How to test Mobile Applications?
By Sandra Felice, Community Contributor - September 17, 2022
Today Mobile phones have evolved from simple communication devices to gadgets that can basically do anything, be it shopping online, ordering food, availing of a taxi service, or even looking for simple directions. These can all be done using a mobile phone with the help of mobile applications or, in other words – Mobile “Apps”.
Apps constitute the core of many businesses around the world. Hence, it is crucial to have quality apps developed. In this article, we will be talking about testing such apps.
What is Mobile App Testing?
Mobile App testing is a process that every application developed for handheld devices has to go through to assure a certain level of quality. Testing is done before releasing an application into the marketplace, commonly known as the App Store.
App Store has Different names on different operating systems. For example, the App Store is known as Play Store for all Google or Android-based handheld devices. On iOS devices, it is known as the App Store.
Why is Mobile App Testing important?
Mobile Apps usually have more users than Desktop Apps. Hence, there is a need to test on a broader range of devices for generating quality Apps.
Mobile App development lifecycle generally tends to be much shorter than the others like Desktop Apps. Hence, these applications heavily depend on Mobile Application testing for their success.
Mobile Apps are tested on the basis of various parameters such as functionality, usability, consistency, performance, security, and UI. This helps increase the general efficiency of the Apps on all fronts while also increasing the reliability factor amongst users using them.
Mobile App Testing helps with:
- Increased user satisfaction
- Uplifts brand image
- Achieve a good ROI
- Achieving a fully functional app
Types of Mobile Apps
The type of Mobile App to be tested plays an important role in defining your testing process. There are around four types of Mobile apps.
- Native Mobile Apps
These mobile apps are native to a particular platform, whether Google’s Android, Apple iOS, or Windows Phone. This leads to better use of the operating system and device-specific functionalities because it was developed specifically for that platform.
For example, native Android Apps can be found on the Play Store, and iOS apps can be found on App Store, etc.
Examples of Native Apps: Calculator, Notepad, etc.
- Web Apps
These apps are pure web applications and are accessed through mobile native browsers like Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc. Web Apps are tested using the most popular test automation frameworks like the Selenium Test framework.
They do not require any storage space or installation processes. These web apps are built to be responsive. Hence they also adapt to the different screen sizes and devices, thereby helping to reduce business costs.
Examples of Web Apps: Any app that can accessed on browsers.
- Progressive Web Apps
PWAs are extensions of websites that can be saved on your computer or other devices and then can be used like a Web app. They use very little data and get updated just like a Web page. They run fast regardless of the device type or the operating systems.
Examples of PWAs: Twitter, Telegram, etc.
Also Read: How to test Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
- Hybrid Mobile Apps
These apps are an amalgamation of both Native and Web apps. They are written using HTML, JS, and CSS web technologies. They work across different operating systems.
Hybrid Mobile Apps are built on a single platform and distributed across various app stores like App Store or Play Store. This helps in saving the business time and resources.
Examples of Hybrid Apps: Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet on How to test Native App vs Hybrid App vs Web App vs Progressive Web App (PWA)
Stages of Mobile App Testing
End to end testing is vital for the seamless functioning of mobile apps. Effective end-to-end testing of Mobile Apps consists of the following steps:
Step 1: Process Outlining
Outlining all the tests to be executed for your Mobile App is the first step to be followed. Create a Test Plan with all the use cases you’d like to test, explaining the tests and the expected result for the sprint.
Step 2: Choosing test type for Manual or Automated Testing
Deciding whether a test will be manual or automated is the next step to be followed. Tests can be automated:
- If a use case needs to be run frequently.
- If a test has a predictable outcome.
- If tests need to be written for a variety of devices, operating systems, and screen dimensions.
- For Unit Testing
Hence at this stage, the QAs have to define the scope of Manual Testing vs Automation Testing to optimize for testing & costs.
Step 3: Preparing test cases for different user functionalities
Defining the cases is the first step to write test cases for mobile applications, once you decide which testing type to use. Two approaches can be followed here:
- Business scenario-based testing: The system is assessed from the Business perspective
- Requirements-based testing: Performance of specific App features is assessed
Defining the test cases depends on the type of testing you want to do as well. Application tests are divided into two groups:
- Functional Testing – Consists of Unit Testing, Integration Testing, System Testing, Interface Testing, Regression Testing, and Acceptance/Beta Testing.
- Non-functional Testing – Consists of Security Testing, Volume Testing, Stress Testing, Performance Testing, Load Testing, Reliability Testing, Usability Testing, Compliance Testing, and Localization Testing.
Step 4: Manual Testing
In the Agile Testing framework, it is advised to use a combination of both Manual and Automated Testing for effectively testing Mobile Apps. Manual Testing doesn’t require initial investments. Hence, it is recommended to kick-start a testing sprint with Exploratory Testing. Keep consistent track of all the logs of the testing sessions in a word or excel file.
