Mobile Application testing can be quite a challenge for a Quality Assurance team. Mobile Apps often are required to function on a variety of devices featuring different hardware capabilities, configurations, and specifications. QA analysts and IT firms are often confronted with the same question when testing a Mobile App – whether to go with manual testing options or to try out new automated techniques. The type of testing (manual or automated) depends on various factors, including project requirements, budget, timeline, expertise, and suitability. It only makes sense to use automated testing tools when the costs of acquiring the tool and building and maintaining the tests is less than the efficiency gained from the effort.
Let’s say your organization has an iOS app and Apple releases a new version of iOS. The more automated test cases you already have on hand, the faster you’ll be able to pinpoint what updates need to be made. With that in mind, does it make sense to automate all testing? Well, possibly. There are times when it may be best to conduct testing manually and other times when automated testing is the better choice. Let’s have a look at some key points regarding Manual & Automated Mobile Application Testing.
Mobile Application Testing – Manual
The most common use of manual mobile application testing is during the development phases of a project, while developers are coding new functionality. In the Agile world, the completion of incremental function needs quick and early validation that the code behaves the way the developer and designer intends. A tester can use a real mobile device to make a quick check of the code. There may be no return for automating test cases for code that won’t ship until it has been modified or completed.
Manual mobile application testing may also be handy for validating the externals and the appearance of the app. This dimension is truly aesthetic, and takes a designer’s eye. Automation hasn’t yet progressed into the judgment realms of “cool” and “beautiful.” For the overall effect, the mind’s eye can hardly be bettered. Manual testing may be useful to verify spelling, placement of objects, proportions, consistency of UI standards, and general design standards.
New functionality / One Function
When you’re testing new functionality or a single function, manual mobile application testing is often the way to go. With new functionality, testers won’t know what type of automated test script to write prior to performing a manual test. If there isn’t a case for re-use, there is really no need to tie up automation experts with script creation for a single test case.
It is often impractical to automate 100% of test cases due to various constraints such as functionality that implicitly will have to be tested manually (E.g. Captcha), tool restrictions, complex technology, support to technology by tool, etc.
Manual mobile application testing is a sapient activity which requires human judgement. As a QA team tests an application, they use implicit knowledge to judge whether or not something is working as expected. This enables them to find extra bugs that automated tests would never find. Intuition can also lead team members to explore areas that may not have been scheduled for testing. Manual testing is also helpful for finding visual layout issues and trivial bugs which wouldn’t be found by an automated test.
Specific Mobile Features
Some mobile apps or hardware features can require manual testing. For example you may want to integrate with a camera function such as barcode scanning. Since there really isn’t a way to simulate this function, manual testing is the best way to go.
This type of testing requires the tester’s knowledge, experience, analytical/logical skills, creativity, and intuition. It is a totally unplanned method of testing where the understanding and insight of the tester is the only important factor.
Mobile Application Testing – Automation
The very nature of mobility, with rapid changes and multiple form factors, paired with the pressure to quickly deploy numerous mobile apps, makes automation a popular test strategy for mobile applications.
As OEMs launch new devices, software updates and customization for their devices, application and game developers get serious headaches trying to keep their latest products up to snuff and fully compatible with all possible device variants. The question isn’t so much “does it work as we expect?” but “does it still work as we expect?” The existence of a suite of regression test cases can save critical time and can be the difference between releasing an app in a timely fashion.
This is one of the biggest benefits for me, especially when it comes to regression testing. Due to time constraints we may not run all tests associated to the change which may result in undiscovered defects. These issues can be overcome by setting up automated tests to run over night or after each deployment – this creates time for the tester to perform exploratory testing, concentrate on areas which cannot be automated and concentrate on other tasks. The tests run by tools are quite faster than those conducted manually by humans which again adds to the time-saving factor.
Load & Performance Testing
Automated mobile application testing is also the best way to complete the testing efficiently when it comes to load & performance testing which requires the simulation of thousands of concurrent users.
Technical Learning & Collaboration
Automated mobile application testing also keeps developer minds more intrigued. It’s tedious work typing in the same information into the same forms over and over again in manual testing. The process of setting up test cases in automated testing takes a technical mind, and keeps you on your feet. When using automated tests, any member of the team can automatically see the results published to the testing system. This provides for better team collaboration, and a better overall product.
Complex tests have multiple components that need to be tested at once. After testers familiarize themselves with the app’s functionality, an automated test script can help them run through a variety of tests quickly to speed the testing process.
Test automation is available 24/7 – Automation will reduce the time it takes to test new features and even the app itself by running 24/7. The crucial advantage with test automation is that you get to do the testing in parallel. You can run the tests in the night and do the next phase of regression in the morning.
Re-usability & Repeat-ability
The automated tests can be reused on different versions of the software, even if the interface changes. The same tests can be re-run in exactly the same manner eliminating the risk of human errors.
Manual testing is not accurate at all times due to human error, hence it is less reliable. Automated testing is more reliable, as it is performed by tools and/or scripts.
In a nutshell, automation helps to save time by reducing the time taken to run tests; Increases the quality of the software and testing process through reliability, repeat-ability and comprehensiveness of the test suite; Utilizing manpower more effectively by applying skills and time where they are needed most and increasing test coverage.
Integrated App Development & Testing
Mobile Application testing have to be repeated often during all development cycles to ensure the best possible quality of an application. Every time source code is modified, you need to test it on all variants and versions of operating systems, browsers and hardware. For each release, your software should be tested on all supported variants of operating systems and all configurations of hardware. Manually repeating these tests would be costly and time-consuming.
Test automation has become an integral part of mobile app development process today. Automated testing can increase the depth and scope of tests and significantly improve software quality. Lengthy and thorough tests — often not doable with manual testing — can be run automatically. Automated tests can easily execute thousands of complex test cases during every test run.
Some believe that automated testing may replace manual testing almost entirely. However, automated testing is still not able to cover all the types of testing that manual testing does. With these guidelines in mind, it’s easier to find the right test strategy for mobile application testing. However, just because automated mobile application testing is a possibility, it doesn’t mean that it’s always the best fit for all enterprise testing needs. Perhaps the best option is a hybrid approach.
Do you have any other suggestions on whether to choose automated tools or just go manually? What’s worked for you in the past? Please let me know in the comments section!