5 Myths About Emulators You Should Not Believe In
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - November 19, 2019
The tremendous growth in usage of mobile applications has put forth a challenge for all the application developers to roll out robust applications that can deliver more than expected from the end-users’ perspective. Developers or QAs have therefore started migrating from emulators to real devices for mobile app testing. Yet certain myths like ‘Emulators are the best for testing apps,’ or ‘Emulators are a reliable method of UI testing’ persist in the testing community.
However, the truth is that testing applications on mobile emulators can not be considered a reliable approach for developing market-ready applications. Apps tested on emulators are not capable of delivering optimal performance on actual devices used by people in the real world.
As per an analysis by appsflyer, almost 3 out of 10 apps installed end up being uninstalled within the first few weeks. The uninstallation rate is high on the first day itself. A common reason is that most apps fail to make a good impression at the initial stage. A key reason for this is the inadequate testing of applications on real devices.
Let’s start debunking some myths associated with testing applications on emulators.
Myth #1: Emulators can help create a great user interface
When it comes to testing the user interface for an end-user in the real world, testing on emulators is simply not the right choice.
Emulators do not support all types of user interactions. Using a mouse to interact with an application on a mobile emulator on a desktop is different than a user actually using a finger on a mobile screen to run an application. Certain actions like pinch to zoom in or zoom out, scrolling and other gestures are considerably different when experienced on real devices. Also, viewing a mobile screen in the outdoor lighting conditions is completely different from viewing an emulated display on a desktop.
Myth #2: Performance testing on emulators is accurate
It becomes extremely important to test applications for performance. However, examining the performance of an application in an emulated environment is meaningless. Testing events such as battery heating, drainage issues or conflicts with internal applications on a device is not possible on emulators.
Also, there is no accurate way one can test performance for sensors like accelerometer and GPS on emulators. In some cases, the emulators themselves perform slowly, which is frustrating for developers. In such cases, it’s highly recommended that one uses a real device cloud for testing.
Myth #3: Emulators cover a wide range of devices
Naturally, the hardware makes a major difference when it comes to testing on real devices or on mobile emulators. Each mobile device and OS comes bundled with a unique set of configurations. Testing the performance of an application across combinations of multiple operating systems and hardware configurations is a complex and challenging task.
In such cases, using an emulator is not feasible for developers as it is not possible to perform extensive tests across devices. Also, emulators are limited to specific platforms in some cases. In such cases, teams would get better results from testing on real devices. This will help the developers roll out reliable mobile applications faster, giving end-users the best possible digital experience.
Myth #4: Platforms and customizations can be compromised
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) add their customized user interface layers, skins, and other programs on the top of the underlying operating system. These customizations may introduce compatibility issues on different devices for the applications. To overcome such issues it becomes vital to test applications on real devices. By analyzing an app’s behavior in real user conditions, one ensures that an app runs flawlessly on all targeted devices in the real world.
Myth #5: Infrastructure and Network are not essential for app testing
Mobile devices experience fluctuating networks. The network delay can not be tested on a mobile browser emulator. Teams can use a real device cloud to leverage features like network throttling and IP geolocations to ensure that the app works as expected, regardless of network conditions or device location.
For organizations to ensure that their mobile applications meet all end-user requirements, it is vital to understand why emulators are not adequate for app testing. By choosing to test on real devices instead of an online android emulator or ios simulator, developers can put their best foot forward. They can ensure greater levels of success and keep users satisfied in a world where people are quick to delete and uninstall any app they do not like.