Applications are being used for a variety of purposes from business operations to personal activities - but no matter how they're being leveraged, they must be thoroughly tested to ensure the best quality. After all, no one wants to keep using a program that has a ton of bugs, is hard to navigate or just doesn't have the functionality he or she needs. With agile testing methodologies and automation, the capability and quality of the software drastically increase as QA teams are able to quickly and more efficiently vet deliverables and overall projects.
Although most testers are used to looking at software geared toward laptops and computers, completing evaluations for mobile apps is a completely different animal altogether. Not only have smartphones and tablets been around for a relatively short time, but their entrance into the workplace has considerably changed how people want to operate, and has thus affected the way that development teams need to think about their various projects.
When it comes to mobile testing, automation can be significantly beneficial, but teams should follow these best practices to ensure their success:
Test on Real Devices
New technology is being consistently deployed on the consumer level - just think of how often a new iPhone or Android phone is released. Then, not only does QA have the new hardware to consider, but teams must also contend with all previous iterations that are still being leveraged across the board. Each device also has its own characteristics from different operating systems to varying feature capabilities.
If you're trying to test in a simulated environment, your team probably isn't going to get the same experience as you would on the actual device, potentially leading to missing major issues. LogiGear Magazine contributor Abhijit Phatak suggested leveraging real devices instead of emulators for mobile testing purposes. This will provide real-time evaluation concerning environmental and device-specific factors. Using this information, teams will be able to directly adapt their app to user needs and ensure that it is appropriately supported on the hardware. It may also be prudent to automate network switching to identify performance bottlenecks and behavior changes.
"You also need to keep in mind the application behavior may be affected by the network type, latency and carrier infrastructure in the target geographies," Phatak wrote. "An automation testing strategy should emphasize periodically changing the available networks so that the entire spectrum of network technologies can be tested."
Pair With Other Tools
In some cases, automation by itself may not be enough to sustain agile operations and ensure faster, better quality releases. However, incorporating other assets could drive mobile testing automation. For example, the cloud would be a major catalyst for QA teams when it comes to thoroughly evaluating projects for mobile environments. Axelerant contributor Jaspreet Singh noted that the cloud augments testing by offering pre-configured architectures, the capability to support complex projects and scalability to match any app's scope. The real-time results of cloud-based testing paired with automation can also significantly identify and analyze defects as tests are being conducted.
"Cloud computing provides a Web-based mobile testing environment where applications can be deployed, tested and managed," Singh wrote. "Besides providing on-demand access to the diversity of mobile devices, cloud testing environment helps curtail the project costs while increasing ROI."
With mobile and all of the considerations needed across device versions, OSes, and other differences, it's likely that QA teams will be juggling a lot of different automated and manual test cases. Organizations can leverage enterprise test management software to help handle all of the complexity that comes with mobile and governing various different projects at once. Test management solutions offer a singular portal that QA can leverage to collaborate across applications and test cases. Not only can teams schedule automation from this resource, but they will also be notified if anything fails or defects in the code are found.
Another benefit of test management is that it prioritizes tasks in terms of how quickly they need to be addressed. Let's say a defect was found that could bring down the entire project. This task will obviously be placed higher than something that is more commonly identified. As each item is taken care of, changes are made in real time on the test management solution, ensuring that everyone is always on the same page, and eliminating the potential for duplicated work.
Sync Development and Automation Cycles
In agile environments, the development process is considerably different compared to waterfall methods, most notably the shorter sprints and smaller pieces of code being delivered. Automation should consequently match this change to ensure that processes are being synced up for the best results. TestDroid contributor Ville-Veikko Helppi noted that every time source code is modified, software tests should be repeated with automation. This will help support hardware configurations and variants in operating systems. If this were done manually, it would take a significant amount of time, which is why automating tests, in this case, is so crucial.
"Test automation is an easy task once adopted from the beginning and it will save you time and money while the development goes on," Helppi wrote. "Determining the number of relevant test cases and releases will also indicate how well will test automation work for your project."
Mobile devices are taking over virtually every aspect of daily life. Testing for this hardware will be critical, and by following these tips, QA will be able to leverage automation effectively to ensure thorough mobile evaluation.