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Understanding and Overcoming Mobile Testing Challenges

Posted by Indusa Admin on August 24, 2015 4:40 am

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Mobile devices witnessed extraordinary growth in the last decade. As technological innovations are revolutionizing the world, handheld devices are getting smarter, offering tremendous performance and storage capabilities. With people regularly using mobile devices and apps to perform business tasks, access social networking sites, shop through e-commerce platforms, play virtual games, listen to music, and watch videos, there is an ongoing need for mobile apps to offer exceptional service. The inability of an app to perform as per expectations results in frustration and subsequent deletion of the app, causing huge losses to the app developer in the long run. Easy-to-use UIs, highly responsive and secure apps and seamless connectivity are therefore fundamental requirements to achieve user satisfaction, when it comes to mobile apps.

Mobile Testing Challenges

According to Gartner, the world is expected to witness a staggering 179 billion mobile app downloads by 2016. This huge anticipated download figure is driving organizations to invest in mobile application quality and devise strategies to accommodate the ever-increasing number of devices and operating environments. Testing of applications for usability, functionality, and reliability is critical for ensuring users have a positive experience every time they use a mobile app.

Mobile Testing Challenges

Mobile phones provide a completely different experience than desktops, making mobile testing a totally different ball game. While testing is fundamental for mobile app success, it poses unique challenges. Mobile testing is tough because checking whether the user has their required information at their fingertips within a stipulated time is a challenge; also when testers have to cater to a number of devices and operating systems, it creates a puzzling situation. Below are a few challenges associated with mobile app testing:

  • Mobile Device Assortment:

    Mobile devices possess different interfaces, hardware, screen sizes, and input methods, presenting an obvious challenge to mobile testing. As tens of thousands of mobile devices can be used to access a mobile app through a gamut of operating systems, they must all be considered during the process of testing. Each app needs to be tested for functionality and user friendliness across a variety of physical devices. While real devices present testers with the actual OS, hardware, and ambient conditions, testing for each and every device can prove to be very expensive. On the other hand, testing apps only through emulated devices does not offer a real-life picture to testers, thus limiting their testing environments. By using a combination of real and emulated devices, mobile testers can successfully test applications across a wide range of devices, validating that applications are functioning as expected.

  • Countless Mobile Networks:

    Hundreds of mobile operators around the world are providing a plethora of network technologies to users, from 3G and LTE to GSM and CDMA. Each network has a unique combination of network infrastructure that often presents a variety of mobile testing challenges. As testing of apps across every mobile network is practically impossible, mobile testers need to develop several distinct network emulators that offer real-life scenarios for app testing. Additionally, through the use of real devices on the public cloud, several different testers can successfully test apps on devices connected to live networks, providing deep insight into their apps’ reliability and performance.

  • Testing Across App Types:

    Testing different apps such as native, web, or hybrid apps requires different tools and methodologies. While native apps offer a rich user experience, they add a certain amount of complexity in terms of testing. As native apps are fundamentally tied to the mobile device hardware and operating system for which they are developed, they need to be individually tested for each device and OS to ensure they provide an interactive and fulfilling user experience. Backward compatibility with devices and seamless app performance in spite of OS updates are essential components that need to be looked into while testing native apps. Web apps, on the other hand, usually incorporate cross-browser compatibility and can be easily tested across devices using automated scripting.

  • Testing Tools:

    The huge availability of mobile testing tools and scripts is daunting. Testers need to use the right set of tools to test different app types across devices and operating systems. While automated scripting allows testers to run tests on a periodic basis, they often pose a problem for devices with dissimilar user interfaces. Use of device emulators that are capable of automating test execution using a high-level, abstracted scripting language enables testers to save time and effort in app testing. Automated scripts that have the ability to crawl across mobile devices assist testers in testing entire websites with a single command.

  • Mobile testing automation is still in a nascent stage; even though there are a number of testing tools in the market, mobile automation testers are not easily available. In addition to this, testers have to replicate real-time scenarios while testing. For example:

    • How does the application respond when a user moves from a high frequency network to a low frequency network and vice-versa?
    • What happens when data transfer for a specific application is in progress and the mobile battery drains?
    • How does the application respond when an incoming call takes priority?
    • What happens when a user tries to access a number of other applications along with the specific application under test?

    The mobile phone industry has reached unimaginable heights. According to Cisco’s Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, the number of mobile-connected devices exceeded the world’s population in 2014. App developers need to ensure a great first impression by offering an app that is secure, responsive, and always running. As developers and testers are confronted with a variety of handheld devices, technologies, operating systems, mobile networks, screen sizes, and input controls, developing and running exceptional testing scripts can guarantee a truly delightful user experience. Understanding the various challenges associated with mobile testing and developing strategies to overcome them is the cornerstone of mobile application testing success.


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    Bhumika Sanghvi
    About the Author – Bhumika Sanghvi

    She possesses 9 years of rich project management and software testing experience on varied platforms and domains. She is a regular contributor to software testing community by writing effective articles for SoftwareTestingHelp.com.

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    Contributing Writer: Neha Kumar