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A holistic guide to mobile app testing

A Mobile Application Testing Guide for Optimizing Apps

July 18, 2023
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

Mobile app testing includes testing applications for functionality, usability, and consistency. This enables testers and QA teams to ensure the app meets its requirements and provides a good user experience across various devices, operating systems, and network environments. Recently, enterprises are focusing significantly on automated mobile app testing that further enhances outcomes by increasing test coverage, improving accuracy, reducing time and cost, enabling continuous testing, facilitating regression testing, and providing scalability.

Navigate in-depth through mobile application testing and learn about its importance, effective deployment strategies, and how mobile app testing tools help develop perfect mobile apps to improve user experience and business outcomes.

What do you mean by mobile app testing?

Mobile application testing is an essential process that evaluates various components of a mobile application to ensure optimal functionality, performance, and user experience. The goal is to identify and rectify potential issues before releasing the app.

Mobile app testing includes testing the following components:

  • User Interface (UI): This verifies the app's intuitiveness, responsiveness, and navigability.
  • Functionality: This ensures that all the app's features operate as expected.
  • Responsiveness: This checks the app's smooth functioning under different conditions.
  • Device compatibility: This tests the app's performance across various devices and operating systems.
  • Connectivity: This examines the app's operation on different network types and transitions.
  • Data handling: This looks at how the app stores, retrieves and manages data.
  • Security: This validates the app's security mechanisms to protect user data.
  • User experience: This assesses user interaction, ease of use, and overall satisfaction.
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Why are businesses focusing on mobile app testing today?

Mobile applications have emerged as an essential touchpoint between businesses and their customers. As companies strive to create more engaging, intuitive, and secure mobile experiences, the focus on comprehensive mobile application testing has intensified. 

Businesses today are increasingly focusing on mobile application testing due to several compelling reasons:

  • Expanding user base: With the rapid proliferation of smartphones, more consumers are using mobile apps to access services. Ensuring a smooth user experience is key to retaining this broad user base.
  • Rising customer expectations: Modern customers expect seamless, intuitive, responsive app experiences. Rigorous mobile application testing helps meet these high expectations by ensuring optimal functionality, speed, and design.
  • Business reputation: A buggy or poorly functioning app can harm a company's reputation and lead to lost business. Regular app testing helps mitigate this risk by identifying and resolving issues before they reach the end user.
  • Security concerns: With the increasing amount of sensitive data handled by apps, security has become a prime concern. Mobile application testing helps identify and fix potential security vulnerabilities to protect user data.
  • Competition: The highly competitive app market leaves no room for errors. Businesses need to ensure their app works flawlessly across devices and operating systems, which mobile app testing enables.
  • Cost-effective: Identifying and fixing issues during development is less expensive and time-consuming than making corrections after launch.

What are the primary types of mobile apps?

Mobile applications primarily fall into three categories based on the technology used for development:

1. Native apps: These are applications developed for specific platforms, such as Android or iOS. They take full advantage of the device's features and offer high performance and a better user experience. However, they require a separate codebase for each platform, which increases development time and cost.

2. Web apps: These are responsive websites that adjust their interface to fit the device's screen. They are developed through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and can be easily accessed through any web browser on a mobile device. These require a stable internet connection to function and don't have access to all device features.

3. Hybrid apps: These are a combination of web and native apps developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript but are wrapped inside a native container that allows them to access device features. Depending on their design, they can function with or without an internet connection. 

Each type of mobile app has its own benefits and limitations, and the choice between them depends on the requirements of the business, such as the desired user experience, development cost, time-to-market, and available resources.

Read: User Experience Testing - A Complete Guide

Why do we require mobile app testing? 

The practice of mobile application testing has become increasingly vital in today's digital age, where user satisfaction and data protection are of paramount importance for businesses across industries.

