Mobile Application Testing – History, Today and Tomorrow
The excitement in mobile application development would come to naught if not backed by proper wholesome testing procedures. Application development and testing go hand in hand. As the saying goes “To err is human!”, and since the creators of these apps are also humans, it necessitates testing of the apps.
Therefore, even a pundit in app development needs to have his/her apps tested by an equally competent tester. In Europe, the European Union Commission mandates that developed apps be tested before they are made public.
What is Mobile App Testing?
To the wannabe geeks, Mobile App Testing is the process of testing an application developed exclusively for a hand-held device and using a particular operating system. The testing is performed to ascertain if the app’s features function correctly, is user-friendly and long-lasting. Testing is conducted at different times and conditions before the app is certified worthy of being used.
History of Mobile AppTesting
Like any other process, testing of mobile apps also underwent changes to stay abreast of the latest in app development. The following couple of paragraphs testify the extent to which testing has had adapt itself to rapid changes in the mobility space.
Hardware based testing (for first generation mobile apps): various components and interconnecting wires were used to test apps in mobiles, mostly via remote access. Most often a hardware interface called screenshot was used to interact with the app undergoing test. Such techniques later petered out due to their lackadaisical output against later apps that were richly designed.
Software based testing (for second generation mobile apps): in this method, designed especially for the richly designed apps, software is used to access the object in the app and its attributes that make the app perform the tasks. Since it taps into the object class directory, this technique yields few incorrect results compared to the hardware method of testing.
Challenges in Mobile App testing
Unlike personal computer, the mobile market has to deal with diversity of options while testing the app and these pose the greatest challenges.
The issue might get compounded in case of enterprises where different mobile infrastructures are operating on various OS negating any integration efforts. Developing apps like mobile retail, mobile banking, mobile health and so on present challenges on scale, integration, implementation and sustenance touch points of business operations. A mobile application development company needs to bear these factors in mind while developing apps for such enterprise clients.
Most of these challenges can be classified under the following list:
- Various Operating Systems (OS): Operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows, Bada, Blackberry, BREW and so on pose a challenge to testing sometimes requiring tweaking of testing techniques.
- Mind boggling number of phones: Like grains of sand, the astounding number of mobiles available in the market has ensured that testing apps in at least some of them, if not all, poses a stifling exercise. Size of the screen, resolution, search/input methods, processor and so on determine the functioning of an app. These parameters too must be considered while testing apps in the mobile.
Coupled with different OS, these two factors pose the greatest challenge to testing apps in mobiles.
- Communication technology: Mobile communication primarily takes place over the Group Speciale Mobile (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA), Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) standards. These standards impose their nature on the physiology of the apps and their functioning, thereby nominating themselves as test factors.
- Network service providers: There are many providers of mobile network service over the communication standards. The flow of information in apps depends on the type of service provided over the standard.
- Scripting: Different mobile devices and different OS pose a challenge in that scripting needs to be customized in terms of command input methods, keystrokes, navigation structure and so on.
Different Ways of Testing Apps
A one size fits all testing obviously doesn’t work in testing of apps. Instead, different approaches are required to test apps across mobiles varying in sizes and functions. On a broader level the following types of testing can be performed:
- Performance testing: the behavior of the app is determined under various conditions like network coverage, battery status, memory status, access to server hosting the app and its load bearing capacity. Most often the worst case or highest stress point is applied for testing, for example, the app’s performance is tested when the mobile’s battery is low.
- Laboratory testing: network providers usually carry out this test on apps that use the network’s data and voice services.
- Functional testing: functions that the app claims to perform are tested thoroughly.
- Usability testing: this type of testing determines if the app is easy to navigate and performs all the functions required of it without hesitation or lag. This is an important test since success of the app depends on how users perceive the app.
There are other tests like memory leakage test, installation test, certification tests that also need to be completed before the app is made worthy of usage on a large scale.
As mentioned earlier in this article, mobile application testing goes hand in hand with the mobile application development. App specifically developed for Enterprise mobility need to undergo compulsory testing. Therefore whether one indulges in Android Application Development, Windows Phone Application Development, iPhone Application Development or any other mobile application development platform, they need to test their apps. This applies to independent app developers as well. Which is why, they enlist the help of fellow developers in their community to test their apps.