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August 12, 2020

Automating Mobile App Testing: How to Get Started

Mobile Application Testing
Automation

If you’re ready to move from manual to automated testing, you’re in the right place.

Keep reading to learn how to get started automating mobile app testing. In this article, you will learn about...

  • The test cases you should prioritize when starting automation.
  • The frameworks that can help you automate your mobile tests.
  • The test execution environments and platforms ideal for mobile testing.

Why Should You Be Automating Mobile App Testing?

Automating mobile app testing is key to testing faster and extending test coverage, both on platforms and test scenarios. Mobile testing is notoriously complex, but much of it can be automated.

Automate Wisely: Where to Start

When done incorrectly, automation can be flaky and so time consuming it’s not worth the effort to set up. You want to avoid this to get as much ROI out of your automation as possible.

When executed strategically, there are many test automation benefits you’ll experience. These include faster feedback, faster bug discovery, improved risk mitigation, extended test coverage, and quicker time to release.

That being said, if you’re just getting started with automating mobile app testing, it is recommended you start small. Don’t try to automate everything at once. In fact, you won’t ever be automating all of your tests. 

So where do you start? When you are testing mobile applications, it is recommended that you start automating on three specific types of test cases: unit tests, integration tests, and functional tests. These tests should be your highest priority for automating, and they are a good starting point for someone just getting started.

Top Tests to Automate

1. Unit Testing

Unit testing is the fastest method of testing. These tests are highly reusable, and they are easier to debug, typically with a low cost to fix.

2. Integration Testing

Integration testing makes sure that everything works as expected on interfaces and modules. Automating these tests is helpful because it accelerates the testing time and provides feedback more quickly.

3. Functional Testing

Functional testing is another type of testing to be prioritized for automation. Automating functional UI tests can help you assess how your app functions across devices, OSes, and other variations. Given that the mobile landscape is so fragmented, this is very important.

Related Reading: Web & Mobile Test Coverage Index

Selecting an Automation Framework for Mobile Testing

Once you’ve decided on what tests to start automating, you need to select an automation framework.

For automating mobile app testing, you have plenty to pick from. Choose one that is reliable, aligns with your objectives, integrates with your toolchain and current processes, and complements the skillset of your team.

Here are a few test automation frameworks for your considerations.

Appium

Appium is an open source framework. It is the leading framework for mobile app testing. Appium has a very active community, which can be helpful for those just getting started with automation.

Espresso

Espresso is another open source framework for mobile testing. But this framework is Android-specific. Created by Google, it’s ideal for Android UI testing. 

XCUITest

XCUITest is an open source testing framework, but only for iOS apps. It’s developed and maintained by Apple and is ideal for iOS-specific UI test automation. XCUITest is a developer-friendly framework for unit and functional testing.

Quantum

Quantum is an open source framework spearheaded by Perfecto. It is a BDD testing framework. That means you don’t need to know code in order to write test scripts. You can create test flows in plain language with Quantum, which is great for teams without coding skills.

Executing Your Mobile App Tests

Once you’ve landed on a framework and you’re ready to execute your tests, you’ll have a few decisions to make.

The first pertains to the types of platforms you’ll run your tests on. Will you execute your tests on real devices or virtual devices, such as simulators and emulators? Or, will you use a mix of both?

Virtual Devices

Virtual devices for mobile app testing include:

  • iOS simulators
  • Android emulators

iOS simulators enable you to test the basic functionality and UI layout of iOS apps. Likewise, Android emulators allow you to test the basic app functionality and UI layout of Android apps. When it comes to emulation vs. simulation, emulators duplicate while simulators replicate the behaviors of a real device.

Testing on virtual devices is fast — faster than real device testing. That’s why teams like using them. However, there are some drawbacks to testing on virtual devices.

Virtual devices are limited in their testing capabilities when compared to real devices. You cannot test real device conditions on virtual devices, like battery consumption, so it is impossible to gauge app performance.

Because testing is limited on virtual devices, bugs can slip through if they are used exclusively in your testing strategy.

Real Devices

Testing on real devices uses real, physical devices and real hardware. This covers required environment-based testing, like specific carrier configuration or unique sensors, as well as gestures testing. 

It's important to use real devices in mobile testing to: 

  • Test the app from various locations and environments in the world.
  • Test varying conditions, OS versions, and competing apps.

Use Both Real & Virtual Devices

Real and virtual devices complement each other. That’s why it is a recommended best practice to use both types of platforms in your mobile app testing strategy. Tests should be spread between emulators/simulators and real devices, based on the build phase.

In general, virtual devices are best utilized in the early stages of development, and real devices are best used later in the cycle.

In the early sprint phases, when the features are only shaping up, it makes a lot of sense to run smoke tests, unit tests, and other fast validations against virtual devices from the developer environment.

Later in the build process, when the coverage requirements and the quality insights are greater, launching the full testing scope in parallel against real devices is the right way to go.

Related Reading: Mobile App Testing Strategy Combining Virtual and Real Devices

Testing Infrastructure

Your other consideration for test execution is whether to execute tests in the cloud or on the premises.

We recommend testing in a cloud-based environment for a number of reasons. In general, on-prem testing is more limiting. Cloud-based solutions offer teams more flexibility and other benefits.

  • It can be accessed from anywhere, which is ideal for globally-dispersed teams, or those working from home.
  • It is available 24/7.
  • Clouds are easier to scale than on-prem solutions.
  • It can help you extend test coverage for both devices and test scenarios.
  • It’s a faster way to access new releases.
  • Clouds are more secure than on-prem solutions.
  • And more.

Related Reading: Cloud Testing Is More Critical Than Ever

Start Automating Mobile App Testing With Perfecto

If you’re getting started automating mobile app testing, give it a try with Perfecto. In the cloud-based testing platform, you can automate tests at scale across both web and mobile. With end-to-end testing support, it’s a great way to get started with automation.

Start your free two-week trial today. In it, you can:

  • Scale testing across platforms.
  • Test on real mobile devices and browser VMs.
  • Automated advanced testing scenarios.
  • Test securely from anywhere in the world.
  • Find and fix bugs with advanced reporting.
  • Fully integrate with test automation frameworks.
  • And more.

See for yourself. Give it a try for free today.

Try Perfecto

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