  • Enhanced user experience: In the digital age, user experience (UX) is paramount. It's not merely about providing functionality but delivering it intuitively and seamlessly. Mobile application testing delves into the heart of the application, examining its usability, navigation, and design. The goal is to eliminate any potential roadblocks in the user journey, optimizing the app's interface for effortless interactions. A well-tested, user-friendly app can significantly enhance user satisfaction and, ultimately, user retention.
  • Reliability and stability: The credibility of an application hinges on its reliability and stability. Consumers expect apps to work flawlessly, regardless of usage scenarios or environments. Mobile app testing ensures the stability of the app under various conditions, including different network scenarios, device types, and user interactions. The result is a robust application that maintains its integrity under stress, enhancing user trust and the app's market reputation.
  • Security assurance: Data security is a top priority today. Users entrust their personal and financial information to apps, and any breach can lead to significant reputational damage. Through thorough security testing, vulnerabilities are identified, and measures are implemented to fortify the app against potential threats. This not only safeguards the user's data but also fortifies the app's standing in the eyes of its users.
  • Performance optimization: Slow load times, lagging responsiveness, or excessive battery usage can all spell doom for an app. Performance testing takes center stage to identify and resolve these potential bottlenecks. Deploying the mobile app automation testing techniques drive performance enhancement that leads to the creation of a smooth, fast, and power-efficient application. The automation testing team can collaborate with developers to implement performance optimizations, such as optimizing algorithms, improving network requests, or reducing memory usage. With this, users are more likely to have a positive experience with an app that performs well, leading to increased user satisfaction, retention, and, ultimately, the success of the application.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Fixing bugs during the later stages of development or after deployment can lead to skyrocketing costs. Mobile app automation testing, particularly when integrated early in the software development life cycle, aids in detecting issues when they're easier and cheaper to rectify. This early intervention can save significant resources and efforts down the line.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: With a plethora of devices, operating systems, and screen sizes available today, it's crucial for an app to deliver a consistent experience across all platforms. Mobile application testing verifies this uniform performance, ensuring that the app caters to a broad user base, irrespective of their device or OS.
  • Market readiness: The app market is fiercely competitive, making speed-to-market a crucial factor for success. Comprehensive mobile application testing expedites the process of bug identification and resolution, reducing the time-to-market. By ensuring the app is bug-free and market-ready in a shorter time frame, businesses can gain a competitive edge.

Importance of automating mobile application testing today

Automating mobile app testing is crucial in today's fast-paced development cycles. It significantly reduces the time and effort required in manual testing, thus accelerating product releases. Mobile app's automated testing practices enable comprehensive testing, improving app quality by catching bugs and performance issues early in development. It also ensures consistency, as it eliminates the risk of human error. Finally, it frees up the development team to focus on more complex, value-adding tasks, making the entire process more efficient and productive. In essence, mobile app automation testing is no longer a luxury but a necessity for maintaining competitiveness in the app market.

Types of mobile app testing

Mobile applications are tested rigorously to assess functionality, usability, and performance to ensure perfect end-user experiences. However, this is not possible to attain with a single kind of testing and thus involves a wide array of tests to ensure every feature, component, and aspect of the mobile app undergoes meticulous scrutiny, validating the app's overall quality.

Mobile application testing involves various types, each focusing on a different aspect of the application. Here's an elaboration of the main types:

1. Functional testing: This is the most basic type of testing, validating if the app is working as per its intended functionalities. It checks all the app features to ensure they operate as expected, from user interface interactions to database processes.

2. Usability testing: This type focuses on the user experience. It checks the app's intuitiveness, efficiency, and ease of use. A great user experience is essential for any app's success, making usability testing crucial.

3. Performance testing: It checks the app's response time, speed, resource usage, and reliability under a variety of network conditions. It ensures that the app functions smoothly even under heavy load and can help identify any performance bottlenecks.

