The Mobile App Testing boom is obvious and it is pretty clear they are here to stay. The smart-phones are rapidly becoming the primary method of interaction for consumers and businesses worldwide, with thousands of app being generated each day. Mobile goes beyond smart-phones and tablets. Apps are now being incorporated into cars, wearable tech and home appliances.
Mobile App Testing Challenges
Today’s mobile applications deliver complex functionality on platforms that have limited resources for computing. The movement towards mobile devices has brought a whole different set of challenges to the Mobile App testing world. Mobile users are not forgiving and finding an issue out in the wild might mean leaving the application for good. Diversity presents unique challenges that require unique testing strategies.
Device Fragmentation & Various OS Platforms
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the mobile app testing matrix is Device fragmentation. Whether testing on 5-8 devices is enough? Over 500m Android devices shipped since Android 1.0, about 220m iOS devices have been shipped since 2007. Devices ranging from handsets, to smart phones, to tabs, to iPad and wearable tech provides a huge diversity of environments – Shapes and sizes, Screen resolution, Input methods, CPU, Memory, OS optimization and hardware could be different.
Though the iOS device matrix is growing more than ever, fragmentation is especially an issue for the Android operating system. If you’re concerned with quality on cross-platform apps, you’ll encounter a similarly complicated matrix. Although less daunting than the hardware matrix, the variety of mobile operating systems also poses a challenge for engineering teams whose goal is to provide a consistent user experience across platforms. The number of possible permutations is intimidating.
Mobile App Types
Mobile apps come in a few different flavors. Apps can be Native, Web, or Hybrid- and the testing implementation changes drastically with each one. Aside from having a different architecture, apps can have significantly different functionality, performance, and capabilities. As a result, the app behavior differs from installation to functionality and the combination of process, methodology, and tools is very different for the different types of mobile app testing.
Mobile Network Operators
At the moment there are more than 400 Mobile Network Operators in the world, using different network standards and different kinds of network infrastructure. The performance of a carrier’s network can have a huge impact on the user’s experience with an app. This is another factor beyond the hardware and software that, nevertheless, must be taken into consideration for Mobile App Testing.
There are several standards for mobile data connections (edge, umts, 3G, 4G) as well as for WiFi (b, g, n). Sometimes there might be no connection available at all or the device is in flight mode. When users move around the connection type might change. Even though connection API’s on mobile platforms have been developed keeping those challenges in mind, the real world environment is still very much varying and interesting set of issues may occur. It’s important to test the bandwidth usage as not all carriers are supporting unlimited data volumes.
Time to Market
The rapid growth of the mobile app market comes with an expectation of equally rapid roll-outs of application improvements and bug fixes. Mobile apps continuously evolve based on reviews & feedback for delivering richer user experience or enhance functionalities causing frequent changes in application.
The fast release cycles of mobile applications make it difficult for QA teams to ensure test coverage and high quality standards. Shrunk timelines reduces available time for mobile app testing. One solution to maintain App Quality is test automation and regression testing.
Test Automation & Variety of Tools
Automation is still a big question for mobile app testing. The reason mainly, frequent changes in application causing frequent changes in test scripts. Summarizing the daunting complexity of mobile test automation, even more daunting is the huge availability of mobile test automation tools in the market. Free/Paid. For native app or web app? For android or for iOS, so which is the one automation tool for your mobile test automation needs, or the question is – Is there a single tool for our Mobile Test automation needs?
Mobile Automation is evolving and there is variety of tools available in the market. The right tool selection and creating a robust framework is the challenge to be addressed. The options – Private Lab, or hire an external test lab or explore the cloud mobile lab solutions. Many companies like MobileLabs, Xamarin Test Cloud & SauceLabs have already started venturing into it.
The very character of Mobile emulators and simulators means testing is being conducted in an environment which is not real. The advantages of such tools are limited in scope, and should never be considered a substitute for real-world.
Usability is one of the key drivers of a mobile application’s success (or failure) and is one of the hardest to test. The biggest problem is usually trying to fit all features and information into a much smaller space. It’s challenging to keep the interaction clean and simple for the user, and at the same time display all the necessary information. Minute details down to font size, readability, and click area size are all things that need to be tested for during the Mobile App Testing.
Furthermore, the mobility of users and the fact that they are moving around while using apps can be seen as a problem for app developers and testers as the user requires an internet connection to fetch data from the back-end and serve the user with updates and information.
App Localization / Internationalization
The international use of apps marks an important challenge in mobile app testing. As many apps are developed for international markets – apart from the mere translation of contents –regional traits, time zones and target audiences must be taken into account. Also the Arabic script or other right-to-left languages can be a serious problem for developers and testers.
The apps are susceptible to several security trespasses and thus require severe security testing. There is greater sensitivity to security and load related problems in wireless infrastructure. Mobile threats are like a virtual battlefield with Spam, Phishing and other attacks. Security of a mobile app is required to check the critical data communication over the app.
Different mobile operating systems like Android, Windows etc. have different user interfaces, in turn guided by specific rules and guidelines. The usage and layout of elements is checked in the verification process when publishing the mobile applications in the markets. Non-compliance with rules and guidelines can delay the publishing process; in turn impacting increase in the cost of development and testing. Mobile app testing must meet the industry standards for an application to be popular and globally accepted especially in this era of technology.
Skilled QA Specialists
A completely tested application is liable to be rejected by end users merely due to UI look and feel. As a QA specialist you need to consider and make choices about the mix-n-match of different techniques to be used in testing. A testing strategy that combines different testing options that together provide you with the best overall testing which as a result balances the transaction between cost, quality and time-to-market. Testing Processes, Automation Tools, Mobility knowledge, Test acumen & Technology advances – the need of skilled QA specialists poses a resource challenge in the field of Mobile App Testing.
More and more enterprises are leveraging mobility to boost their top-lines, improve efficiency and venture into new business areas and penetrate the markets. Today, millions of mobile users depend on their devices and on their mobile apps. With end user getting more critical of User experience and performance, it is a must to address Mobile App Testing challenges.
What other mobile app testing challenges are you facing? And did you find any solution for that? Please let us know in comments.