Should You Automate Mobile Testing?
Whether it's device testing, regression testing, unit tests, or performance, chances are that automation can at least ease the pain and repetition good tests require.
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The number of digital users is growing, and there is a sharp increase in the adoption of smartphones — no arguments there. Mobile apps usage seems to be dominating this landscape. While desktop applications are not becoming redundant, it is clear that mobile apps are becoming the primary touch points for this growing digital audience. This is where software testing of mobile applications comes into sharper focus. Organizations have to take mobile testing initiatives seriously and to approach this in an organized manner.
Mobile application testing can be a complex process. Given the frequent iterations and updates, they have much shorter release cycles when compared to the traditional desktop applications. Frequent introduction of new mobile devices, OS upgrades and customer demands for fast upgrades, means a stress of faster time to market and this also makes software testing more complex. Fundamentally the goal of mobile testing efforts is as much to catch bugs and find errors as it is to assess the quality of the application. Assessing if the application functions as it is designed, if it meets the need of the end users, and is easy to navigate and use so that the users keep coming back to it, also falls within the purview of mobile app testing. The question then is should we automate testing or follow the manual testing route?
There are several aspects that are very specific to mobile applications that need to be considered when designing a software testing strategy. Given that time and resource utilization during manual testing is much higher, test efficiency becomes important. Hence, adopting a comprehensive test automation strategy can help in increasing test coverage and completing the testing process in time. It is important to consider the type of application being developed (whether it is for business, social, gaming, banking, or others), the target audience and distribution channels etc. to set out the testing process. In this article, we take a look at some of the areas that should be tested thoroughly and if these lend themselves to automated testing
Usability and User Experience Testing
The usability and user experience of mobile apps will be completely different from desktop applications and testers need to make sure that their application delivers a uniform user experience across all smartphones. Testing all aspects of usability such as icons, menu bar, and buttons, etc. can be a time consuming and expensive process especially when done manually. Test automation can help considerably here. This allows testers to collect a snapshot of preview images to discover UI errors.
The number of unit test cases increase as new features get added to the application with every release. As the number of unit test execution cycles increase as the project progresses, adopting test automation ensures greater test coverage and better testing and test automation ROI by freeing up resources and maximizing time utilization.
End to End Functional Flow Tests
Conducting end to end functional flow tests are an important part of mobile testing. As new user stories develop it is imperative to conduct an impact analysis of the features. This helps to ensure that the feature interaction scenarios can be verified and to assess if features work as designed. Automated testing here prevents gaps. The entire suite of user stories can be executed to verify that the new user stories do not impact the existing functionalities.
As each new feature is developed, testers need to conduct rigorous regression tests to ensure that the basic functionality of the application remains unaffected by the additions. Manual testing of the same repetitive tasks is not only time consuming but can also lead oversight due to human error. Since these tests are repetitive, automating regression tests can help too by ensuring backward compatibility.
Testers need to check the performance of the application with changing network connections and ensure that the application is working with variable or limited network bandwidth. Testers need to check memory utilization, cache size availability, internal data usage, CPU utilization, and perform load tests, stress tests, volume tests, capacity tests, smoke tests and recovery tests etc. to assess the performance of the application. Considering the limited number of resources, utilizing test automation tools and writing comprehensive test cases for the same can take some of the pain out of performance testing
With new screen sizes being introduced almost every day, testers need to ensure the mobile application being developed adapts to the phone screen size, displays correctly and provides a uniform application experience that is device-independent. While it might not be possible to test the application on each and every device available in the market, testers can leverage a host of mobile device simulators to test the application functionality. Some of the factors to consider here are:
Checking the application on all major OS versions.
Testing the application on all form factors (tablets and smartphones).
Testing the display density on the chosen device models.
Utilizing testing tools that do not deal with the source code helps in reducing the complexity of UI testing during the device testing phase and also allows testers to reproduce complex sequences of user actions.
Apart from these, testers also have to test the network environment, voice- or IVR-based Scenarios and also test for device specific features. Manual testing can be employed effectively for these tests as the APIs here are tightly packaged and can be difficult to simulate in test code.
Testing mobile applications is a complex task that not only needs deep testing and QA knowledge but also a clear understanding of technology, hardware, and user needs. By judiciously selecting the candidates for automation, testers can achieve maximum benefits. Testers need to carefully evaluate target devices, connectivity options and utilize automation tools that maximize test automation to expedite the testing process and reduce long-term costs to design a cost effective and yet comprehensive mobile testing process.
We invite you to stay tuned for our future blogs, where we will look to take a deeper dive into some of the specifics of leveraging test automation for mobile app testing.
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