Performance testing consists of several different testing types, each with a unique focus:

  • Load testing: This checks how the application behaves under a specific expected load. It involves simulating multiple users accessing the application simultaneously to identify how the system handles high traffic.
  • Stress testing: This pushes the application beyond its intended capacity to identify its breaking point. Stress testing helps to identify issues that only emerge under extreme conditions, providing insight into potential weak spots in the application's architecture.
  • Volume testing: Here, the application is subjected to a large volume of data in its database to examine its handling and responsiveness. This helps identify any potential slowdowns or crashes due to data overload.
  • Soak testing: This long-term test checks the system's performance under a continuous expected load. It's essential for identifying memory leaks or other issues that may emerge over time.
  • Spike testing: It assesses the application's performance during sudden increases and decreases in user load, verifying its capability to handle unexpected traffic spikes.
  • Scalability testing: This test validates the application's ability to scale up in terms of data volume, user load, or transaction count, helping to plan for growth and anticipate future performance.

4. Security testing: This type checks for any vulnerabilities in the app that could lead to data leakage or unauthorized access. With cyber threats becoming more prevalent, security testing has become more important than ever.

5. Interface testing: This testing type examines the graphical user interface of the app, ensuring it's intuitive, responsive, and user-friendly. It checks elements like buttons, images, forms, and other visual components.

6. Compatibility testing: This testing type checks the app's compatibility with different devices, operating systems, screen sizes, and browsers. It's essential in our diversified digital landscape, where users use a wide range of devices and platforms.

7. Localization testing: If your app is meant for a global audience, it must be adaptable to various locales and languages. Localization testing ensures the app's content, layout, and features are suitable for different regions and cultures.

8. Regression testing: This is performed after modifications or updates to the app to ensure that the changes haven't adversely affected existing features. It helps maintain the app's quality as it evolves.

Each testing type plays a vital role in ensuring an application's overall quality, usability, and performance, making comprehensive testing a fundamental part of the app development process.

Also read: Why Mobile App Testing Is Crucial for Delivering Superior User Experiences

What is the importance of cross-platform or cross-browser testing today in mobile app testing?

Users today access applications through a wide array of devices, operating systems, and browsers. With this diversity comes the necessity for developers to ensure their applications function seamlessly across different environments - this is where cross-platform or cross-browser testing becomes critical in mobile application testing.

Cross-platform testing is the process of testing whether a mobile application operates consistently and as intended across various operating systems like iOS, Android, or Windows. On the other hand, cross-browser testing examines an application's compatibility with different web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

The importance of this form of testing cannot be overstated. It allows developers to verify their application's functionality and design consistency across different platforms and browsers, ensuring a uniform and satisfying user experience. In other words, it ascertains that an Android user and an iOS user have the same smooth experience when using the app.

In addition, it's critical for resolving potential platform or browser-specific issues. Every platform or browser processes information differently and has unique characteristics and specifications. Through cross-platform or cross-browser testing, inconsistencies and issues that may arise due to these differences can be proactively identified and rectified.

In an era where customer satisfaction is pivotal, delivering a consistent and high-quality user experience is essential regardless of the device, operating system, or browser. Consequently, cross-platform or cross-browser testing stands as a fundamental pillar of mobile app testing.

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What are the effective strategies for performing mobile app testing?

No test can render optimal results unless strategized properly. While implementing mobile app testing, it is critical that enterprises craft a well-thought strategy to execute the tests effectively and obtain the best possible results. 

Following are some strategies that help make mobile application testing more effective—

