The Complete Guide to Testing Mobile Applications
The mobile market continues to grow in prominence. And it also grows more fragmented with new devices, OSes, and generations to test. Your mobile apps have to be ready to perform across all these variations. Here, you’ll learn the steps to testing mobile applications for flawless digital experiences.
10 Steps to Testing Mobile Applications
Here are the steps to testing mobile applications.
- Determine scope of testing/test coverage.
- Determine the types of devices you want to test on.
- Decide what types of tests to automate.
- Write your test script with a mobile automation framework or BDD.
- Apply real user conditions.
- Execute tests in the cloud.
- Analyze results.
- Fix defects.
Keep reading to learn how to execute each of these steps.
1. Determine Scope of Testing/Test Coverage
Before you begin testing, you need to determine the scope of what you’ll cover and your test coverage across mobile devices and OSes. High levels of successful automation don’t happen overnight. Therefore, it’s recommended that you start small. As you master these tests, increase automation to scale to your needs.
As for test coverage, there are many aspects for you to consider. Test coverage was once limited to what devices to test — but strategic test coverage goes beyond that. It’s a broader list of considerations including the right mix of devices and OS versions to cover all the required functionalities of your app.
Optimal testing coverage of your mobile apps should include:
- Mobile device varieties.
- Types of operating systems.
- Multiple testing types.
- Efficient and varied test timing and duration.
- Attention to the overall execution window.
To be strategic about your test coverage, you’ll need to prioritize the top device/OS combinations. These should align with your target audience in your geographical location. You can learn more about the top devices and OSes currently used in your country in our biannual Test Coverage Index report, where we break down this data for countries all over the world.
Related Reading: Mobile & Web Test Coverage Index
2. Determine What Types of Devices to Test On
Another determination in testing mobile applications is whether you will utilize real devices or simulators and emulators — or a combination of both.
When it comes to a simulator vs. emulator, both are great for speeding up your testing. They’re both faster than testing on real devices. Not only are these virtual platforms fast, but they also enable teams to practice shift left testing to test mobile apps earlier in the cycle. Virtual devices are preferred for certain types of testing in the early stages of development. However, when used alone, teams run the risk of escaped defects, as many defects can only be caught on real devices.
Simulators and emulators should not replace real device testing. They simply cannot catch all the bugs that a real device can. For that reason, we recommend testing mobile apps on a combination of both real and virtual devices. Use virtual platforms for testing early in the cycle on unit tests and real devices later on for end-to-end UI tests.
Related Reading: Mobile App Testing Strategy Combining Virtual and Real Devices
3. Decide What Types of Tests to Automate
You will never automate all of your tests. Instead, strategize which tests you automate to get the most value from them. So, how many of your test cases will you automate? Starting small and successfully automating a number of them is a good way to get you up and running with test automation. Here are the test cases you should start automating first:
- Unit Tests — These highly reusable tests are ideal candidates for automation. Because unit testing is the fastest method, it should be first on your list to automate.
- Integration tests — These tests ensure that everything is working as it should. By automating these tests, you can get feedback quickly.
- Functional Tests — These tests are also very useful to automate. Automating functional UI testing helps you identify flaky tests up front.
As a general rule of thumb, a test case should be automated if...
- The task is going to be repeated.
- It’s going to save time.
- The test is subject to human error.
- The test has significant downtime between steps.
By following these best practices, you can get more ROI out of your mobile test automation efforts and work toward higher levels of successful, unattended automation.
Related Reading: How to Decide Which Types of Test Cases to Automate
4. Write Your Test Script
The next step is to write your test script. You can use a BDD framework or an automation framework. BDD frameworks allow you to automate tests without needing to code. Because the tests are created in plain language, more members of the team can participate in creating tests for business flows. We recommend using the Quantum framework.
There are also a number of open source automation frameworks that can help you automate your mobile app testing. Here are the most popular options.
Appium is a cross-platform mobile test automation framework for both Android and iOS apps.
