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Top 12 Skills Every Mobile App Tester Needs

By Vivek Mannotra, Community Contributor -

Table of Contents

The proliferation of mobile devices, and the ubiquity of mobile applications has led to a dramatic shift in how tech companies interact with their users. Where once desktop platforms and applications were the primary way, mobile devices and apps have now overtaken them as the leading interface. 

Time spent online

Source

This shift has been driven by the convenience and portability of mobile devices and the increasing functionality of mobile apps. As a result, product designers are now focusing on developing mobile-friendly products and services that can be accessed and used on the go.

Did you know that 70% users are  likely to uninstall or abandon an app if they encounter crashes or slow load times?

With the growing market, competition among various players intensifies. Delivering pleasant, functional, and reliable multi-experience apps becomes a necessity. Hence, Quality Assurance (QA) or testing ends up being an important part of the development process as it helps to optimize both the application and its usability in the hand of the user. 

This guide will help you upskill your app tester skills and help you stand out as a key player in the QA team.

What is a Mobile Application?

A mobile application is a software bundle with a well-defined set of functionality that runs on a mobile device. It could be a web app or an application developed to run on the native operating system. In the current scenario, Android and iOS have the largest share in the market for mobile and handheld device operating systems.

There are some essential differences between web and native applications. Once you’ve understood the fundamentals behind mobile application testing, the next step is to set up an infrastructure and workflow for all testing-related activities.

QAOps is sometimes used to describe this part of the Software development life cycle (SDLC). 

The best mobile app testing tools depend on the platform, programming language, and overall approach chosen by the developers. There are some differences and some overlap between various application platforms: 

 

Criteria↓/Platform→World wide webAndroidiOS
Ownership/controlDe-centralisedGoogle LLCApple Inc
Distribution modeDomain and Web hostingPlay store, APKsApp Store
Core technologiesHTML, CSS,  JS with a long list of supporting frameworks and technologiesJava, Kotlin,  Android SDKSwift, Xcode
Supported form factorsAnything that supports an internet connection with a web browserPhones, tablets, wearables, TVs, music systems made by various OEMsiPhone, iPad, Apple TV, watch and other devices in the Apple ecosystem
Popularity90% of the internet users in the world actively use web applications95% of the worlds smartphones and tablets run androidLess than 4% of the handheld devices use iOS
Content typesPrimarily text and image-based, in the last decade 2D/3D, video, audio and other accessibility features have also been includedCan handle a wide range of content types including CPU/GPU heavy tasks such as gaming, AR/VR etc.Can handle a wide range of content types, including CPU/GPU heavy tasks such as gaming, AR/VR etc.
Unique strengthCan run on the widest range of devices Including PCs, virtual machines and novel operating systems.Single-handedly dominates the handheld marketMost sought-after and premium, user experience and devices
Unique weaknessLow barrier to entry means scam and fishy content is commonplaceThe open source nature combined with fragmented devices and versions out there, means higher security risksExpensive devices with restrictive ecosystem, lack of customizations and apps

Before Android and iOS were famous there were platforms like Blackberry, Symbian OS, Windows mobile, etc. So, your app tester skills keep changing and evolving with the mobile market itself.

 

mobile operating systems market share worldwide from january 2012 to june 2021

Mobile Market OS over the years

Keeping this in mind, let us now look at the current landscape of mobile application testing and highlight some of the most important application development tester skills.

Mobile App Tester Skills 

A sound approach to optimizing the mobile app testing process involves design thinking principles being brought into and applied to the testing cycle. 

As per your mobile app testing checklist, application development tester skills should cover general, team-related, technical, and platform-specific concerns. Let’s dive into it. 

General Interpersonal Skills

  • Deep Understanding of Business Use Cases: Before starting the testing process, a mobile app tester needs to have the right context and direction which can only be achieved by understanding the use cases and the user expectations. Everything else is downstream of this.

What defines a defect is when the application does not function according to the business or the user’s needs. Hence an understanding of the two is critical.

  • Analytical & Organizational skills: Mobile app testing can be a complex process involving many different tasks and team members. As such, testers need to be organized and keep track of all the different mobile testing challenges. QA engineers need to be able to assess a problem and identify potential solutions.

They also need to evaluate the impact of a change and determine the best course of action.

  • Attention to Detail: Mobile apps usually contain many pages, functionality, and even other applications in the ecosystem, so they must be thoroughly tested before release. This means paying attention to even the smallest details. 
  • Effective Communication: The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most essential skills a mobile app tester can have. After all, part of the QA process is communicating with developers to report bugs and provide feedback. If a tester can’t communicate effectively, the whole process breaks down.
  • Solopreneur & Team Player: QA engineers need to be able to work independently to identify and solve problems. They also need to work effectively as part of a team to ensure that changes are properly tested and implemented.

