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Understanding Mobile Compatibility Testing: Why your application needs it

April 19, 2022
 by 
Avipsha Ghosh

Introduction

Digital transformation has supported businesses in reaching out to consumers across the globe. Smartphones have played a pivotal role in this journey. They were essential catalysts in globalization and have thus opened a vast doorway for small and medium companies to reach out to their target customers irrespective of their physical location. Mobile applications form the backbone of this communication chain. They facilitate easy interaction between the seller and the consumer, supporting the world business ecosystem.

Smartphone usage is only increasing by the day, which makes mobile app compatibility even more essential.


Although developed independently, hardware and software must complement each other in functionality for the smooth operation of the application. For instance, a web application created in HTML must operate on all devices, irrespective of the specifications. In mobile device compatibility testing, responsive applications are the most appreciated.

Although it sounds simple, the implementation is complex. There are numerous combinations of operating systems, versions, and browser types. These numbers are constantly increasing with the introduction of upgraded technology. Performing compatibility testing procedures can improve user experiences across mobile apps interfaces. 

Compatibility testing- what is it?

Compatibility testing ensures a software application is working as expected across different browsers, databases, operating systems (OS), mobile devices, networks, and hardware. It checks if your application will function as expected on your consumers’ devices.

Usability testing checks the look, feel and ease of use and is often confused with compatibility testing. However, these two are different processes. 

Compatibility testing enhances user experience and promotes better app usage metrics. Mobile compatibility testing checks and validates that your application performs as desired across various combinations of devices and browsers.

The importance of mobile compatibility testing

Planning and building applications consume time and resources to ensure a stellar user experience. There are several reasons why mobile compatibility testing helps optimize this consumption while making the process better.  

It is often challenging for any organization to arrange all different types of mobile devices and available versions, making it tedious for testers to check every device and version available. However, performing mobile device compatibility tests is mandatory before launching an app. Various text cycles have shown there are different kinds of compatibility related issues that impact user experience; these include:

  • Issues related to navigation: Mobile navigation often needs methods that differ from websites. This is because navigation processes vary for differing screen sizes and orientations. Navigating from one page to another on a small screen is complex as mobile navigation might require different designs and procedures with disparate demands and goals.
  • Issues related to content and layout: A website designed for a desktop view may not fit on a small mobile device screen. Thus, it is challenging to ensure the layout and content on different mobile devices work as desired. Responsive design can resolve these issues but will require more effort and resources to develop.
  • Issues related to size: Websites built for smaller screens like mobile phones require appropriate font, image, and attachment sizes. The same font size may look small on a desktop but could appear disproportionate on a mobile screen.
  • Issues related to functions and features: The same component behavior is difficult to predict for different devices and operating systems. The proper functionality should work for all device configurations and have minimal to no disruptions.

Furthermore, native apps have various problems that include installing and upgrading issues, problems related to having different versions of the application for each operating system, and depending more on the operating system than on the responsive web design applications.

Also check: A Quick Guide To Mobile Application Testing

The types of mobile compatibility testing

Most companies and organizations are trying to mobilize their company services with mobile applications to make these more accessible to the users. This has exponentially expanded the field of mobile application design and development, thereby becoming one of the many reasons why apps are successful in their user-friendliness. User interaction with the application determines the product's impact on its consumer.

Companies are constantly trying to make user-friendly applications with features that simplify functionality on multiple platforms and devices. Compatibility testing is performed before launching an app to ensure good operability. Respective teams work towards a bug-free and user-friendly mobile application- compatible with different devices, operating systems, and browser versions to ensure industry-standard software guidelines are being followed.

Compatibility testers can conduct mobile compatibility tests by understanding what it does and having an overall understanding of its different types, which are mentioned below:

  • Mobile operating systems, version, and hardware: This ensures that the mobile application is compatible with different hardware configurations and mobile operating systems. The application, irrespective of its OS (Android, iOS,) must deliver the same user experience. These tests also evaluate application performance across Windows, macOS, Linus, and other operating systems.
While iOS and Android rule the market, some other browsers are also used against which applications need to be tested.

  • Mobile app testing: This inspects if the developed mobile application is compatible with other apps.
  • Mobile networks: Mobile networks are wireless communication networks. So, the tester needs to review the application performance at predefined parameters, such as bandwidth, operating speed, and capacity.
  • Application in different browsers: This checks whether the developed application is running smoothly on mobile browsers or not. Browser compatibility testing ensures that the target audience can access the application without hassles. This includes popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, among others.
Testing the application's compatibility with the most popular browsers ensures market success. These are some of the highest-ranking browsers represented in this graph.

  • Mobile device compatibility testing: This test ensures that the application is compatible with the hardware capacities across different mobile devices. The app usability depends upon how well it can integrate itself with various devices available in the market.

Mobile applications should be compatible with different browsers installed on the devices so that the user can use the application while running the same in the browser without any inconsistency. This makes browser testing a necessary imperative for global appeal.

Solving the Compatibility Challenges

For quality assurance of a mobile application and to overcome various constraints, a few methods are suggested below:

  • Emulators and simulators significantly reduce the need for physical devices for testing. They can mimic the way real devices will work with the applications installed. This reduces the cost of fixing errors because it can catch glitches without involving multiple real devices.
  • The tester can generate an automatic script with their test cycle to ensure that the application is compatible with all devices, browsers, and OS and that they cover every functionality.
  • Another good practice is to share knowledge and collaborate to generate efficient tests. Since human errors and gaps in knowledge are possible, leveraging teams where there is proper communication is crucial.
Recommended Post: How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing UI Testing

Conclusion

Compatibility testing is a mandatory process in current times owing to the multitude of devices, browsers, and operating systems in the global tech space. Compatibility tests ensure a uniform look, feel, and functionality of the application across all platforms.

This helps to fix the usability issues at the early stages of product development, which results in an enhanced user experience and a cost-effective production process. Since multiple tools are available for compatibility testing, choosing the best one can be difficult. Therefore, it is advisable for a company to partner with a firm that provides compatibility testing services to facilitate the development of a user-friendly mobile application. The partnering organization will help to shortlist suitable compatibility testing infrastructure. It will also help in accelerating the entire testing process.

FAQs

1. What are the challenges which mobile testing can help counter?

Other than checking compatibility with different operating systems and platforms, mobile testing also tests the performance of an app against issues like network problems (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, and even 2G sometimes), simultaneous use of apps, memory leakage issues, memory leakage problems, and battery consumption issues. 

2. What is the difference between mobile device compatibility testing and mobile browser testing?

While mobile device compatibility testing checks the performance of applications across different operating systems of devices, mobile browser testing checks similar functionality details across multiple browsers. The latter is of more importance for mobile websites.  

3. What are the kinds of mobile application tests usually done?

Mobile compatibility testing generally goes through the following processes:

  • Usability Testing
  • Interface Testing
  • Compatibility Testing
  • Installation Testing
  • Performance Testing
  • Security Testing
  • Operational Testing

4. Are our compatibility testing and usability testing different?

Yes. Although these are often confused as synonymous terms, compatibility and usability testing processes are fundamentally different. Usability testing checks the look, feel and ease of use, while compatibility testing checks whether or not the hardware and software will allow the application to work correctly without any hindrance.