Related Reading: Appium Tutorial: Guide to Mobile Testing in Appium
Espresso is an automation framework for Android apps.
Related Reading: 4 Benefits of Using the Espresso Android Test Automation Tool
XCUITest is a mobile test automation framework for iOS.
Related Reading: XCUITest vs. Appium vs. Espresso
5. Apply Real User Conditions
Your mobile apps are not used in a vacuum — they’re used in real life where oftentimes conditions are less than ideal. To provide a better experience for your users, you need to test like them. Applying real user conditions to your tests can make them a more accurate reflection of the end user experience. They also enable you to provide better experiences for users in all environments.
The following need to be tested on your mobile apps prior to release:
- Poor network coverage
- Competing apps
- Peak usage
- Interacting with sensors
- Resource conflicts
- Screen rotation
- Call/text interruptions
- And more.
Related Reading: User Simulation Testing for Mobile Apps
6. Execute Tests in the Cloud
The next step is to execute your tests — preferably in the cloud. Executing your tests in a cloud environment has some real advantages over on-prem solutions.
Cloud testing utilizes cloud infrastructure so that devices can be tested on remotely. A testing cloud enables teams from all over the world to access the devices they need and the servers that manage the devices, as well as their streaming capabilities, functionality, and the network architecture needed for secure mobile testing.
Cloud-based testing is easier to scale than on-prem testing, which is important as you grow. A cloud’s capacity is virtually unlimited. And thanks to self-healing technology, clouds are less flaky than on-prem solutions. Their security is also superior to on-prem testing solutions, and they can provide faster feedback on your tests.
Related Reading: 8 Benefits of Cloud Test Automation
7. Analyze Results
After your tests have run, it’s time to analyze the results to see which have passed and which have failed. It’s considered a best practice to prioritize fixing the most impactful problems first. You may notice that a certain number of tests feature a failure commonality, and these are important to analyze as well.
At Perfecto, we analyzed test results to find the most common culprits to failed tests:
- Scripting and framework issues account for 40% of test failures.
- Backend issues account for 30% of test failures.
- Lab issues account for 15% of test failures.
- Orchestration issues account for 15% of test failures.
You can try to analyze failed tests yourself — or you can utilize a test reporting solution. AI & ML are particularly useful for test failure analysis. Smart technology can identify failure reasons, find patterns in datasets, and suggest step-by-step resolutions to take.
Having a test reporting solution as you scale your testing is critical to your success. As you automate more tests, you will soon be swallowed up by the extensive amount of test data, which is time-consuming to sift through. Quicker analysis of test data can really speed up your testing process.
Related Reading: Why Test Failure Analysis Is Key to Faster Delivery
8. Fix Defects
After you have identified the defects in your app, it’s time to fix them. Perfecto offers a built-in tool called DevTunnel, which allows developers to connect from their IDE/workstation to devices in the cloud. From there they can go about debugging the apps without having to set up the environment to recreate the defect.
This can save developers hours or even days in setting up the environment necessary to solve the problem. And when they spend less time debugging, they can spend more time on creating innovative new features.
Related Reading: Debugging Mobile Apps With Perfecto's Remote Device Access
After you fix the defects you found, it’s time to run your test again. Repeat until your app tests successfully.
10. Release Your App
Congrats! Your release is out in the world, free of defects and ready for users on all devices.
Now it’s time to sit back and let the five-star app ratings come in.
Try Testing Mobile Applications With Perfecto
No one knows app testing like Perfecto — the world’s only end-to-end continuous testing platform. With Perfecto, you can test your mobile and web apps in the cloud on real and virtual devices from anywhere in the world.
See for yourself why half the Fortune 500 trusts their app to Perfecto. Start your free, two-week trial today.
In your free trial, you can:
- Scale mobile and web app testing across platforms.
- Test securely from anywhere in the world.
- Automated advanced scenarios (image injection, biometrics, audio validation, etc.).
- Find and fix bugs faster through advanced reporting.
- Integrate test automation into your CI/CD stack.
Give it a try for free today.