  • Understanding the target audience: Knowing who the users will be and what devices and operating systems they are likely to use is crucial. The application should be tested on these platforms to ensure optimal user experience.
  • Choosing the right testing types: Depending on the app, it may require functional testing, performance testing, usability testing, and more. The testing strategy should cover all necessary testing types.
  • Automation where appropriate: Automated mobile app testing can save time and resources, especially for regression tests, load tests, and repeated tasks. However, it shouldn't replace manual testing completely, as human intuition and observation are key in certain scenarios.
  • Simulate real-world conditions: Test the application under various network conditions, device orientations, and battery levels. This will help in understanding how the app performs under different situations.
  • Prioritizing test scenarios: Based on usage patterns and business criticality, prioritize your test scenarios. Critical path testing should be done to test the paths users are most likely to take.
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD): Implementing CI/CD practices allows for quicker identification of issues and continuous improvement of the product.
  • Performance and load testing: Ensure your app can handle peak load, responds quickly, and does not consume unnecessary resources.
  • Security testing: Given the sensitive data many apps handle, rigorous security testing is vital. This will help identify vulnerabilities and ensure data privacy.
  • Beta testing: Before the final release, a beta version should be tested by a select group of end-users. Their feedback will provide valuable insights into real-world functionality and user-friendliness.
  • Keeping up with updates: Mobile platforms and environments are continuously evolving. Ensure your app remains compatible with updates to operating systems, devices, and trends like dark mode or new screen sizes.

An effective strategy is all about balancing different testing methods, considering user scenarios, and continuous improvement.

Check: How Does Appium Facilitate Mobile App Testing Across Multiple Operating Systems?

Why is it beneficial to test mobile apps on real devices?

The significance of testing mobile apps on real devices lies in their ability to offer a realistic user experience, accurately assess hardware-software interactions, account for device fragmentation, manage various network conditions, measure performance effectively, and identify real-time bugs. By testing on real devices, one can capture the genuine feel of how the application behaves in real-world scenarios, thus gaining invaluable insights into the app's aesthetics and user experience. These tests also enable verification of interactions between the app and the device's hardware, such as the GPS, camera, or other device-specific features, which cannot be adequately tested on simulators or emulators. 

Furthermore, given the multitude of devices on the market, each with unique screen sizes, resolutions, operating systems, and hardware capabilities, real-device testing is crucial to ensure compatibility and seamless functionality across a broad range of devices. Additionally, real devices facilitate testing under various network conditions and transitions, such as the transition from 3G to 4G or from Wi-Fi to cellular data, conditions that are hard to replicate accurately on emulators. 

Moreover, performance metrics like speed, battery consumption, and memory usage can be assessed most precisely on real devices. Lastly, using actual devices for testing helps uncover and rectify certain bugs or issues that only surface in a real-world environment. Despite the higher costs and complexities involved compared to testing on emulators or simulators, testing on real devices is indispensable for developing a high-quality, bug-free, and user-friendly mobile application.

Also check: Boosting Application Efficiency with Network Performance Monitoring

How does HeadSpin enable companies to perform mobile app testing?

HeadSpin offers its holistic data science driven platform to help test and debug your applications on thousands of devices around the world remotely and securely.

1. Test on real devices remotely 

  • HeadSpin enables enterprises to perform automated mobile app testing on real networks leveraging actual devices on our global device infrastructure
  • With HeadSpin, testers can enable remote device control and debugging to access and debug mobile apps on real devices from their desktop or phones without SDK or local team support.
  • HeadSpin allows you to choose the most popular devices for testing from a vast range of mobile devices and tablets, including iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Pixel, Xiaomi, and others.

2. Run multiple tests on mobile apps parallelly

  • Enterprises are able to leverage real devices instead of emulators and simulators and run reliable test sessions on real devices.
  • With HeadSpin, teams can test on as many concurrent iOS or Android devices as they want without any slowdown. Also, schedule your tests at your convenience.

3. Automate test cases with HeadSpin's integration capabilities

  • HeadSpin helps integrate with automated testing frameworks, such as Appium, Selenium, and Appium Inspector. 
  • Enterprises are enabled to seamlessly integrate with their continuous integration and deployment environments, including Jenkins, Travis CI, with HeadSpin.
  • HeadSpin helps integrate with your business intelligence tools and dashboards easily. The entire data is exported via API and SQL tables. This enables the user to promptly monitor the user experience and performance data through business intelligence dashboards.
  • HeadSpin allows to capture data from all tests across all the frameworks to offer a single dashboard of all your test results.