There are two ways QA testers test Mobile Apps manually:
- Testing on Emulators or Simulators:
Emulators and Simulators are the oldest and most widely used tools for Mobile App testing. They are tools that let you select the mobile device model, mimic the device, and run it on your computer system. This gives you an idea of how the mobile app will behave when used on Real devices after launch.
Example: Android Studio has a built-in Emulator
Did you know Emulators and Simulators are different? Find out the Difference between Emulator and Simulator.
Consider that an app was created in Android Studio (Read about creating an App Bundle in Android Studio here) to run on an Android Device Emulator. Once the App is created, choose the emulator you want and run the code. The following will be the output.
- Testing on a platform that offers Real Devices:
Testing on a platform that provides an extensive range of Android and iOS mobile devices to test your Mobile Apps on Real Device Cloud helps in simulating app behavior in real user conditions. QA testers can leverage platforms like BrowserStack that provide a wide range of devices for testing mobile apps manually.
Just signup for free and start testing mobile apps immediately. The following steps need to be followed:
- Upload the app file you created on the platform
- Select the OS and Mobile device to test on
Consider that an app was created (you can use the same App that you created in the previous section) with a .aab or .apk extension to run on the BrowserStack platform. After the App is uploaded, choose the Galaxy S22 Ultra device. The following will be the output.
Step 5: Automated Testing
Managing the ever-increasing demand for software testing cannot be just managed by Manual Testing since it is time-consuming. Hence, companies rely on mobile test automation frameworks as well to automate tests on a wide range of real devices. Some of the popular mobile testing frameworks are:
Appium is one of the most widely used open-source mobile test automation frameworks. It supports automated testing of Native and Hybrid mobile apps. Appium drives Android, iOS, and Windows apps using the Selenium WebDriver Interface.
It allows testers to test scripts in multiple programming languages – Python, Java, C#, Ruby, JS, and PHP. It is favored for being a flexible, cross-platform framework that can be used by testers to create test scripts for multiple platforms using the same API.
Supported platforms: iOS, Android
Refer to the following tutorials to run Appium tests on Android and iOS devices using BrowserStack:
Calabash is an open-source mobile testing framework tool that works with multiple languages, such as Java, Ruby, .NET, etc., to test native and hybrid apps.
Using Calabash, testers can write and execute automated acceptance tests for Mobile apps. It supports actions such as swipe, rotate, tap, etc. It has support for the Cucumber framework. Hence, easier to understand by non-technical staff.
Supported platforms: iOS and Android
Selendroid is known as Selenium for Android. It supports both Android native and hybrid apps as well as mobile web apps. Selendroid allows you to inspect the current state of your app’s UI. It also supports parallel execution on multiple devices.
Supported platforms: Mac, Linux, Windows
XCUITest Framework is Appium’s primary support for automating native iOS apps using the XCUITest driver. XCUITest is a framework that was meant to create and run UI tests for iOS apps using Swift/ Objective C. It is very well known for its fast execution, low flakiness, and easy test management.
Supported platforms: iOS
Step 6: Usability & Beta Testing
Usability testing primarily indicates if a feature works and if it is convenient to be used by the users using the application. The basic criteria to be fulfilled are Satisfaction, Efficiency, and Effectiveness.
Beta Testing enables the developers to understand which features users will need. This, in particular, helps to shape the direction the app should take in the future.
Step 7: Performance Testing
Performance testing determines your application’s reaction and constancy under a specific workload. It has several attributes under it:
- Load Testing: Checks how much load the application can take under normal/extreme conditions.
- Stress Testing: Checks whether the application works as expected under undue stress.
- Stability Testing: Checks whether the application can work well for a longer time period within normal loads.
- Volume Testing: Checks how the application performs when subjected to a huge data volume.
- Concurrency Testing: Checks how many users can simultaneously work with the application.
Step 8: Security Testing
Security testing aims to check the security of your application. It also analyzes the risk of application hackers, viruses, app protection, and unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Step 9: End-to-End Testing before the Final Version release
After all the testing on the Mobile App is done, developers run an end-to-end testing sprint to ensure that the application works as expected on the server level as well as back-end and is ready to be uploaded. If any issues are found in the app, they are fixed, and the end-to-end sprint is repeated. If no major bugs are found, developers release the application to App Stores.
Wrapping it up
The exponential growth of mobile devices being used and the development of mobile applications makes testing a very crucial requirement for the successful and rapid delivery of high-quality mobile apps. Mobile App testing is the only way to ensure that your mobile apps meet all the requirements and are error-free.
QA testers need to ensure that their applications are tested against all available devices, OS, networks, Different Screen Sizes, Memory sizes, and Display types. Since these testers are aware of the challenges and types of Mobile testing, it is advisable to follow some best practices to make sure that the testing process is not missing any important factors.
To test a mobile application under real user conditions makes the test results more accurate, as it takes into account various factors. Hence, it is highly recommended to test on real device cloud like BrowserStack that allows access to thousands of mobile devices across Android and iOS platforms. You can run both Manual Tests (using BrowserStack AppLive) and Automated Tests (using BrowserStack AppAutomate)