Detailed guide on Mobile Testing with Recommended Tools
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - June 5, 2020
People spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones.
People check their phones on an average of 58 times a day.
As the numbers reveal, mobile phones have taken over the world. People don’t just spend increasing amounts of time on their phones, they expect everything to be accessible to them through their phones. This means anyone (individual or organization) who seeks to have an online presence must optimize their websites and apps for mobile devices. In other words, all websites and apps must undergo mobile testing.
However, the explosion in mobile device usage means that one website must be tailored to be displayed and operate perfectly across thousands of devices – 9000+distinct devices, to be exact. To developers and testers, this can be a major challenge.
In order to tackle this challenge, a thorough understanding of mobile testing is absolutely necessary. This article discusses the basics of mobile testing for both websites and apps. It also explores some tools that can help testers get started with a mobile testing strategy geared for speed, efficiency, and success.
Why do you need Mobile Testing?
Basically, mobile testing is required to ensure that a website or application runs perfectly, no matter the circumstances. When it comes to mobile devices, these circumstances can refer to:
- Wide range of different mobile devices with different screen sizes, resolutions and hardware configurations
- Different mobile operating systems such as iOS, Android and Windows
- Different versions of each operating system such as iOS 5.x, iOS 6.x, etc.
- Different mobile network operators, as well as network connectivity levels
- Events such as incoming calls, messages, low battery, etc.
- Frequent updates to the OS as well as the website or app itself. Both have to be navigated so that there is no disruption in functionality
Types of Mobile Testing
- Usability Testing: Used to ensure that the website or app is easy to user from end-users’ perspective on a mobile device
- Compatibility Testing: Used to ensure that a website or app runs perfectly on different devices, browsers, screen sizes, and OS versions
- Interface Testing: Used to ensure those interface elements (menu options, buttons, settings, navigational elements) work exactly as expected
- Services Testing: Used to ensure that the software is providing all necessary services both online and offline.
- Performance Testing: Used to ensure that the software performs well under different conditions – low connectivity, during incoming calls, low battery, etc.
- Security Testing: Used to ensure that the software protects user information in all circumstances
- Installation Tests: This is mostly applicable to mobile apps, not websites. It is used to ensure that the app correctly installs on a device.
The types of mobile testing outlined above usually apply to both websites and mobile apps. However, certain forms of testing are only relevant to apps or websites alone because of their nature and how they fit into the device and operating system.
Mobile Testing Tools
The mobile testing tools listed below can be used to test the behavior of websites as well as mobile apps.
- Emulators or Simulators: An emulator is a software that mimics the hardware and software of the target device on the tester’s computer. They do this by translating the ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) of the target device to the one used by the computer being used to conduct testing using binary translation. A simulator is a software that helps a computer run certain programs built for a different Operating System. They are mostly meant for iPhone and iPad devices, unlike Android devices that can be emulated easily.However, emulators and simulators are not adequate for testing mobile apps. Here’s a mantra for mobile app testing in all forms: there is no way to publish a successful app without testing it on real devices. Without testing in real user conditions, an app is likely to malfunction in key areas and incur the displeasure of users.
Just to emphasize the point, here is a list of things one can test on real devices but not on emulators and simulators:
- Low battery, battery drainage, abrupt power off
- App performance during incoming interruptions such as calls or SMS
- Conflicts with other preinstalled apps
- Multiple networks – Wifi, 3G, 4G, etc.
- Network density
- Localized features
Additionally, testing on real devices promises accurate results every time – not the case with virtual machines which can throw up false positives.
To learn more about how real device testing is better, have a look at this guide on Emulators vs Real Devices.
2. Real Devices: No matter the website or app, it needs to be tested on real devices. Since device fragmentation is a major concern for every developer and tester, one cannot leave software performance up to chance. Every website or app has to work seamlessly on multiple device-browser-OS combinations. With thousands of devices being used to access the internet globally, every website or app has to be optimized for different configurations, viewports, and screen resolutions.
When it comes to mobile testing, real devices are irreplaceable. In case testers cannot access an in-house real device lab, they can choose cloud-based testing services that offer real devices, browsers, and operating systems.
BrowserStack provides multiple options for online mobile testing, both for websites and apps.
Live: BrowserStack Live offers 2000+ browsers and devices for testing. That means, while testing websites on mobile devices, testers can choose from a wide range of latest and legacy devices to run their website. Each device is also installed with multiple browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, IE, etc.) as well as multiple versions of each browser.
Automate: BrowserStack Automate offers a cloud Selenium grid of 2000+ real browsers and devices to test on. Simply sign up, log in, choose the mobile device, and start running automated test cases on it. Use parallel testing to run tests on multiple devices simultaneously in order to get accurate results faster.
App Live: BrowserStack App Live is used for testing mobile apps. In this case, testers can upload apps to real Android and iOS devices of their choice in order to test their performance in real-world conditions. This includes testing native device features such as natural gestures, geolocation, connectivity, localization, etc.
App Automate: BrowserStack App Automate is built for automated testing of mobile apps. Using Appium, testers can speed up their test cycles. They can also use parallel testing to run multiple tests on different devices simultaneously. They can also integrate with BrowserStack using Appium, Espresso, XCUITest, and EarlGrey. Testers can also access a plethora of debugging tools such as text logs, video recordings, and screenshots.
Mobile testing can seem like a daunting task, at least initially. It can take a while to figure out what devices to test on, and how to find the right balance of manual and automated testing. However, once the plans are laid and the right tools are used, mobile testing will go a long way in ensuring a desirable user experience globally, and lending credibility to a website or app.