Mythbusters: Mobile Testing Edition

  April 17, 2018

We have been doing a recent Mythbusters series at SmartBear to test and unravel key elements of popular topics for software teams. During this month’s webinar on Mastering the Art of Mobile Testing, we received a lot of comments over a spectrum of topics, but also confusion around certain areas. So, I decided to investigate some of these questions around talent, testing approaches and tools to highlight the common misconceptions in mobile testing today.

Myth #1: Software testers require the same knowledge to test mobile applications.

Mobile devices are small, which might tempt one to think that testing for small screens is simple and cheap. But testing mobile applications is no easier than testing any other type of software. In fact, mobile testing comes with its own unique challenges.

Each mobile platform has their own way of developing an UI on their platform, requiring teams to build and test applications in completely different ways and then adapt their mobile tests to specific device specifications.  For example, a mobile application has layout differences. An application will reposition its controls depending on the device orientation, screen size, and density between a smartphone and tablet. In addition, many advanced mobile testers are familiar with specific Android, iOS, or Windows frameworks; however, many QA teams – especially desktop testers – are more experienced in .NET.

Myth #2: Only popular mobile apps are a target for hackers.

Security is a top concern for many companies and privacy is a growing priority for end users. If you are asking a user to conduct a transaction whether it is financial or not, mobile security is essential in today’s digital age to prevent phishing attacks, data leaks and unwanted access.

Simple measures can help improve your application’s security on the back and front-end. On the back-end, proper security protocols and security scans should take place to ensure only the right people can access the application and on the front-end, mobile applications should only collect the most critical end-user information.

Myth #3: Device Labs are required to run tests across multiple devices in parallel.

Device labs are environments where physical devices such as smartphones and tablets are held or accessed remotely allow for a single test script to run across a variety of configurations. Device labs can alleviate some of the testing issues that QA teams face to test across disparate versions, resolutions, and configurations, but they are not always required.

If you are only testing your test scripts off of a small selection of devices or versions, then that can be accomplished with your test automation tool with a capability called device loop. Setting up a device loop will allow your test to automatically select the mobile device one after another and execute all of the child operations as well.  Depending on the tool you choose, you could also leverage multi-device playback capabilities to record a test on one platform and play it back across multiple other devices with the same operating system. 

Myth #4: Testing for Progressive Web Apps is the future

Consumers are increasingly experiencing mobile app fatigue – becoming more overwhelmed and tired of downloading applications and even more frustrated from mobile apps eating up their data storage. Due to this reason, Progressive Web Applications are growing in popularity. At their core, Progressive Web Applications are web applications, built on a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With browser support, Progressive Web Applications can behave like a native application. It loads instantly, works offline, and can be installed as an application on your phone.

Nevertheless, the type of mobile application you build highly depends on your businesses’ and customers’ needs and desires that you want to address. For example, native mobile applications are best for mobile games that are trying to build out their presence on the app store or handling secure transactions because they can leverage built-in security functionality within the platform. Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition feature on the Apple iPhone is a good example of a built-in security feature that only a native mobile application can leverage.

Fact: Mobile testing is growing.

Smartphones have become a critical part of our day-to-day lives, business operations, and global economy—regardless of demographics, industry, or geography. The sheer size and potential of the mobile application market is forcing companies across the globe to build and develop mobile software. As the demands for mobile development rise, so does the need for mobile testing.

Finding a test automation solution that makes testing mobile devices and multiple platforms easy for customers is challenging for many software teams. However, robust tools exist that address the key features every mobile testing solution should have for a successful end-to-end mobile strategy.