The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Application Testing

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The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Testing

With an estimated 4.8 billion smartphone users globally—up 15% from last year—the mobile app development market is projected to reach an estimated $543.6 billion by 2030.  Mobile applications make it easier for smartphone users to access the online resources they need every day. An app’s success or failure is determined by the user experience, making mobile application testing essential for development teams.

Leveraging mobile testing is critical  because the mobile experience covers far more elements than web testing. Creating a high-quality app requires suitable mobile device testing structures and skills. Understanding what mobile testing means is essential to making it an ingrained practice for your team.

In our ultimate mobile application testing guide, you’ll learn the fundamentals—from the types of tests to testing strategies and how to choose the right direction for your organization. We’ll cover the different mobile apps you’ll encounter and the automated testing tools and frameworks app developers use. In this blog, you’ll find a solid list of steps for creating your first mobile testing strategy. 

Image of smart phone with many mobile apps

What is Mobile Application Testing?

For an app to be effective, it must be tested for errors, bugs, and issues that affect its usefulness. Mobile app testing is a general term that describes the range of testing activities of mobile software and applications during the development cycle.  

Mobile testing can take many forms, but it is mainly divided into two types: manual and automated. Within these two categories, you’ll find tests for various elements, including compatibility testing, mobile app security testing, functional testing, performance testing, and more.

What is the Difference Between Mobile Testing and Mobile Application Testing?

Mobile testing refers to the entire mobile environment, typically performed by device manufacturers, network providers, and mobile platform vendors. It’s a broad term that describes mobile device software and hardware functionality, performance, and compatibility. It aims to ensure the overall usability, reliability, and compatibility of mobile devices across various operating systems, screen sizes, and network conditions.

Mobile app testing is also important and focuses on the actual mobile app, its integration within the device and platform capabilities. It verifies the quality and functionality of mobile applications running on these devices. Performed by mobile app developers and quality assurance teams, it involves validating the app’s features, user interface, navigation, data handling, integration, accessibility, and compliance with the target platform’s requirements.

What Are the Three Kinds of Mobile Apps?

Although mobile applications is an all-encompassing term used to describe downloadable apps, the term mobile app refers to apps that are native to a device, as well as web apps. There are three main categorizations to keep in mind:

Native Mobile Applications

Apps that are developed specifically for specific mobile platforms are called native mobile applications. Most often, these are Android or iOS-specific apps developed with programming languages and tools designed for the respective platform. These mobile apps provide more secure access to a device’s features, such as contacts, cameras, GPS, and other device-specific apps.

Web Applications

A web app is a browser-based platform-independent software program designed and optimized to provide a good user experience. Tools used to build desktop web apps—HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—are primarily used to build these. Web apps are also platform-independent and designed to run on any device with a browser.

Hybrid Mobile Applications

Hybrid mobile applications combine elements of native apps and web apps, providing cross-platform compatibility, native device integration, offline capabilities, and more efficient development and maintenance. Web technologies are used in development, but the apps are distributed through native app stores. Popular apps like Twitter, Uber, and Gmail are examples of hybrid mobile applications.

Types of Mobile App Testing? 

Understanding the different types of mobile testing is important to ensure you cover all the critical areas and identify a wider range of issues. The variations of mobile app testing are equally crucial to address unique mobile challenges, optimize the development process, and ensure quality and reliability.

We’ve compiled some of the most important types of mobile app testing for achieving comprehensive test coverage. 

1. Functional testing

Functional testing is an essential component of mobile testing, aimed at scrutinizing an application’s features, user interface, and navigability. This intricate form of testing allows the testers to detect discrepancies between the app’s intended behavior and the actual execution while ensuring that the app aligns with the end user’s requirements.

The ultimate goal of functional testing is to thoroughly evaluate the application’s functionality and ascertain that it fulfills its intended purpose reliably and precisely.

2. Performance testing

Performance testing is a detailed process that inspects an application’s speed, stability, and responsiveness under various conditions, such as network speeds, low battery, and poor signal strength.

With such a comprehensive evaluation, testers can assess an application’s ability to perform consistently and efficiently, irrespective of the operating conditions, and ensure that the app’s performance remains uncompromised.

3. Usability testing

Usability testing is a detailed process designed to ensure that an application suits users’ needs, including their preferences and preferred usage patterns. This form of testing allows developers to gain valuable insight into the best ways to satisfy their end users and keep them using an app.

4. Compatibility testing

Compatibility testing is a thorough and detailed process that analyzes an application’s compatibility with different devices, operating systems, and networks. 

Developers can ensure the application functions optimally and seamlessly on all intended platforms, providing a consistent and reliable user experience with compatibility testing.

5. Security testing

Security testing is an intricate and comprehensive process that evaluates the application’s security features and analyzes its vulnerability to external threats such as hacking, data breaches, and unauthorized access. 

