Mobile App Functional Testing: A Detailed Guide

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Functional Testing

Mobile App Functional Testing: A Detailed Guide

Today, mobile application functional testing is top-of-mind for engineers and testing professionals alike, and for good reason: it helps to ensure an optimal user experience, regardless of what type of device is used to access the application.

What is Mobile App Functional Testing?

Mobile app functional testing is a type of software testing that focuses on verifying that the functions and features of a mobile application work as intended and meet the specified requirements. It involves testing the app’s user interface, interactions, data handling, and other functional aspects to ensure that the app performs correctly and provides a positive user experience.

Why is Mobile App Functional Testing Essential?

When we conduct mobile application functional testing, we’re assessing application functionality, usability, visual appeal, and consistency across multiple mobile devices. This is important because poorly performing web apps can significantly impact individual and collective perception of a brand; it can also make a substantial financial impact in regard to software updates and user abandonment. Remember: Maintaining customer satisfaction – for real users – is always key.

How is mobile functional testing different from desktop application testing?

Mobile functional testing differs from desktop application testing primarily due to the unique characteristics of mobile devices and the environments in which they operate. Here are some key differences:

  1. Device Diversity: Mobile testing must account for a wide range of devices with varying screen sizes, resolutions, processing power, and operating systems. Desktop testing, on the other hand, typically involves fewer variations in hardware configurations.
  2. Touch Interface: Mobile apps often rely on touch gestures for user interaction, requiring testing of touch responsiveness, multi-touch gestures, and gestures specific to each platform. Desktop applications primarily use mouse and keyboard inputs.
  3. Network Variability: Mobile devices frequently switch between different network types (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi), which can affect app performance. Desktops are typically connected to stable, high-speed internet connections.
  4. Context Sensitivity: Mobile apps can utilize device features such as GPS, cameras, and accelerometers, which may require specific testing scenarios not applicable to desktop applications.
  5. App Stores: Mobile apps are distributed through app stores, which impose specific guidelines and requirements that must be followed. Desktop applications are usually installed directly from the web or a CD.
  6. Offline Functionality: Mobile apps often need to function offline or with limited connectivity, requiring specific testing scenarios to ensure data synchronization and app functionality.
  7. User Expectations: Users have different expectations for mobile apps compared to desktop apps. Mobile apps are expected to be fast, responsive, and user-friendly, which places a greater emphasis on testing usability and performance.

Overall, mobile functional testing requires a more comprehensive and diverse approach to account for the unique challenges and characteristics of mobile devices and environments.

Types of Mobile Functional Testing

Digital tools and mobile applications today serve a variety of purposes, and it only makes sense that a number of different types of mobile testing exist to address different concerns. Mobile app testing types are easy to understand. Here, we’ll introduce some of them with context about what sets each apart.

Usability Testing

A satisfied user is the ultimate goal of any software application performance testing strategy, and usability focuses on that user experience. While the technicalities of an application certainly have value, usability testing reminds us that it all comes down to human interaction.

So, what is considered here? Interaction design, ease of use, intuitiveness, and accessibility are all important during the usability testing process.

Ease of user experience image

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing seeks out the potential for unexpected behaviors or edge cases through unscripted, open-ended testing methods. While other testing types hone in on specific issues, exploratory testing might be thought of as a bit more curious.

Regression Testing

Have you ever updated an app, only to discover that the software update in question resulted in less than optimal performance? Regression testing exists to help testing professionals determine if changes or updates to a software application might adversely affect its existing functionalities.

Localization Testing

The world is a very big place — perspectives, assumptions, language, and cultural expectations can vary quite a bit. That’s where localization testing enters the picture.

Localization testing seeks to verify that any particular mobile app functions correctly for its target language, region, and cultural context. User interface (UI) elements, content, and functionality are vetted for proper performance within its targeted market.

Smoke Testing

Smoke performance testing (sometimes referred to as build verification testing) is performed to verify whether vital functionalities of an app are working correctly after a new build or release has taken place. When smoke testing is being conducted, the mobile app testing process 

What issues can be detected in mobile apps through functional testing?

