Mobile Application Testing: Challenges and Approaches

Testing is a huge challenge for mobile application development. Testing for mobile applications represents a quantum leap in complexity and cost over more traditional applications. Unlike traditional PC and Web applications, the range of potentially supported mobile devices and release levels is staggering. It is quite common to see test matrices for mobile projects that contain hundreds and even thousands of permutations of device, mobile OS level, network carrier, locale, and device orientation combinations.

The majority of mobile apps are multi-tier architecture, with the code running on the device itself being the "front-end" client to data and services supplied by more traditional middle-tier and data center "back-ends". Effective and comprehensive testing of mobile apps requires that all tiers of the application be addressed, not only the code on the mobile device. The set up and availability of test versions of the middle tier and back-end services can present very large cost and complexity challenges for the testing of mobile applications.

There are multiple approaches to mobile testing:

  • Manual Testing

  • Using mobile device simulators and emulators for your testing

  • Rely on running an agent program on the device that a test script can interact with in an automated execution

The Case for Automated Mobile Testing

Automating your mobile testing has two main advantages, increasing efficiency and cost savings. With automated testing, imagine you are able to conduct manual tests with simple scripts and run it repeatedly. You save human resources and money. Automated testing helps QA teams quickly create and test scripts to capture, verify and replay user interactions.

Every second saved by forgoing continuous manual input adds up, thus relieving the stress and resources, enabling testing to be streamlined. Some companies are able to automate all of their mobile testing. Depending on the type of app you are testing, at least 80 percent of it can be automated, however, factoring app functionality on different devices and platforms, there is often a need to supplement it with ad hoc manual testing.

Leveraging the tools that help measure and evaluate the quality of your mobile app or website, you can use real device testing or automated scripting to assess the quality of services. This will help you to determine the user’s experience in the environment of the App or service once its launched.