Developers can identify and address potential security threats through this detailed evaluation to ensure the application’s security and maintain the user’s trust in its credibility.

What is UI Testing in Mobile Apps?

UI testing evaluates and validates a mobile application’s user interface across various devices, screen sizes, and operating systems. It focuses on whether the app’s UI elements, such as buttons, menus, forms, images, and text, are correctly displayed, aligned, and responsive to user interactions.

Automated and manual tests verify the app’s visual appeal, consistency, and usability across different mobile platforms and devices to ensure a seamless user experience. 

Image of various devices with different apps open

What factors should you consider before mobile app testing?

There are many factors to consider before choosing a platform that will address your specific needs, improve your testing processes, and deliver high-quality mobile applications to your users.

Device and Platform Coverage

Determine whether the platform’s device cloud provides access to the specific devices and operating system versions required for your app testing needs.

Testing Capabilities

Evaluate support for different types of mobile app testing, such as functional, usability, performance, and security testing for manual and automated testing requirements.

Integration and Collaboration

Examine the integration capabilities with your existing tools, such as CI/CD pipelines, bug tracking systems, and development IDEs.

Deployment Flexibility

Determine deployment options, including cloud-based access, on-premises device labs, and hybrid solutions, align with your organization’s infrastructure and security requirements.

Scalability and Maturity

Assess the ability to scale and adapt as your mobile testing needs evolve, from manual to highly automated testing. Look for experience and a track record in supporting enterprises with mobile testing challenges.

Pricing and Cost-Effectiveness

Review pricing plans and ensure they fit within your budget and testing requirements. Look for  potential cost savings and efficiency gains. 

What is QA Mobile App Testing?

QA mobile app testing is a holistic, strategic, and user-centric approach to overall quality and market readiness. It focuses on ensuring overall quality, performance, security, and user experience, while emphasizing the app’s UX compatibility and consistency across a range of operating systems, devices, and network conditions.

QA teams will deploy various testing types—functional, usability, performance, security, and compatibility testing—to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the app’s quality.

How to Create a Mobile App Testing Strategy

A comprehensive mobile testing strategy is a crucial need for mobile app developers. It ensures that applications are reliable, convenient to navigate, and capable of meeting users’ expectations. Here are some appropriate steps to consider with a mobile testing strategy:

1. Define Testing Objectives

Once you’ve established your app’s purpose, features, and target audience, you can determine which functionalities to test—compatibility with different devices, operating systems and networks, performance, security, and usability. You can then prioritize and align your objectives with key performance indicators (KPIs).

2. Identify Testing Tools and Environments

Selecting the appropriate testing tools can be crucial for assessing your mobile app. Automated testing tools are popular, especially when paired with simulated environments. This can streamline testing while accounting for a range of variables, reducing the chances of errors. Depending on your preferences, the testing environment for automation can be simulated or emulated.

3. Create a Testing Plan

A testing plan that outlines your approach allows your team to follow a comprehensive plan to align with your testing objectives. Your plan should include the testing approach, tools, environments, test cases, resource allocation, schedules, milestones, and test criteria. A well-thought-out testing plan will cover all possible scenarios that may arise.

4. Conduct Testing in Iterations

Conducting mobile app testing in iterations rather than a singular effort allows your team to digest results for each stage of development. It’s easier to spot bugs and errors and respond to changing requirements, which can accelerate time-to-market. Testing in iterations also allows you to change certain aspects of the app that don’t seem to translate well to multiplatform use. For example, heavy animations will be laggy on older devices. 

5. Analyze and Report Test Results

A testing strategy’s main focus is the test results. Based on the feedback, you can begin generating comprehensive reports based on the metrics and KPIs identified in your testing plan, highlighting issues or bugs found during testing. Remember to address and communicate the issues in a way that encourages further development while meeting the correct quality standards.

6. Continuously Improve the Testing Strategy

The mobile experience will continue evolving, so you must update your testing strategy. Remember to incorporate user feedback, update testing tools, and regularly refine the testing process while fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

graphic of tools for mobile testing

What tools are Used for mobile application testing?

Selecting the right mobile testing solution from the wide selection of tools available is extremely important for creating an efficient, comprehensive, and cost-effective testing process and delivering a bug-free mobile application.

Mobile app automation testing tools create and execute tests to reduce repetitive and time-consuming tasks. However, some tools provided can support manual testing of mobile applications, such as real device access, test case management, bug reporting, and integration with project management tools.

Accessibility Testing Tools

Testing tools that help ensure apps are usable by individuals with disabilities and meet accessibility standards are called accessibility testing tools.

Performance Testing Tools

App performance, including load times, responsiveness, and stability, are measured with performance testing tools. 