Technical Mobile App Tester Skills

  • Understanding SDLC: Testers work closely with development teams in implementing and executing test plans. Having a preliminary understanding of the software development life-cycle and for developers to have a basic know-how of the inner workings of the QA team, will help them develop a fruitful work relationship over a long duration.
  • Application Platform Depth: The meaning of a mobile app could mean different things in different situations. Generally speaking, it is either a native Android/iOS app, or it is a progressive web application, or a mix of two. Testing PWAs differ from native applications in that native applications use different APIs and programming languages to interact with the host device. 

A native Android application has slightly different capabilities than a PWA running on android. Similarly, PWA running on Android could have slightly different behavior than the PWA running on iOS. 

  • Formulating Test Plans and Strategy: The first step of the QA journey is to develop a detailed document listing all the use cases and mobile app testing scenarios that need to be evaluated. This can only be done correctly if the tester deeply understands what the user is trying to achieve in the application. The repository of test optimization techniques is quite vast, and it takes an experienced tester to judge what technique should be applied where.
  • Choosing the Right Testing Tools: Just like the market for mobile devices, the market for testing tools is also evolving rapidly. Technologies like AI/ML bring in major disruptions across the board. 
    With the advent of cloud-based platforms, what used to be an isolated job has now become a collaborative effort. So keeping up-to-date with the latest and greatest in the world of cross-browser testing is a must for all testers aspiring to grow in the future.

Top 12 Skills Every Mobile App Tester Needs

  • Setting Up Right Test Environments: For mobile devices, the range of actual devices is extensive and each device has different hardware in terms of processor, memory, network antennas, screen size, input type, etc. 

Making sure that testing is executed on real device cloud after you build an effective device matrix is critical. 

BrowserStack Device Matrix

  • Writing Automation Scripts: This might be the most crucial skill for aspiring QA engineers in the current market. Automation has become popular amongst remote QA teams and tech start-ups in the last few years.

If you know how to write automation scripts, you are in a position to take full advantage of the BrowserStack Integrations. By developing a standardized way of writing scripts, you can integrate BrowserStack Automate and  App Automate features into your QA workflow and manage results, reports on the cloud.

Mobile App Testing using BrowserStack Automate

  • Testing under Real User Conditions: Effect of screen gestures, network traffic conditions, geo-location, device orientation, and device language are among some of the real user conditions which are different for each. 

These things can affect how an application is rendered on any mobile device, so having the ability to control all these features is a must for mobile app testers.

BrowserStack Live iPad

With BrowserStack Live, you can

  • Adjust real-world variables like network conditions & geo-location
  • Test accessibility features like navigability and screen readers
  • Instantly check the responsiveness of your web application across a range of devices
  • Record and share screenshots from a range of Mobile and desktop devices

Sign Up & Start Testing

  • Logging and Recording Behavior: With the ability to test the mobile device features in-depth, the next most important thing is defect management. The ability to record the activity in a number of ways including system logs, screenshots, screen recordings, and defect logging is one of the most crucial app tester skills.

BrowserStack Screenshot

Screenshot tool lets you quickly analyze your web app on a range of devices for free

  • Data Visualization:  Once there is sufficient throughput of test activity in routine, it is the right time to implement a data visualization and optimization strategy which involves representing the test data in a visual form and sharing with stakeholders so that the team members can derive conclusions.

Test Project

  • Organization Level Management: Testing activities can get complicated when the scope of applications and test functions increases. In a large organization or in the case where the application stack is broad and spans across devices, managing testing infrastructure, resources, outcomes, and goals can get tricky. 

Thankfully, with features like Single Sign-on, Test Analytics, Parallelization etc,  BrowserStack Enterprise provides an unparalleled ability to manage everything from testing in localhost to testing in production, from one single point of entry for all your team members.

In Conclusion, 

Despite not being a direct contributor to the application code or design, an effective tester can bring out critical flaws in the application’s design or functioning, saving their employers money and users’ trust. 

Any mobile app tester’s skills should include a mix of technical and non-technical skills. A skilled mobile app tester can transition into a QA Manager by ensuring the quality of software/product releases.

In the current competitive market, attaining or upgrading mobile app testing skills can help a company to attain success swiftly and avoid pitfalls.

Top 12 Skills Every Mobile App Tester Needs

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