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Hybrid Mobile Apps: How To Develop a Powerful Test Strategy

Test Strategy for Mobile ApplicationLast updated September 28, 2016

Testing mobile applications is a popular topic these days.

If you’re just getting started, you might want to begin by developing a test strategy for mobile applications.

Since there are several different kinds of apps – native, mobile Web and hybrid – you’ll want to make sure you build a strategy that takes into account the differences in these app types.

Before we jump into building your test strategy, let’s start be breaking down the differences between native, mobile Web and hybrid apps.

Wired magazine defines a native app as “an app that is downloaded and installed on the mobile device; a mobile Web app is one that is an HTML5, JavaScript, CSS app running in a mobile browser; and a hybrid app takes an HTML mobile app and inserts it inside a native wrapper.

So while the inside of this app is made with HTML, JavaScript and CSS, the outside is a native shell. This kind of app is also downloaded and installed on a device.”

Now that we’ve got that all straightened out, what impact do these differences have on your testing strategy? Well, not a lot as long as you plan for the most challenging type of app you’ll test: the hybrid app.

Hybrid apps pose the most challenge for testers because they’re combo apps – they use both native and Web objects to provide a seamless user experience. That just means when testing hybrid apps, testers need to address characteristics of both native and mobile Web apps collectively.

Once you’ve got a plan in place for hybrid apps, you can apply it to native and mobile Web apps as well.

The Many Benefits of Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps are growing in popularity partly because they are time- and cost-effective. Enterprises and SMBs planning to develop apps can take advantage of existing infrastructure built upon Web technologies as opposed to developing an app from the ground up.

Another reason hybrid apps are gaining popularity is that they help enterprises scale their app strategy. HTML5 and JavaScript are Web standards so they can run across several different platforms.

This means developers can utilize the same code to function across different devices and platforms, minimizing the level of effort required for the app to run on multiple mobile platforms. Enterprises can further scale their app strategy by expanding the breadth of applications.

Using HTML5 and JavaScript means applications can be developed for employees, partners, and customers in a fraction of the time needed to create these apps natively. When you think about how aggressive many enterprises are getting with app rollouts, you see why hybrid apps are an attractive option.

Hybrid applications allow developers to access native device functions, such as the camera, through the native Web container.

Traditional mobile Web sites and applications do not have this access through the built-in device browsers. Using the native Web container, Web developers can create much more feature-rich mobile applications. Hybrid apps also allow the Web content to run without a connection to the server.

These apps are released just like native applications – through app stores.

On the downside, there are some limitations as to what developers can do with Web technologies. In some cases, there can be reduced app functionality as well as performance issues with a hybrid development approach.

Creating a Comprehensive Test Strategy for Mobile Applications

So, what does this mean for your test strategy?

It means you have to plan to test mobile Web objects AND native objects all wrapped up in a single hybrid app.

It comes down to this: you need to be able to easily differentiate between mobile objects and native objects so you can test accordingly. The ability to interact with all objects appropriately based on object type is important.

For example, you need to know that interacting with an HTML 5 object will be a little bit different than interacting with a corresponding native object. You just need to anticipate these differences and create tests accordingly.

Your test strategies for mobile applications should also include information verification for all of the app types noted above. Since most apps pull in information from a Website, its important that when you test, you ensure the Website is providing the right information to the app.

In addition, you need to be aware of other factors that Web objects present to an application.  For example, are there security holes that allow unwanted access to the device? Are there online and offline differences that hybrid apps allow?

If there is no outside access, does the application behave differently?  And finally, do the hybrid Web objects have performance problems? All of these questions need to be considered.

At the end of the day, a solid mobile application testing strategy is the first step no matter what kind of app you’ll test.  The right strategy can mean the difference between highly functioning, reliable apps and an app with poor performance and bad reviews.

Want to learn more? Check out our recent posts!

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Steve Orlando

Steve Orlando is a seasoned development and quality assurance professional with experience testing and developing mobile, Web, mainframe, CRM and desktop applications. In his role as director of product development for Mobile Labs, Steve drives the design and implementation of the company’s private mobile device cloud, deviceConnect™ as well as its automated mobile app testing solution, Mobile Labs Trust™. Steve also leads the team of developers focused on Mobile Labs' solutions. Prior to Mobile Labs, Steve was a solutions architect and development manager for Pyramid Consulting where he designed a solution accelerator for HP QTP to extend automated testing to a mobile device and served as the subject matter expert for automated testing. Steve’s experience also includes various IT, QA, development and programming roles for companies including Verizon Wireless, Alltel Wireless, Matria Healthcare and the University of Georgia.

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