User Interface (UI) Testing Tools

A seamless UI results in a better user experience for mobile device users. UI testing tools can evaluate the user interface.

Cross-platform Testing Tools

To ensure consistency and functionality across all intended platforms, you’ll want a tool that allows testing across multiple platforms and multiple devices.

What Are Best Practices for Mobile Application Testing?

The fragmented nature of the mobile ecosystem—varying devices and platforms, diverse user interactions, connectivity and network conditions, privacy and security concerns, and continuous updates and releases—mobile app testing can get complicated. 

You’ll want to build a QA team that has expertise and invest in a mobile app testing tool that will speed up repetitive tests and improve efficiency, while maintaining a balance with manual testing. By following best practices for mobile app testing, mobile app development teams can deliver high-quality, secure, and user-friendly mobile applications that meet the evolving needs of end users.

Automated and Manual Testing

Combine automated testing tools with manual testing to achieve a balance between efficiency and thoroughness in testing processes. Mobile app automation testing will increase efficiency and productivity, but manual testing is crucial for providing unique insights, flexibility, and a human-centric approach that cannot be fully replicated by a mobile test automation framework.

Test Early and Often

Implement a practice of testing early and frequently throughout the development process to catch bugs and enhance overall functionality, resolving all bugs and crashes.

Prioritize Test Cases

Prioritize test cases based on factors such as risk, functionality, and user impact. Focus on critical functionalities and high-traffic user workflows.

Simulators and Emulators

Mobile testing has an interesting point of contention regarding testing environments. There are simulators and emulators

A simulator is software-based and designed to mimic a mobile device’s functionality. This makes it easy to set up, implement, and begin testing. Sims offer fast mobile device testing cycles and quick feedback. They also don’t require physical hardware in your office, so they are less expensive to set up.

One drawback with Sims is that they fail to accurately represent a device’s hardware, making it likely that the test results aren’t an exact match for real-world performance.

Conversely, emulators are designed as a hardware-based environment meant to replicate a smartphone. An emulator does this by imitating the hardware specifications and software.

Unfortunately, emulators are limited by the long and arduous setup process. Getting everything for a proper emulation rig is costly and less flexible.

Comparing the two directly, you’ll need to inspect what matters most to your organization. The emulator is a safer bet if you’d like to experience a more direct correlation between mobile app testing and real-world performance. However, ensuring that your mobile app works on a broader range of specs and configurations won’t be as easy to confirm with emulation. 

If your testing structure is ambitious enough, it’s possible to eliminate fears using real device testing

Automate Testing Processes 

Use automation tools for repetitive tasks to increase productivity, reduce time-to-market, and enhance overall return on investment in testing efforts.

Create a Mobile Testing Powerhouse with Kobiton

With various device operating systems and specs to cover, a large browser matrix, and accounting for the volatility of user requirements, setting up a cohesive testing strategy can feel like a minefield. However, with Kobiton, you can quickly get into the mix of things.

Comprehensive Mobile Testing Platform

Kobiton provides a complete suite of tools and capabilities for manual and automated mobile app testing across iOS and Android platforms and supports a wide range of testing frameworks, including Appium, XCUITest, and Espresso, enabling comprehensive test coverage.

Real Device Testing

Kobiton offers access to a broad range of real mobile devices, allowing teams to test their apps in real-world conditions and identify device-specific issues to ensure a more accurate and reliable testing experience compared to emulator-based testing.

Accelerated Testing and Delivery

Kobiton’s platform delivers over 2x faster test execution speeds compared to traditional Appium frameworks, reducing test failure rates by up to 80%, enabling teams to accelerate their testing processes and deliver high-quality mobile apps to the market more quickly.

Improved Test Automation

Kobiton provides advanced features like Appium script generation, self-healing capabilities, and no-code testing, which help teams achieve higher levels of test automation with less manual effort.

Seamless Integration and Collaboration

Kobiton integrates with popular tools like Jira, allowing teams to streamline their bug tracking and resolution processes, enabling collaborative testing efforts, with features like session sharing and remote device access.

Scalability and Flexibility

Kobiton offers flexible deployment options, including cloud-based access, on-premises device labs, and hybrid solutions, allowing teams to scale their testing infrastructure as needed and support mobile testing at any level of maturity, from manual to highly automated.

Kobiton’s comprehensive mobile testing platform, real device testing capabilities, accelerated testing speeds, advanced mobile test automation frameworks and features, and seamless integrations make it a compelling choice for organizations looking to improve the quality and delivery of their mobile applications.

With the proper techniques and Kobiton’s help, you can create an unbeatable testing powerhouse to help you launch apps confidently. If done correctly and with enough attention to detail, your app will be ready to take commercial success by storm.

Curious about setting up your mobile app testing strategy?

Join us at MTES 2024 to learn more and connect with like-minded professionals passionate about mobile testing excellence.


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