Unique Features of Mobile Testing
Mobile application testing services differ greatly from any other project type. Here’s how.
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Many mobile development and testing teams agree that it’s inaccurate to think of mobile applications as the same software running on a smaller device. Indeed, mobile application testing services differ greatly from any other project type. Here’s how we see the unique traits of mobile software testing.
Mobile software is called mobile for a reason: these applications are expected to work on the go, anywhere, and at any time. Furthermore, accessibility is a key distinctive feature of mobile software. The different physical interactions that users have with their mobile devices change a lot for developers, UI/UX designers, and testers. At the same time, the global trend of digital experience personalization also added its twist to user expectations from the software they choose to install. When personalization meets accessibility requirements, demands for project testing teams can get out of hand.
Given that the average smartphone user checks their phone every 6 minutes and expects an app to launch in under 2 seconds, we can confidently say that user requirements for mobile software are far higher than they are for desktop and web applications. Here’s a short list of quick tips that can help app owners evaluate potential user expectations:
- Invest time and effort in target audience research;
- Analyze your potential users’ needs at every stage of the project;
- Research the competitors thoroughly and do this early (ideally, before you even begin to plan your application);
- Clearly define the problem your app is going to solve for the people installing it;
- If you’re not motivated to use your app, do not expect anyone else to be;
- Prioritize application performance and ease of use over anything else.
Physical Testing Devices
One of the biggest pain points of mobile software testing is fragmentation ― a term used to describe the existence of many different physical devices running on different operating systems. And if the number of mobile operating systems nowadays pretty much ends on iOS and Android, there are still numerous versions of each. Add to this a ton of smartphones and tablets, flagship devices and old-but-still-in-use, and you’ll get countless combinations that influence application performance. This is a challenge for mobile testers: they have to define the most used device models and OS versions and document possible combinations to use as a basis for their testing strategy. Obviously, it is impossible to test every single combination, but using the most prevalent of them as your guidance is necessary.
Considering the complicated nature of testing fragmentation, teams that opt for thorough mobile QA testing usually prefer having actual physical devices on hand. Emulators can be useful, but things like UI/UX and installation are hard to be fully evaluated with them. User perception of the app changes drastically depending on screen size, navigation buttons (or gestures), and other technical characteristics of a gadget. This is incomparable to screen resolution change or a few-inch difference in PCs and laptops. Our recommendation here is to accommodate your mobile app QA team with the necessary number of physical devices and make sure you target more than just the newest mobile platform versions.
Or you can always outsource to a team that already has a wide range of physical devices available.
Mobile OS Release Cycles
A great example of such a drastic change is the release of the iPhone X and iOS 11 with their new safeAreaInput values, gesture interface, revolutionary display shape (aka “screen fringe”), artboard size, pixel density, new typography, and so on. What seemed to be unusual and even unwanted has become a permanent feature of modern mobile hardware. Planning to develop a mobile digital product, you have to balance out the most recent OS version with a few older versions as well. Just don’t let outdated platforms distract you from the one you should target the hardest.
How Is iOS Different From Android From a Testing Perspective?
The feud between iOS and Android has been around as long as these operating systems. Technical comparisons aside, mobile developers and testers have to deliver perfectly functioning digital products regardless of the platform they’re built on. As we already know, this highly depends on software testing practices. Are these any different for iOS and Android? If so, how? Here is the list of core factors that set Android and iOS software testing apart.
Unlike iOS, which is exclusively distributed by Apple Inc. and runs only on Apple-branded mobile hardware (iPhone, iPad, etc.) without any customization, Android’s policy regarding customizable OS features is far more democratic. Hardware producers that chose Android as a core for their products are allowed to create custom user interfaces, hiding the core Android mobile architecture beneath design patterns of their choice. The most known custom user interfaces based on Android include One UI by Samsung, EMUI by Huawei, and MIUI by Xiaomi. All of these differ in not only aesthetics but also performance and speed. Understandably, when it comes to Android app testing, QA teams have to spend extra time checking performance and usability on different custom user interfaces, in addition to devices and OS versions.
Open and Closed Systems
In terms of codebase accessibility, the two operating systems also demonstrate drastic differences. iOS is a closed-source system based on the XNU kernel. Programming languages prevailing in iOS are Swift, C, C++, and Objective-C. Apple mobile software development standards are quite strict and ensuring the application’s adherence to these standards is amongst the key responsibilities of iOS app testing teams. Android OS, in turn, has an open-source codebase owned by Google with the OS core being mostly based on Linux and written in C and C++. Google’s policy towards software development and Android application testing has always been rather open and welcoming for engineers. This does not mean that Android mobile app testing and development standards are lower, but definitely more lenient with Google Play contributors. In iOS mobile testing, application updates rarely get approved by Apple’s App Review team after the first attempt.
Due to the fact that Apple maintains its mobile operating system strictly unified, the deployment process with iOS apps usually goes a bit faster compared to Android. This is because Apple tries to maintain similarity in optimization and performance for all the iOS versions currently in use. The phase of preparing your iOS app’s build to be uploaded to the App Store still has a lot of steps to follow, but these will be more or less the same for any iOS version. With the operating system by Google, or better to say with every smartphone/tablet model that didn’t receive the latest OS version or runs on a custom UI, Android app testing services have much more work to do.
Application updating is a very important part of mobile software development and testing. Apple’s App Store update review and approval process are a lot longer than on Google’s Play Market. Waiting for your app’s update to be approved might be annoying, but it does not mean there are no pros to scrupulous update reviewing. Even though Android users receive application updates faster, people who prefer iOS gadgets are less likely to witness their favorite apps crashing because of a poorly tested update build. Both mobile operating systems require extra attention from the software testers when it comes to updating, but specifically with Play Market, nobody wastes too much time checking if your particular update is worth releasing.
Published at DZone with permission of Andrew Smith. See the original article here.
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