In the last decade, the use of smartphones has experienced an exponential increase to the point where it is no longer considered a rapidly expanding industry, but rather an integral part of our daily lives. Based on current research, the average American spends more than 5 hours on their mobile device each day.
Mobile app testing has become an indispensable component of the mobile app development process as every company strives to ensure that their app is functional, secure, and user-friendly. As a result, the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) has created a distinct certification path for mobile testers, illustrating that mobile testing is no longer just a separate form of testing, but rather a distinct approach with its own set of tools, methods, and tactics.
Key Characteristics of Mobile Devices that Affect Testing
Mobile devices have several unique features that must be taken into account during mobile application testing, beyond regular functional testing.
- Coverage of mobile devices
- Special mobile functions
- Memory leak and energy consumption
Coverage of Mobile Devices
When it comes to mobile application testing, devices are the largest category to focus on as your starting point. For many companies, this can be a challenging aspect as the number of device types keeps growing, and the budget to maintain such a fleet, like Facebook’s, is often unattainable. Cross-platform testing poses a significant problem as device manufacturers, OS types and versions (iOS/Android), screen sizes, and densities can affect the UI.
Thus, it is crucial to address two important questions when planning mobile testing: Which devices will we use for testing? And, what will we use to conduct the testing?
Answering the first question requires utilizing either your own collected statistics on user application usage context with devices or studies provided by companies regarding the most commonly used devices worldwide. The official Android and iOS websites offer separate statistics, and additional device characteristics can be accessed here. Ideally, to conduct mobile app testing, a group of the top 10 mobile devices should be used. If such a group is not created, then the most popular versions of iPhone and Samsung can be used, and the rest of the devices can be checked using emulators. However, the quality of such testing will be substantially lower without a physical device to cross-reference. Another option to consider would be mobile farm services that enable remote connection to a real mobile device for testing the application.
Special Mobile Functions
Mobile testing differs from web application testing as it involves testing unique mobile device features, such as:
- Screen Orientation
- Touch-interface and typing
- GPS and Location services
- Face ID
Including these functions in the test, plan is crucial for testing any mobile application, and testing them on real devices is preferable.
Network Testing: Analyzing Traffic and Emulating Different Situations
Apart from testing the external behavior of the program, analyzing network traffic and emulating the application in different situations, like a network outage or weak internet, is equally important. Traffic inspection enables in-depth functionality testing, detecting defects that may not be visible visually and accurately diagnosing their causes. Traffic sniffers like Charles or Fiddler are typically used to conduct such testing.
Memory Leak and Energy Consumption
When testing mobile devices, particular emphasis should be placed on memory leaks and battery power consumption. These factors are critical because, unlike laptops, mobile device users do not always have a charger at hand. A quickly depleted battery can become a nightmare for the user. Unfortunately, it is quite common to find programs that can drain your phone’s battery in less than an hour, so it’s critical to understand how your application impacts battery consumption. It is also important to understand the memory consumption that occurs when the program is running in the background or when the device’s battery is low.
Adapting Your Application for Different Countries
Finally, let’s focus on localization. Some companies, particularly those with an international presence, include additional localization features to customize the application for different countries. In such cases, it is crucial to test not only the technical aspects, such as verifying that all screens are translated and checking for errors when switching languages during operation but also to assess the user experience of individuals from different countries. It is possible that people from other cultures have different expectations when interacting with a mobile application than we do.
Let Us Help You: Comprehensive Mobile App Testing by Our Experts
Mobile testing involves a vast array of testing techniques and methods that differ significantly from web application testing. It is essential that your testing specialists possess the right skills and experience to effectively test your apps or new versions of your app before they go to market. If your team lacks such experience, our First Line Software experts are here to help ensure your applications get to market!
Delivery QA Director at First Line Software
Alexander Meshkov is QA Delivery Director at FLS. Alexander has over 10 years of experience in software testing, organization of the testing process, and test management. A frequent attendee and speaker of diverse testing conferences, actively engages in discussions and keeps up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in the field.