Mobile app testing helps identify areas that don’t work well, so the functionality of the app as well as the user experience can be improved
A whopping 218 billion apps were downloaded in 2020. The competition is fierce, and if you want your app to come out on top, there’s no room for error.
Thousands of new apps are released every day, and with all of the different devices used and technical requirements, testing your mobile app before releasing it to the public is a make-or-break moment for your brand.
Mobile app testing helps ensure that your application provides the functionality and user experience that your audience needs and expects, to position your app for success.
In this article, we’ll explain all you need to know about mobile app testing, from the different types of apps to areas that should be tested, and best practices to help you deliver a quality app with a seamless user experience.
Table of Contents
What Is Mobile App Testing?
Mobile app testing is a process in which applications developed for mobile devices are tested for functionality, usability, performance, security and stability.
A recent study showed that 60% of users uninstall an app or abandon a website after using it just once due to problems with performance. This is why testing mobile applications is vital.
Mobile app testing helps identify areas that don’t work well, so they can be improved, to in turn improve the user experience and the app’s functionality.
Mobile application testing can be automated or manual. Automated testing uses software tools and scripts to perform simpler, more repetitive tests.
Manual testing, as the name suggests, is handled manually by a human.
In manual testing, tests are executed one by one individually, while in automated testing, more tests can be executed at the same time with greater efficiency.
Types Of Mobile Apps To Test
Thousands of apps are released every day but the number of app categories is far smaller.
The three basic types of mobile apps are:
1. Native Apps
Native apps are created for a specific operating system or platform, like Android or iOS for example, using a specific programming language.
Because of the technology used for app development, apps and platforms cannot be mixed and matched. For example, you can’t use an iOS app on an Android device (unless you develop a version of the app for other platforms).
However, given that native apps are developed for specific platforms, they tend to be faster, more intuitive and provide a more optimized user experience because they use a native device UI. Since native apps use a single code base, they also tend to have fewer bugs during the development stage.
Thanks to their singular focus, native apps tend to perform better and also have access to many device features such as Bluetooth and phonebook.
An example of a native app is WhatsApp, which has been developed for both Android and iOS devices.
2. Web Apps
Unlike native apps, web apps don’t need to be downloaded and installed and they aren’t sold in app stores. Instead, the interface of web apps adapts to the device they are being used on.
Since they are not customized to a particular platform or operating system, web apps can adapt to screens of different sizes without changing the design. Since downloading and installation are not required, web apps do not take up space in your mobile device’s memory.
Web applications can work perfectly on any device as long as the browser is compatible. However, web apps are dependent on the Internet connection and it is possible that they won’t work well offline, even if they have an offline mode. An example of a web app is Microsoft 365.
3. Hybrid Apps
Hybrid apps, developed using a mix of native APIs and web technology, look like native apps but they work through browsers. They’re essentially web apps, but with shared features of native apps. They also need to be installed on a device like native apps and they can function offline.
The biggest difference between native apps and hybrid apps is that hybrid apps are developed to function across all platforms.
Hybrid apps reduce development costs and time, as the code is written once, then deployed across platforms. They are also easier to maintain. An example of a hybrid app is Instagram.
Types Of Mobile Testing
Mobile app testing differs depending on which features or functionalities of an app you want to test. Types of mobile app testing include:
- Functional Testing
- Interruption Testing
- Localization Testing
- Performance Testing
- Usability Testing
- Security Testing
- Compatibility Testing
- Storage Testing
In functional testing, the goal is to verify that all app functions work properly. This type of testing focuses mostly on the app’s flow or the user’s flow within the app. This includes testing whether the app launches correctly, whether users can sign up with ease and whether menus, buttons and icons all work as intended.
Interruption testing checks how an app performs after facing an interruption. Examples of interruptions include:
- Low battery
- Incoming phone calls or text messages
- Network connection loss
- Plugging the device in or out while the application is running
The goal of this type of testing is to verify that an app handles all of these interruptions seamlessly and runs properly after an interruption.
Localization testing is used for apps with localized features that depend on a certain geographic location where the app is used. It tests whether the localized features are activated and working properly in given locations.
Localized features include enabling other languages, local currency, time zone and date.
Performance testing is conducted to check how an app performs under different conditions and whether it aligns with performance objectives.
Performance testing verifies device performance, network performance, responsiveness, recovery capabilities and server performance.
If an app is slow and performs poorly, there is nothing that will keep the user from uninstalling it. This is why performance testing is crucial for every app.
Usability testing helps determine whether an app is user-friendly. This is also known as experience testing, as it checks how easy it is to use an app, its intuitiveness and the entire user experience.
