Secure a bullseye release with mobile app testing
With 6.6 billion smartphone users globally as of 2022 and over 100 operating systems (OS) in use, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your app runs flawlessly across all of your users’ devices and operating systems. An ever-increasing number of operating system versions and updates makes this equally more challenging and more necessary.
What is mobile app testing?
Mobile app testing is the process of inspecting your mobile app against various criteria to confirm that it is working as you expect it to across all devices in every situation. Tests are completed manually or are automated by a tool. They help to catch and sort out any issues before releasing your app for the first time or when publishing any updated versions thereafter.
Why mobile application testing is important
In order for your app to stay competitive in the current mobile-first market, it’s critical that you test your app thoroughly and regularly because:
- App users expect an app to be dependable, fast, and simple.
- Providing a quality customer experience is important for brand success.
- Spending marketing budget on user acquisition is inefficient if your app still has fundamental bugs that inhibit the functional experience a user counts on.
This is why it’s key to validate that your app is compatible with different devices and versions, and work out any and all potential problems before they reach the public. A user should experience a reliable, secure, and overall user-friendly app.
Types of alpha testing for mobile apps
Alpha testing is testing that is conducted within your company, and is your first line of defense for issues with an app. There are numerous types of mobile app testing that, when used together, will help you verify that everything is performing as you and a user would expect. Some mobile testing categories include:
Test that your app is compatible with various combinations of:
- Operating systems
- Software types
- Software versions
- Mobile devices - As of 2021 there were almost 15 billion mobile devices operating around the world and this number is expected to reach 16.8 billion by 2023!
In particular with software testing, it’s important to test whether your app is compatible with currently available software and any patch updates that may be released (known as forward testing) as well as older versions of operating systems for users who have yet to upgrade their software (known as backward testing).
Check whether each feature within user flows is working as intended such as:
- Install and launch
- In-app buttons
- Push notifications
Confirm that your app responds as intended to an unexpected interruption like:
- An incoming call or SMS
- Low battery
- Loss of network connectivity
- Device shutting down
A typical response to an unexpected interruption is for your app to pause its function during the interruption and then resume its task following the interruption. You may alternatively expect to see your app respond with a pre-specified action that you have coded to apply to a particular interruption.
Test that geographic location features are functioning properly, including:
- The ability to enable a different language or currency
- Specifications required due to local governance are displaying correctly
- Market-specific content is appearing
Interested in broadening your reach? Learn more about how to expand your app globally and localize for regional audiences.
See how fast your app loads across real devices and operating systems.
Hint, your app should load within about 2 seconds!
Memory leak testing
Check whether your app can regain memory lost from:
- Programming bugs
- Devices with different memory capabilities
Explore what your app’s user experience is like from the perspective of:
- Visual design
- Quick response time
Investigate how well your app performs under non-optimal conditions like:
- Low battery
- Low memory availability
- Data loss
Make sure your app can defend its users against information leaks or theft.
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Prove that when your app is being upgraded it can:
- Upgrade within a reasonable amount of time
- Stay compatible with older features
- Maintain existing user sessions
How mobile apps are tested
With some of the various types of testing in mind, let’s take a look at how these tests are actually performed. Mobile apps are tested manually or through automation. Different apps will naturally have different needs and as a result will choose to use a combination of these methods to accommodate their testing requirements. Regardless of the method chosen, testing should encompass a large number of browsers, devices, and software, and should provide real-time error detection.
How to perform mobile app testing
Manual mobile app testing is done by a human, typically a quality assurance (QA) analyst. Tests are done one at a time and replicate test cases that have specifically been developed by the QA to catch any bugs. Unsurprisingly, this type of testing involves a lot of QA resources to both develop the test cases and carry them out, so it can be a bit slow.
It’s best for testing more complex scenarios.
Automated mobile app testing is done by a tool and/or test scripts that validate expected outcomes for you. Mobile test automation still relies on coding and test maintenance from human resources, but it does cover a larger number of test variations in a shorter amount of time.
It’s best for repetitive, high-frequency testing.
Both manual and automated testing are accomplished using emulators and simulators, or an actual mobile device. While emulators and simulators are both virtual platforms that facilitate the mobile app testing process, there are some differences in their functions.
Emulators interpret app instructions without the need for a physical mobile device. You can use them to replicate a device and operating system of your choice. Testers are able to make changes to the code, file structures, and databases as the emulator tests respond to changes in real-time. This helps to narrow down exactly which changes are helping reach the necessary outcome.
Simulators imitate the real device’s hardware and are much faster than emulators, making them efficient for the development stage when you need to quickly prototype and test on a more frequent basis.
Mobile app testing can also be done directly on a real device, without having to use emulators or simulators. Although it’s undoubtedly expensive to buy a variety of devices, and continue to buy the latest releases, there are some issues that will only surface on an actual device. Using a physical device helps test functionality of aspects like force touch gestures, how GPS interacts with your app, and how much of the device’s central processing unit (CPU) your app uses.
Beta testing with customers
Beta testing is a form of testing that invites real users to test a beta unpublished version of your app. Once your app has passed internal tests, you can use beta testing to get direct feedback before releasing on the app stores. Apple is particularly helpful with this stage, providing their solution TestFlight for app developers to test with up to 10,000 users. Similarly, Google offers Google Play Console.
With the groundwork done in alpha and beta testing, you can publish your app with confidence that consumers will be engaging with the best possible version of your app and therefore your brand. As bugs pop up, keep a close eye on KPI impact with an MMP like Adjust to make swift, data-driven decisions as needed. Or, if you’re ready to take the next step and start scaling your app, check out our report Scaling your app to 1 million users: The ultimate guide.
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