All About Android App Automation Testing Tools
By Harmandeep Gover, Community Contributor and Pradeep Krishnakumar, Manager - July 30, 2019
About 80% of the smartphones in the market run on Android while the remaining work on iOS. Ever since its launch in 2009, Android has increased its market share from 3.9% to 80%. It is a clear indicator of how Android has taken over the smartphone industry. But what makes Android a favorite among the user and developer community? To start with, Android is an open-source system making it easily accessible, customization and development friendly. Since Android has a large user base, it caters to multiple audiences owning smartphones of different budgets and functionalities. Lastly, with an open-source community and contribution forum, learning app development on the Android platform is easy. So, developers have adopted Android more easily. Simultaneously, developers and testers have adopted tools and techniques to test Android apps.
Overview of Android App Testing
Android apps have evolved, and so have the features and functionalities. Thus, the scope of testing has increased as well. Let’s have a look at the various factors to be considered when testing an app.
Functionality: Every app has some core functionalities that come from the users’ requirements. Functional testing is done to verify whether the app runs for every use case. Let us take an example of a ride-sharing application (like Uber, Lyft). A tester has to ensure the following:
- The maps are working in sync with the user location
- The available cab locations shown to the user are accurate
- The driver ratings are functional and verified
- The pricing system is working as per the algorithms defined
- The booking time is optimized
These are some of the functionalities which a tester looks at while testing an app.
Compatibility: Many new Android devices are launched every year. These include different shapes, sizes, configurations, and even components. Thus, it is essential to understand the requirements of your app and to make sure that it is universally accepted and is compatible with every Android device. Compatibility is tested based on the device and the version of the Operating system.
User Interface (UI): UI is another essential aspect of any app since it is the critical connection between the user and the functionality. UI includes the visual elements of the app and how well they represent each function. App testing for UI enables the tester to ensure the correct visual representation of buttons and text.
Security: Security has been a significant concern since technology has brought in a lot more users and that has made the safety of private user data more vulnerable. This is very critical for apps concerning finance and communication. Security testing is thus done to ensure the encryption and decryption of essential data. It also makes sure that the data stored is safe and secure from vulnerabilities.
Interface: App development is often done in phases, and once all the stages are completed, the app is tested for any bugs. The app is thoroughly tested for all components essential such as location services, maps, voice social app integration, location services, maps, voice recording, etc. This is known as interface testing.
Traditional methods of testing and the shift to automation
The traditional approach to app testing includes a manual check for various test cases. Manual testing should be typically done by developers at the time of development so that they can find bugs and fix them early. Despite being an essential step for Android testing, manual testing has challenges of its own. Inclusion of human factor decreases accuracy, takes time and leads to higher labor costs. Unlike manual testing, automation testing makes use of an automation tool to enter different test cases and to record results. Further comparison of the expected and obtained results are used to generate reports. Over multiple development cycles, the test case gets automated, leading to no human intervention. Android automation testing also enables scaling of the test coverage.
Top App Automation Testing tools
There are numerous Android automation testing tools available in the market, but today we will look at some of the most popular ones.
Based on the Selenium framework, Selendroid is used for Android app testing. Driving UI of native and hybrid apps, Selendroid can be used on android emulators as well as actual devices. Similar to Selenium, Selendroid offers playback and recording features. Selendroid can also be used in combination with other frameworks such as JUnit. It offers cross-platform support through export options for scripts in other languages such as Java, Python, and Ruby.
Appium is another widely used open-source app testing tool. What makes Appium stand out is the ability to test applications on actual mobile devices. Another outstanding feature is regression testing, especially for apps with frequent updates and versions.
An AI-based automation tool, Testim speeds up the process of creating, executing and maintaining test cases. Due to AI, it goes to the root cause element and ensures a permanent fix. Additionally, it allows user-selected GUI and JS-based custom codes.
A scriptless end-to-end automation solution, Mabl ensures an integrated delivery pipeline. Thus, users don’t have to worry about the testing alone and can focus on the app. The app runs on machine learning concepts and uses automatic repair every time the UI/ UX changes. Additionally, Mabl provides regression insights for every build of the android app.
Types of Android App Automation Testing Frameworks
While there are numerous frameworks with each having its own set of advantages, today let us have a look at some of the most commonly used frameworks in android app automation testing.
Appium test framework: Appium, a free utility works for native, hybrid and mobile android apps. Appium is an easy to use application which offers support for multi-language programmings such as Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby. It has a single API for Android and iOS devices. Thus, testers have to write a separate script for both Android and iOS platforms.
Robotium test framework: Used to write black-box test cases in Android, Robotium offers support for native and hybrid applications. The framework is capable of handling multiple Android activities in addition to dialogues and menus. Using the Robotium framework, the tester can work on functions, system test cases, and user acceptance test cases. Robotium offers easier access to the testers through its shorter codes.
Robo-electric framework: The Robo-electric test framework has a fast execution capability mainly because of two components – JVM and Shadow Objects. Applications are tested on the Junit4 framework based JVM. It also includes writing and running test cases. The framework replaces all classes with shadow objects. Whenever an implementation takes place, an internal call is sent to the shadow objects. If the object is executable, a value is returned else NULL is given out. It is one of the easiest ways for the tester to understand the design or architecture of the product. The framework can help document the flow of the app and lead to a better performing, well-versed application.
Best practices followed while Automation app testing
Some of the best practices that testers should keep in mind are:
- Understand and set an achievable scope of testing in order to set the right expectation across teams
- Select the right framework, based on the requirements of teams
- Test on real android devices, given multiple brands, come with new devices each year, with different configurations
- Choose the right automation tool. Numerous teams make the mistake of choosing a popular tool that might not fulfill the actual requirements
- Set scripting rules. Uniform scripting along with user comments and indentation of code plays a significant role
- Android often releases updates for its operating systems. Teams must upgrade test cases that can handle these changes
- Check the impact of automation testing by measuring metrics such as bugs caught, time taken to push releases, number of reversals, and overall product NPS. Avoid comparing automation testing with the manual testing process, since both of them play different roles in the overall development cycle
Given Android has 80% market share, testers need to have a robust process to test their Android apps. Automating their testing process helps teams scale up their device coverage. Multiple app automation testing tools and frameworks exist in the market. Testing teams should wisely choose the correct framework, tools and set the right expectations for their engineering teams. Teams should also prioritize testing on real devices instead of emulators and simulators.