Cheatsheet for Successful Mobile Application Testing – 6 Useful Aspects You Can’t Ignore Building Android or iOS Apps

People hate when applications crash. 53% of mobile users will delete an app if it is error-prone or continuously breaks down unless they can’t survive without it.

So, if your app isn’t Instagram or Snapchat, make sure it works accurately whatever happens. While mobile apps become smarter and users get choosy, your task is to release a fast, well-performing and bug-free product. An adequate app testing strategy is critical for this purpose.

40% of tech startups fail because of the poor quality assurance or its complete absence. Flud, the first social news reader application for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, is a vivid example of a startup failure due to the disregarded testing services.The product might have been more successful, but a massive amount of bugs and errors it contained let down its triumph.

Technology is omnipresent, as well as businesses should be. Launching a mobile app unfolds new horizons for you, as it is an instrument to reach a broader audience and get in touch with it within multiple platforms. But such spread also creates the most significant pitfall for mobile app testing — no single platform as in web app testing, but a bunch of various devices to cover.

The combination of devices and platforms impacts on which audience you should target, what type of application you should develop and which channels you’d better choose for distribution. All these factors matter when you design test plans and test cases. In this blog post, we’ll cover the essential aspects and give you practical recommendations on how to effectively plan and perform your iOS and Android app testing. We decided to choose these platforms as they control the lion share of the market.

1. Mind the difference between Android and iOS app Testing

Types of operating systems

Android is based on Google’s open-source code, usually with Linux OS at its core. Apple, on the contrary, developed a whole new closed-source iOS operating system for mobile devices. Every application built for iOS must be adjusted to strict Apple guidelines and approved by the company before the release. Thus, be careful about pushing apps to the Apple App Store, as once it is submitted, you cannot amend anything — just wait until Apple accept or reject your app.   Android has a bit simpler procedure of app validation and approval for Google Play Market. Google even let developers modify software or upload several versions on one app during a day.

Types of devices

It takes more time to test an Android app, as you have to validate it on many various devices with different layout and sizes. You can apply any design to your Android app, but the software performance may differ depending on the gadget, creating additional challenges for the testing scope. Apple has a smaller variety of devices, and they all work similarly, which saves lots of time on testing.

2. Emulators vs physical devices

There are two ways to test how your app complies with specific hardware and software: emulators and simulators or real devices. Each method has its pros and cons, but we advise to use a combination of both to make your testing strategy more accurate and cost-effective. It only depends on which stages you will follow each of these approaches.

Mostly, emulators are useful during the development phase and ensure a rapid testing process — it’s practical and cost-effective. Various simulators are advantageous for basic app functionality testing and provide dynamic parameters for network bypass, test scripting languages and a pseudo-live environment.

On the other hand, physical devices are indispensable when it comes to beta testing, which allows understanding how apps behave in real-life conditions. In comparison to physical tools, emulators fail to cover such areas like multiple networks (Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G), network density, specific app performance on each gadget and user-interaction with the application. So, as one can hardly create the real-life testing environment with the help of emulators, you won’t do without physical devices at this stage.

3. Testing stages: alpha and beta testing

 You may have some practical experience in software testing, and you probably know its life-cycle, which consists of four main phases: unit testing, integration testing, system testing and acceptance testing. So where did alpha and beta testing come from? In mobile app testing, the acceptance phase is divided into two separate stages — alpha testing and beta testing, as you may see in the following scheme:

Alpha and Beta testing

Credit: Guru99

What is the difference between alpha and beta testing types?

Alpha testing aims to fix obvious bugs and defects a system may have on the final development laps. It is carried in a lab environment and will help you make sure the product is ready for a public release.

Alpha testing provides earlier detection of errors so that you can apply changes to the app’s design and functionality accordingly. The test ensures users get the stable and qualitative software, providing you with better insights on application’s reliability and robustness. The verification is usually performed by in-house teams of developers, using the white box and the black box techniques. It means that depending on the task, developers may know or doesn’t know the internal codes and program structure. The primary focus of this approach is to act like users do, outperforming their typical actions.

Beta testing is a form of external user acceptance testing, as it is performed by a limited number of real users in real-life conditions. Beta testing provides a better vision of your app’s core features: do they meet user needs, or is the quality high enough?

The main advantage of a beta testing stage is user feedback. Direct customer validation of your app highlights critical issues you still need to enhance and allows you to adopt valuable input into product functionality, design and usability.

Is it necessary to perform both of these testing stages?

It is not obligatory, but we advise to do so, as each method empowers another. Thus, if you perform alpha testing and then continue with beta testing, this combination will help you eliminate failure risks and provide end-users with the first-rate product.

4. What to test?

To make your application fast, robust and adjusted to the end-user expectation, you should combine various approaches to QA and test every aspect of an app. It will help you eliminate possible issues before they influence your app consumers and puts your reputation in danger.

