While the most difficult parts of app development are definitely coming up with the idea itself and then executing it, it’s still far from over once you actually make the prototype. A finished prototype doesn’t equal a good prototype. Performance is key, and a genius app idea is worth nothing if the application is not usable or functional. That’s why in the software development world we dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to mobile app testing.
Let’s say we have two applications with the exact same purpose. What would make you choose one over the other? Probably not the one that’s lagging or that keeps crashing. You’ll probably delete the app five minutes after you installed it if it took that long to load a single page. What if a large number of people suddenly start using the app – can it deal with the influx? That’s what mobile native app performance testing is for – so those issues can be detected and fixed before the app is launched.
Correcting such mistakes after an app has already been launched may be too late – potential users will have already found alternatives or may not want to bother downloading your app again. Since it’s such a paramount part of app development, we decided to go a bit more in-depth about the process of app performance testing, what approaches to take, and what are the best mobile app testing tools. Let’s get into it!
How to get started with mobile app testing?
Let’s begin with the types of testing: automatic and manual. With an automatic system, the software does all the work, thus saving developers a lot of time. However, for some tests which are usually not repetitive or not that frequent – developing a complicated automated testing process might be unnecessary and often take more time than just performing a manual test. This is why developers use a combined mobile app testing approach of manual plus automated testing depending on the type of tests required.
Based on the type of testing requirements, there are dozens of mobile app testing tools to choose from to help you with the process. Choosing the right tools can make your job much easier. The most popular ones include TestComplete, Espresso, Katalon Studio, Quantum, etc. Another thing to decide at this stage is whether to use simulators and emulators or real devices for conducting the tests. A mixed approach is ideal because simulators are usually faster, but may not be able to catch all the bugs that a real device would. We recommend you start the testing process with simulator software and then use real devices later on in the test cycle.
Mobile App Testing Checklist
There are three types of mobile apps: native, hybrid, and web apps, and each type has its own set of testing requirements. However, there exists a lot of overlap, so rest assured that you can use the following checklist regardless of the type of your app! Another important thing to know is that there are different types, or strategies, of testing requirements, which we will be covering with this checklist!
Mobile functional testing ensures that the app, and all the features in it, work as they are supposed to in order to meet user requirements. It is a vital component of mobile app testing as it will determine an app’s readiness for release to end-users. The following aspects all fall under functional testing:
- Installing and running the app: are there any significant lags or app crashes?
- Handling incoming and outgoing calls and messages with the app running.
- Battery management: how does your app affect a device’s battery?
- Checking memory consumption of the app or certain functionalities which may increase memory use.
- Biometrics like fingerprint or face ID.
- Resuming the app after an interruption: does the app remain in the previous state or is the data gone?
- Responding to push notifications while using the app.
Performance testing is meant to check the performance and reaction of an application under certain conditions. Some scenarios where performance testing is usually conducted are:
- Checking the app’s behaviour under typical and extreme traffic/loads.
- Time it takes to launch the app
- The time it takes to install or uninstall an app
- Stability testing to check if the application can work prolonged periods of time under normal loads.
- Volume testing to analyze app performance when subjected to a large volume of data and traffic.
- App performance when charging and during low battery conditions.
- App performance under changing network conditions: poor connectivity, switch in networks, dead zones, airplane mode, etc.
Usability testing is performed to evaluate the user experience, i.e. how user-friendly or intuitive an app is. As we said in the very beginning, usability is one of the most important qualities of an app which will ultimately decide how well the app does once it’s launched. Usability testing should include:
- Testing screen orientation: does the app have the ability to adjust the application layout upon screen rotation?
- Testing the navigation of the app.
- Testing responsiveness of the mobile menu.
Compatibility testing is concerned with how your mobile app works across various devices and platforms. Some testing points to keep in mind are:
- How your app works across different operating systems.
- Changes in the user interface.
- Changes across different internet browsers.
- Testing screen resolution: is the app adaptable to various screen sizes without losing image quality?
- Testing compatibility across different database configurations.
- Testing compatibility on different devices (mobiles, tablets, laptops, etc.) based on processor type, battery capacity, RAM, etc.
Accessibility mobile app testing is used to see if your app is used by as many people as possible. Accessibility is not just a nice asset but is also required by law in many countries, so this stage is often mandatory in order to comply with accessibility regulations. This type of testing ensures that your app is accessible to people with disabilities such as hearing and vision impairment, or cognitive issues. Be sure to test for:
- App readability.
- Screen magnification.
- Verification of the color ratios between text and background and text color contrast.
- Speech recognition capability.
- Dynamic font size.
- Voice-over and talk-back features.
- Logical and consistent structure and navigation within the app.
Security testing is administered to validate the security features of your app, i.e. making sure the sensitive personal data remains safe. During this stage you should test for:
- Two-factor authentication.
- Proper storage and encryption of private data.
- Vulnerability to hackers and viruses.
- Authentication of app permissions and certificates.
- Error reporting and reactions to breaches in the app’s security.
Challenges of mobile app testing
As you can see, there is A LOT to think about when planning for the mobile app testing stage. Testing across different devices, features, operating systems, etc. is not going to go smoothly all the time, and you need to be mentally prepared to deal with the roadblocks. Some of the challenges you may come across while testing your app are:
- The sheer variety and number of different devices, device sizes, and screen resolutions mean a large number of use cases that really can’t all be tested.
- Testing for different browsers given that browsers such a Chrome or Firefox are updated very frequently, necessitating more frequent apps for the app as well.
- UX issues as well as issues with app performance.
- Mobile network bandwidth is challenging as a balance must be struck between how fast an app works and how it performs in terms of data communication.
- Dynamic user requirements, the solution for which is to adopt an agile development method capable of coping with the changing demands.
- Battery consumption and the variety of battery capacity – the more complex the app, the more it drains the device’s energy and requires feature optimization.
- Security concerns – mobile phones are much more prone to breaches since it’s simpler to access the cache. When paired with poor encryption, this can spell disaster.
- Time to market – testers might be working on tight schedules and deadlines which don’t allow for proper or extensive testing.
- Too many testing tools to choose from – instead of making the job easier, they might cause confusion and delays if the team can not find the best tool for their app.
Application testing is not something you should do as an afterthought – it requires a methodical approach that takes time to develop and execute! The testing stage doesn’t even have to wait until the prototype has even been finished – in fact it’s better to already start the tests at an earlier stage of the application lifecycle. Furthermore, all the different strategies of testing we mentioned in this article are important. Skip one, and you risk dropping the ball. You may be swayed into focusing more of your attention on the user experience side of the app, but that doesn’t make performance or security any less significant or necessary!
Mobile app testing is not a simple undertaking and it’s certainly not something anyone could attempt on their own. We have experience developing launch-ready apps across various industries – that’s why we are always updated on the current trends and practices. If you need help developing and testing a new mobile application – contact Redvike now!