • Memory usage
  • Memory pages
  • Thread counts
  • Committed memory

Q3. What is throughput?

A:

Throughput refers to a software's ability to process requests per second. You can calculate the amount of data transferred to a server in reports per year, hits per second, calls per day, etc. The throughput value determines the performance of an application.

Q4. What is the primary difference between a website and mobile app performance testing?

A:

Mobile app performance testing includes user conditions like background apps, sensor latency, and varying network conditions. Developers need to test these conditions across various devices and OS to get the best results.

Website performance tests focus on refresh rates, screen sizes, screen resolution across various browser OEMs, and page load times.

Mobile Application Performance Testing Guide

4 Parts