4. Monitor and test custom KPIs for the mobile apps

- With HeadSpin, you can test for localization, context, and cultural correctness and grasp cultural specifics, e-commerce practices, location-specific data, translations, and more. 

- HeadSpin supports developers in capturing custom Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for their mobile apps. It helps track hundreds of business-specific KPIs, including:

  • User engagement metrics like session length, active users, churn rate, loading animation, low page content, and much more
  • Performance metrics like server response times, latency, memory usage
  • Quality and user experience metrics like crash rate, bug rate, and other technical indicators of the app's stability and reliability
  • Video and streaming content quality metrics, including HeadSpin's reference-free Video MOS that is based on computer vision and machine learning
  • HeadSpin enables real-time audio playback and microphone quality. This feature is especially useful for speech-enabled apps and audio streaming services, as you can gauge audio quality in diverse regions across the world.
  • HeadSpin further provides professional services support for scripting, dashboard creation, performance tests, weekly reports, and more.

5. Detect, reproduce, and fix bugs proactively

  • HeadSpin empowers businesses to identify and rectify bugs across client-server communications easily. With HeadSpin, there is no need for billions of logs! HeadSpin's platform offers comprehensive AI driven testing insights into potential performance bottlenecks across server, CDN, network, and device levels, simplifying bug resolution. It saves time by eliminating the need to recreate UX and performance problems repeatedly. 
  • With HeadSpin, you can also perform tests in development environments, offering a more efficient method of local testing. Its local testing feature enables you to scrutinize your apps in development and staging settings. Any server calls your application makes over these networks will work flawlessly, with no setup required.
  • HeadSpin also facilitates smart app management, ensuring that the same build is never uploaded twice. You can simply choose from pre-existing team uploads to start testing instantly. With automatic device and OS compatibility checks, it keeps all app versions at your fingertips for efficient, hassle-free testing.

6. Access real devices across the world with the global device infrastructure 

  • HeadSpin empowers you with access to thousands of real mobile testing devices on actual SIM-enabled devices through a secure, global device cloud. 
  • HeadSpin enables the testing of real user experience globally with any combination of operating systems, devices, and networks. Add new locations instantly.
  • HeadSpin offers a flexible distributed system. The proprietary mobile application testing tool, backed by custom hardware, allows immediate and secure scaling of the remote testing efforts. Testers and QA teams can connect with their remote devices securely and monitor non-noise interfered data through HeadSpin's proprietary RF-compliant hardware and custom USB hub. 

In the dynamic world of mobile apps, ensuring seamless functionality and usability is paramount. Mobile app testing is the keystone in the creation of effective, efficient, and enjoyable mobile applications. It highlights potential pitfalls, optimizes performance, and, ultimately, can make or break the user experience. With a wide variety of testing types, strategies, and tools like HeadSpin available, developers are better equipped than ever to deliver top-tier mobile applications. As mobile technologies keep evolving, so will the approaches to testing, advancing towards more comprehensive and automated mobile app testing solutions. Test, optimize, and test again. Leverage HeadSpin and ensure the best end-user experiences with HeadSpin.

Pinpoint performance bottlenecks and fix issues to optimize app performance and offer a perfect user experience.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How is mobile app testing different from web app testing?

Ans: Mobile app testing focuses on applications specifically designed for mobile devices and considers factors like different operating systems, screen sizes, and mobile-specific functionalities. In contrast, web app testing involves checking applications accessed via web browsers on various devices, focusing on elements like browser compatibility, response time, and usability on different devices and operating systems.

Q2. Why is memory and battery usage critical in app testing?

Ans: Memory and battery usage testing is crucial in mobile app development. It ensures the app operates efficiently, preventing crashes or slowdowns that impact the user experience. If an app drains battery rapidly, users may limit their usage, affecting engagement rates. High memory and battery usage can also indicate underlying issues within the app, like memory leaks or excessive background processes. Consequently, testing for these aspects allows optimization, leading to a more user-friendly, power-efficient application.

A Mobile Application Testing Guide for Optimizing Apps

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