Usability testing is best conducted with actual users, where they are assigned specific tasks and then provide feedback on the app’s ease of use.
A 2020 study conducted by Deloitte showed that 40% of users deleted an app over privacy issues.
With data security concerns growing among users, security testing is becoming one of the top priorities when developing and testing an app.
Most mobile apps require at least some personal information. For example, payment apps such as PayPal require banking information, while travel apps like Uber require location information. Security testing helps ensure the app’s confidentiality. In other words, mobile app development companies use security testing to ensure users’ data is protected from leaks or cyberattacks.
Compatibility testing is a type of mobile app testing that determines whether an app is working properly on different devices, operating systems, networks and browsers.
Since different mobile devices have different requirements, hardware and operating systems, an app must meet all of these requirements to pass the test.
Storage testing analyzes an app’s storage-related functionalities. These functionalities include situations when an app needs to store relevant data in adequate directories, retrieve it from storage or delete it.
This type of testing also shows how an app behaves when there is insufficient disc space and helps discover storage limitations. If data storage is slow, that impacts response times and leads to long-running queries, which can impact the app’s availability.
Best Practices for Mobile App Testing
Mobile app testing has its challenges, because different devices and operating systems have different requirements. However, testing and deploying your app successfully is crucial to ensure your app runs smoothly and provides a seamless user experience.
When testing your mobile app, follow our best practices listed below:
Consider Real Environments
Test your mobile application for specific conditions that occur in real environments. These include interruptions like incoming calls or messages, unstable network connections, time zone differences and low battery warnings.
This will help you improve your app’s usability in different real-life situations.
Choose a Suitable Device for Testing
Choosing a suitable device for mobile app testing depends on several factors, such as the platforms you’re targeting or the screen size.
When choosing a target device for app testing, consider the following:
- Will your app be used on mobile devices or tablets?
- What devices does your target market use?
- Which operating systems will your app support?
- What browsers do your target audience use?
You have a choice of testing on real mobile devices or using virtual devices, depending on what you want to test. Virtual devices are software programs that simulate actual mobile devices. They can be emulators (simulating both hardware and software of a target device) or simulators (simulating only the software but not hardware).
While testing on virtual devices is useful, testing on real devices shows results in real-time, which is why this is the recommended route.
Use Automated Testing
While it is valuable, manual app testing is time-consuming and tricky when testing large sets of data. This is why you should consider automated testing for repetitive tasks and large data sets to save time.
Automated app testing also delivers more accurate results and delivers immediate feedback, which can help speed up development.
Automated testing enables you to run lengthy tests and run multiple tests at the same time, which increases efficiency and productivity.
Running mobile app testing as early as possible in the development process is important to ensure the quality of your app and also to reduce costs.
The earlier you discover issues in your app’s functionality, the earlier you can fix them. This is especially important for UI/UX testing, as it is the first impression users have of your app.
Remember that most users won’t think twice about uninstalling your app if the usability doesn’t meet their criteria, so it’s important to test these elements in detail.
Split App Testing Into Small Units
To make mobile app testing easier, split it into smaller units and test each unit separately. Unit testing focuses on how smaller units of an application behave in certain scenarios.
A big advantage of unit testing is precision.
For example, if you are testing a function of your app, the feedback will show you whether the problem is in that particular function and not something else. Testing in smaller units is also much faster, so it helps you identify and fix bugs sooner.
Take Security Testing Seriously
The majority of users are concerned about privacy issues, which is why you must thoroughly test your app for data security. One important aspect of security testing to focus on is ensuring that the app is actually using only the permissions it requires and nothing else.
Test Network Response
You want your app to work in areas with low internet speed or poor connectivity. To ensure this, test your app in different types of network connections to see how it performs.
Check Battery Consumption
Battery consumption is one of the aspects people consider when buying a mobile device and when using apps. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your mobile app is designed to consume as little battery as possible while being used.
Key Takeaways On Mobile App Testing
With thorough mobile app testing, you can identify potential issues and remove them before your mobile app enters the market. Testing both early on and throughout the development process can save you both time and money, and help ensure your app is a hit with your target market.
While there are only three basic types of mobile applications (native, web and hybrid), there are multiple types of mobile app testing, including:
- Functional testing
- Interruption testing
- Localization testing
- Performance testing
- Usability testing
- Security testing
- Compatibility testing
- Storage testing
Remember to start testing early, preferably side-by-side with developing your app, to split app testing into smaller units and use automated testing to speed up the process and increase accuracy.
Now you have all the information you need to start planning your mobile app testing procedures and launch an outstanding, functional, user-friendly app.