First of all, pay attention to how easy it is to install and uninstall your application. The installation and getting updates of a newer version must be smooth and fast, without any crashes. Moreover, if your app is uninstalled (though we believe it won’t be), make sure there is no extra data left on the gadget.

Test your app on a plethora of mobile devices and operating systems, as we have advised you previously. The application should function as designed across multiple platforms and stay stable despite any OS factors.

Don’t forget about user interface and user experience testing — with all the tech novelties everyone wants to engage with an up-to-date product. The look and feel of your app is essential for retention rates, as 52% of mobile consumers state that they will most probably give up on a company which provides the terrible user experience. UI and UX testing should be performed from user’s perspective and make sure the app is fast, easy to utilize, intuitive and friendly. On this stage, it is necessary to check if all the menus and icons display correctly and whether application units align with user actions.

Another essential aspect is functional testing, as is ensures your software works as it should, according to all the initial requirements and specifications. It also involves user interactions and depends on end-user perspective to examine if everything functions properly. Testing your app functionality eliminates bottlenecks and risks that can make you lose customer trust and loyalty — you’re unlikely to succeed if you don’t deliver functions you promised or users expected.

Keep in mind that users always do multitasking and run multiple apps simultaneously, so your task is to establish a smooth transition between these apps. You have to make sure that your app doesn’t affect any other open projects and vice versa.  Moreover, there’s another challenge — interruptions in forms of incoming calls and messages, push notifications, system warnings and network problems. Test how your app behaves in these conditions and ensure it’s capable of dealing with such interferences. Interrupts should not become a reason for crashes and freezes, displaying both an app and a notification correctly.

Check connectivity and guarantee your application is optimized to work correctly with different network speeds. Today, the fast-paced world dictate rules for efficient and flexible customer experience. That’s why your application has to be stable and fast to hook users, to make sure it is — apply performance testing. It will help you define if your software works according to prescribed levels of quality, speed and reliability. Few minutes or even seconds of downtime can cost you reputation and vast of money. So, make sure your app is resistant to the peak loads, increased traffic and a significant amount of users. Performance testing will help you outline possible bottlenecks, memory leaks and slow response time to remove these factors furtherly.

According to HPE Cyber Risk Report, 90% of app vulnerabilities are caused by security functions, so the last but not the least is security testing. Applications usually contain loads of users’ data, and you have to guarantee your customers that it is secured from malicious attacks. Security testing will spot all the security gaps, uncover and fix vulnerabilities and protect software from unauthorized access or fraud. Let your app consumers feel safe and have ultimate confidence in your product, preventing every possible malfunction.

5. Manual or automation testing?

It’s not difficult to guess what does “manual testing” mean: test cases are executed manually, without any support from tools and scripts. The main advantage of manual testing is useful when you have to understand user journey and user experience on your app, as testers can also check whether it is user-friendly enough and analyse its usability. However, manual testing is not accurate due to possible human errors.

Manual checks are also more time-consuming and take lots of human resources, so it’s irrational to use this method for frequently repeated actions. For code that requires from an hour to a day to update, manual testing will be a total waste of human resources and time. Even though manual QA may not be as accurate as automation is, they are still a necessity because some parts of a testing scope are impossible to examine with the help of emulators.  

Automated testing, on the other hand, is more reliable. It eliminates the chance of human errors thanks to using automated tools and scripts. Automation is faster, more cost-effective and practical when it comes to the test cases that repeatedly run over an extended period. Once your scripts are written, you can reuse it at no additional cost. Thus, automation testing is excellent to align actions within a broad testing scope, covering a variety of tests, which you can run simultaneously on multiple devices. But it still doesn’t give you a chance for human observation to guarantee the application’s usability.

Knowing these nuances about manual and automation testing, you can find what is the best fit for you, depending on your budget and timeline.

6. In-house or outsourse?

Outsourcing keeps gaining popularity as it provides business owners with access to a huge pool of qualified QA experts, usually with lower labour prices, and exceptional testing tools. It saves your time, money and resources, as having delegated all the testing activities, you may focus on product architecture improvement, technical support organization etc. While in-house testing gives you full command of all operations, it is more time-consuming and requires full dedication to the QA processes.

For sure, having an in-house team of experts is also beneficial and rewarding, but check your budget first. Not every startup can afford senior testers full-time, especially on the early stage of business, when there is no established flow of incoming work and money. For example, lots of modern giant companies used to outsource their software development and quality assurance while being on the startup level. Slack, Opera, GitHub, Skype and many more decided to rely on outsourcing, and, as you see, it has been a total success.

In case you feel like in need of further consultancy on your testing issues, or you are ready to entrust your app testing to an outsourced team of professionals — contact us! We can establish robust QA processes, optimize your workflow and guarantee a continuous quality of your app. Make sure your application is secure, reliable and provides a seamless customer experience: get in touch with us.

02 May 2018
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Olya Bohun / Tech Enthusiast
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