Mobile application testing is an elaborate exercise that involves selection of right automated tools, frameworks, devices and simulators, as it is essential to meet the user expectations. Today, a mobile phone is not merely a tool for communication anymore, for it has been transformed into a multi functional device. A device that straddles various technologies, platforms, networks, browsers, and operating systems. Even though mobile phone applications have made the world into a smaller place with better networking and quicker provisioning of information/products/services, they have put the task of developers (and testers) under strain.
With digital transformation making rapid ingress into the lives of people, mobile phone applications have become its many levers. The thrust towards accelerating the time to market with better quality apps has meant conducting rigorous mobile application testing. This is where, as mentioned before, the task of developers and testers has come under strain. The reasons can be many.
- Mobile applications need to be tested on a variety of devices, networks, browsers, platforms and operating systems.
- The mobile application testing process should be comprehensive and foolproof.
- Mobile apps delivered to the customers should be above board and must meet various security regulations.
- Mobile app development life-cycle should be shortened to deliver more
- The criticality of functional (unit, smoke, sanity, integration, regression, etc.) and non- functional testing (performance, security, penetration, usability, etc.) is equal where one cannot override the other.
- The advent of DevOps culture means the quality of an app should be maintained throughout its life-cycle.
To address the above mentioned challenges the need for mobile test automation has become imperative. And to that effect, the selection of mobile test automation tools is fraught with challenges. The challenges relate to the tool’s ability to perform across technology stacks, networks and platforms. To get an idea of the challenges involved, consider a mobile app to be tested across operating systems viz., Android, iOS and Windows, 15 odd devices, and similar combinations.
The number of tests needed to validate the mobile app against such a backdrop can be overwhelming. Thus, selecting an appropriate tool, be it open source or licensed, should involve a sound mobile testing strategy. The strategy includes knowing the test objectives and the costs involved. The cost is related to the price of automation tools, frameworks, resources and training the resources. Moreover, the relevant automation strategy for mobile testing should aim at achieving the desired test outcomes.
Building a relevant automation strategy for mobile testing
Identification of devices/frameworks/simulators
Since the automation framework runs on devices and simulators, its selection should uphold the quality of testing and optimize cost at the same time. A balance should be established between the use of simulators and devices. The simulators help in testing a variety of variables and parameters against desired outcomes and real devices provide suitable testing platforms to check usability and touch response. A mobile testing methodology involves conducting simulator testing followed by real device testing.
Know the application to be tested
A thorough analysis of the application to be tested should apprise testers of the type of tests to be conducted and the ones to be automated. This way, the specific requirements for automated tests as well as the kind of automated tool to be used can be determined. These can help in cost optimization, realization of ROI and for enhancing the test coverage area.
Choosing the right automation tool
The choice is dependent on a number of factors as listed below. However, care should be taken that once an automated tool is finalized all stakeholders should come on board.
- Cost of the tool. If open source tools do not lend themselves to all areas of testing, the use of licensed tools can be considered.
- Type of mobile operating system viz., Android, iOS and Windows.
- Possibility of reusing the script.
- Compatibility with various devices, browsers, platforms, languages, IDEs, and frameworks.
- Convenience of writing an automated script.
Choosing the right automation framework: The selection of an automated tool is followed by the kind of automation framework to be needed viz., keyword driven, data driven or hybrid. This is guided by the type of business scenarios and the size of the application to be tested.
While choosing the type of tests (functional and non-functional,) plan KPIs (coverage area, type of defects, etc.) and test scenarios that the application can face, such as fluctuations in user traffic, network conditions, device configurations, and much more.
As Gartner has stated, ‘The widespread popularity of mobile applications is creating opportunities for mobile application testing service providers in all segments. Technology business unit leaders must identify where rapid advancements in the market are occurring to compete in this crowded market.’
Selecting the right testing infrastructure (frameworks, tools, platforms and strategies) for mobile app testing leads to better test outcomes. This goes a long way in achieving market competitiveness for the product and ROI for the business.