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Home Guide Top 5 iOS Automated Testing Frameworks

Top 5 iOS Automated Testing Frameworks

By Jash Unadkat, Community Contributor -

This article will discuss commonly used iOS testing frameworks in the developer community. It will also help users make more informed decisions regarding the framework most suitable for their requirements.

Constant advancements in the field of application development have introduced to us dozens of new tools and frameworks, each designed to make development easier and faster. The same goes for iOS testing frameworks. Testing frameworks have become an unavoidable part of the development lifecycle as they help to optimize the entire testing process and ensure quality standards are met.

As per a report from buildfire, there are 2.2 million apps available in the Apple App Store. With constant competition in the mobile market, iOS developers must leverage the best iOS testing frameworks for rolling out flawless apps.

Top 5 iOS Automated Testing Frameworks

1. Appium

Appium is a popular open-source test framework that enables QA engineers to automate cross-platform (Android, iOS) mobile applications. Dan Cuellar originally developed the Appium framework in C# in 2011. It was made open-source in 2012, and the first version of Appium (Appium 1.0) was released in May 2014. Using Appium, QAs can test native, hybrid, and mobile web apps on real devices as well as iOS emulators and simulators.

QAs can also choose to automate their application tests in any programming language of their choice. Appium uses Selenium WebDriver APIs and language-specific client libraries, making it possible to code in various languages like Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, and more. It also provides full access to backend APIs and databases from the test code, increasing flexibility.

Key Benefits of Appium:

  • Supports automating both platforms – Android and iOS
  • Active community support, including Google groups
  • Is Open Source, thus free and very simple to use

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2. EarlGrey

Developed by Google, EarlGrey is an open-source native test framework used for UI test automation in iOS. Google also uses this framework internally for functional testing of native iOS apps like Youtube, Google Calendar, Google Photos, Google translate, and others. It gives QAs access to enhanced synchronization features for stable UI testing.

The built-in synchronization is a key feature that enables test scripts to wait for specific UI events to occur before directly starting an interaction with the application UI. EarlGrey automatically synchronizes with the UI and network requests; however, it allows a user to implement the customized timings manually.

Note: QA engineers can directly run test scripts from Xcode or the command line as EarlGrey operates in conjunction with XCtest frameworks and is also integrated with Xcode’s test navigator.

Key Benefits of EarlGrey:

  • Completely open-source framework
  • High-level synchronization
  • Test actions are performed only on UI elements

Deprecation: EarlGrey 1.0 is deprecated in favor of EarlGrey 2.0, which integrates it with XCUITest. EarlGrey 1.0 is not being maintained internally with iOS 13.

3. XCTest and XCUITest

Both XCTest and XCUITest are integral automation frameworks by Apple that are shipped with Xcode for testing iOS applications. XCUITest is a User Interface (UI) testing framework by Apple that is built on top of XCTest (a unit testing framework). XCUITest has additional classes for better UI testing (such as UIAccessibility). Users develop test cases in Swift or Objective C. All these test scripts are packaged in a test IPA (iOS packaged application) runner. This IPA runner then executes the test scripts on the AUT (Application Under Test) IPA.

Key Benefits of XCUITest:

  • Very convenient for developers as XCUITest runs from the XCode IDE itself
  • Better framework architecture results in faster execution of tests on iOS devices
  • Increased reliability as flakiness is eliminated
  • Operates directly at the object level; hence maintenance becomes easier if any app changes are to be made

4. OCMock

OCMock is a powerful mock object testing library used to create stubs in an iOS app. Mock objects play a vital role in software testing as they enable a QA engineer to simulate the behavior of complex, real objects.

There is no built-in support for Mock objects in Xcode. Hence, OCMock is used as a unique library. This library supports Objective-C. OCMock enables a user to add mock objects in existing test cases easily.

Key Benefits of OCMock:

  • Open Source and compatible with Objective-C
  • Mock objects can be added easily in existing unit tests

5. Detox

Similar to Appium, Detox is an end-to-end automation framework for testing cross-platform mobile applications. Its only drawback is that it doesn’t support testing on real devices for iOS platforms, but does so in the case of Android.

Key Benefits of Detox:

  • Supports cross-platform testing (Android, iOS)
  • One can use Mocha, AVA, or any other JavaScript test runner of their choice
  • Compatible with the CI platform Travis

Comparison between iOS Testing Frameworks: Differences

Listed below are the differences between the top 5 iOS Automated Testing Frameworks:

ParametersAppiumEarlGreyXCTest and XCUITestOCMockDetox
Supported LanguagesJava, Objective-C, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Clojure, C#, and JavaScript with Node. jsObjective-CObjective-CObjective-CJavaScript and Objective C
Cross Platform SupportYesNoNoNoYes
Community SupportHighHighHighHighHigh
Ease of SetupMediumMediumEasyEasyMedium

Before selecting a framework, study and test its pros and cons. The ideal framework aligns with the user’s skill set, comfort level, and the results a project intends to accomplish. Additionally, remember that a testing framework is only as good as the devices used to test on. As far as possible, testing on real devices will reveal bugs that can emerge when end-users navigate an app. Nothing exceeds the advantage of testing on a real device cloud when it comes to testing in real user conditions.

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BrowserStack enables teams to test mobile apps on real devices. Teams can also integrate seamlessly with popular iOS testing frameworks such as Appium, EarlGrey, and XCUITest on BrowserStack. This helps ensure a bug-free app experience for its users.

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