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Explaining the Difference Between Web and Mobile App Testing

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Explaining the Difference Between Web and Mobile App Testing

The functionality of mobile and web version of an app is almost identical, but the app QA process isn't. So what's the same and what's different?

· Performance Zone ·
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If a product has a web and a mobile version of an application, their functionality is almost identical. The app QA process, however, will flow differently for each platform due to their particularities.

A mobile application has become an umbrella term that covers three different types of apps – native, PWA, and hybrid. Each is coded in a specific way and has some distinctive features. 

Mobile applications are designed for a broader range of users and more diversified devices. Not only iOS and Android smartphones come with numerous OS versions and screen sizes, but there are tablets, watches, fitness trackers, and other gadgets. Each requires customized functional design and adjustments of existing features so that software can run smoothly.

Web apps aren’t supposed to work on the go. They are also less complicated since the diversity of browsers isn’t that astonishing. The number of user interaction options and environments where an app operates is smaller. 

As you can guess, the scope of testing tasks and focus points will be different for mobile and web applications. And as you move from web to mob, the amount of work starts to grow exponentially.

Web and Mobile: What’s Common in Testing?

The testing process and procedures are the same. You get familiar with the functionality, proceed to estimation, decide what to cover by manual software testing, think where to apply automation, write cases, and so on. 

Web and mobile applications would share the same types of testing: 

  • Functional testing.
  • Performance testing.
  • Recovery testing.
  • Compatibility testing.
  • GUI testing.
  • Usability testing.
  • Localization testing.
  • Regression testing.

It is not a definite list of inspections, but most likely, the product will require these checks regardless of its functionality. The checklist gets more precise when you share the details about your software and goals with a QA team. 

Web vs Mobile: What’s Different in Testing?

So the types of testing are common since we deal with the same functionality. However, quality assurance solves different technical challenges closely tied to the specific features of every platform.

Online/Offline Mode

Web apps don’t work offline, just like PWAs. But when it comes to native and hybrid applications, there’s a difference. 

It is critical to verify that a mobile application works correctly when a device connects to Wi-Fi or cellular network (3/4/5G) and when the connection is interrupted. When the data is off, an app shouldn’t crush but launch and display no internet connection message.

Apps can also offer access to some features offline, like interaction with pre-loaded data, usage of cached files, etc. But when the connection is on, data synchronization should be immediate and take a few seconds at most.

RAM and Storage Capabilities

Many mobile devices still come with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage space. These specifications put restraints on operation and app performance. Some things slow down web apps, too: outdated hardware, low storage, many tabs opened simultaneously, etc. These factors, however, are less numerous and less critical. Besides, web apps are updated less frequently, and these updates don’t affect device memory.

(Not So) Important Battery Life

Battery life isn’t a point of concern for desktop computers. It is often a low priority for laptops since we mostly use them connected to a power source. Meanwhile, a low battery on a mobile device can shut down all but core features. 

Users are cautious about apps that drain the battery and are quick to uninstall them. So, if we are talking about a mobile application, it is essential to pay attention to how it uses device resources. Always go beyond using virtual devices and conduct real-device testing.

Interaction Options 

You don’t have to go through the install/uninstall process with a web application. So, smoke testing will start with a different user action. But there’s more to user interaction. 

All the operations with browser-based applications happen via mouse clicks and button combinations. We've also got a touchpad on laptops, and that’s the most diverse it gets. With mobile apps, we can tap, swipe, pull, shake, pinch, use voice commands – a quite long list to check. Device-specific headsets and other innovations add even more complexities. 

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Both types of applications are tested against different browsers. Web-based apps are usually easier to examine, while hybrid mobile apps are to be tested against a large number of devices and OS. It becomes even more challenging when you remember the variety of screen sizes and OEM’s custom skins.

Automated Testing for Web and Mobile Apps

As a rule, mobile applications are updated more frequently, so the need for automating regression testing is higher. The case with GUI is similar. Due to the diversity of screens and devices, the scope of tasks during mobile app testing is vast, and automation can be a real time-saver. 

It doesn’t mean, however, that you should forget about automated regression or GUI testing for a web application. Just estimate if it's reasonable for a particular project. Other candidates for automation are API, smoke, performance, and acceptance testing. 

To choose an app testing tool, consider the following:

  • OS and browsers you need to check;
  • areas that require inspection and types of testing to apply; 
  • whether non-technical team members will be involved;
  • scripting languages you work with;
  • whether you are going to use a tool regularly;
  • whether you need a free or paid option. 

Tools for Web App Testing

  • Selenium – probably the most commonly used tool, an open-source framework that supports multiple programming languages and offers integration with other tools. 
  • TestComplete – one more widely used tool for cross-platform web testing that easily integrates with other systems.
  • LambadaTest – a tool that combines a cloud-based Selenium grid with over 2000 browser combinations. 

Tools for Mobile Automation Testing

The choice of tools for mobile app testing may get complicated since not all of them are universal. Some software options work with a particular platform only, but there are those compatible with native, web, and hybrid applications at once. You can consider using one of the following: 

  • Selendroid – Selenium’s test framework for Android app testing (native and hybrid). 
  • Appium – for Android and iOS app testing (native, web, and hybrid apps). 
  • Calabash – for Android and iOS testing (native and hybrid apps). 

To Sum Up

There are differences between mobile and web application testing, but both types share the same functionality. It means that slightly varying features still require to pass the checkup under the same testing types. 

Based on the personal experience, I can say that the scope of work and strategic areas we focus on is what makes web app testing different from mobile app testing. Remember about this when you start planning a product SDLC. 

Topics:
mobile application, qa and software testing, quality assurance, software testing, software testing (industry), web application

Published at DZone with permission of Kate Zalozna . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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