Mobile app functional testing helps detect various issues and defects that can affect the app’s usability, functionality, and overall quality. Some common issues that can be detected through functional testing include:

  1. User Interface (UI) Bugs: Functional testing can uncover issues related to UI elements such as buttons, menus, text fields, and images not displaying correctly or not functioning as expected.
  2. Navigation Errors: Testing can identify problems with app navigation, including broken links, incorrect screen transitions, or navigation paths that are not intuitive.
  3. Input Validation Issues: Functional testing can reveal issues with how the app handles user input, such as not validating input data correctly, leading to errors or crashes.
  4. Functionality Bugs: Testing helps identify bugs related to the app’s core functionality, such as features not working as expected or producing incorrect results.
  5. Compatibility Problems: Testing can detect compatibility issues with different devices, screen sizes, operating systems, and versions, ensuring the app works correctly across various configurations.
  6. Performance Issues: Functional testing can uncover performance-related issues, such as slow response times, crashes, or excessive resource consumption.
  7. Security Vulnerabilities: Testing can reveal security vulnerabilities, such as insecure data transmission, inadequate authentication and authorization mechanisms, and other issues that could compromise user data or the app’s integrity.
  8. Integration Problems: Testing helps identify issues related to how the app integrates with external systems, services, or APIs, ensuring seamless communication and data exchange.
Image of mobile phone screens illustrating CI/CD

How To Perform Mobile Functional Testing

Functional testing focuses on testing an application’s primary concerns and operation. A robust mobile functional testing strategy allows engineers to better ensure seamless and reliable user experience. Here, I’ll outline the steps necessary to perform mobile functional testing.

1. Identify Core Functionalities

First, identify the core functionalities and user flows that are to be tested — this will depend on the function your application serves, and its intended audience. You can expect to validate specific features, interactions, and expected behaviors.

2. Plan Functional Test Cases

Create a comprehensive set of test cases covering the app’s key functionalities. Prioritize the test cases based on the app’s critical features and user journeys.

3. Set Up Test Environment

Identify the target devices, operating systems, and versions to be tested. Ensure access to the necessary physical devices or emulators/simulators.

4. Develop Automated Test Scripts

These automated test scripts integrate automated testing into the continuous integration (CI) pipeline. Ensure the automated tests cover the app’s critical functionalities and user flows.

5. Execute and Document Test Results

Validate the app’s behavior and responsiveness on various device configurations. Document the test execution, defects, and overall test coverage.

Best Practices for Mobile Functional Testing

As you might imagine, Kobiton mobile testing professionals like myself have learned a trick or two (to put it lightly) related to mobile functional testing. Here are some of the best practices that can be implemented for a successful and comprehensive mobile performance testing strategy.

Test the Network Response

Ensure the app can operate in areas with low connectivity or low internet speeds. Evaluate the app’s behavior under different network conditions.

Use Real Devices for Testing

Test the app on a variety of real mobile devices, not just emulators or simulators. Ensure the app functions correctly across different device models, operating systems, and screen sizes. (Pro tip: Looking for a deeper dive into real testing for a mobile device ? Hit the link for more.)

Test in Different Languages

Verify the app’s functionality and user experience in multiple languages. Ensure the app is localized and culturally appropriate for different regions.

Image of gears illustrating continuous improvement

Role of Mobile Functional Testing in Agile and DevOps

It’s also imperative to familiarize yourself with the role of mobile functional testing in agile and DevOps environments. CI/CD pipelines and parallel testing are covered below.

Continuous Integration (CI)

Continuous integration (CI) allows for running continuous testing at code completion and check-in, ensuring the app’s functionality remains intact throughout the development lifecycle.

Continuous Deployment (CD)

This integration between the CI/CD pipeline and the mobile performance testing platform reduces testing steps and offers faster automation, allowing for more frequent and reliable deployments.

Parallel Testing

This parallel execution of automated functional tests across a range of devices and operating systems helps to ensure comprehensive test coverage and faster feedback within the CI/CD pipeline.

The Future of Functional Testing

What might characterize the future of functional testing? You can bank on innovation, automation, and emerging technologies to lead the way as organizations learn how to deliver quality software solutions and products.

Mobile app functional testing is crucial for ensuring that mobile applications work as intended and provide a positive user experience across various devices. Ready to see for yourself?

Kobiton offers a free trial of its platform, which simplifies mobile testing and enables users to create, execute, and analyze tests easily. Sign up for our free trial today to experience the benefits of Kobiton and take your mobile testing to the next level.

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