Last updated July 29, 2016.
While mobility isn’t new, there’s still a certain novelty to it, especially when it comes to mobile application testing.
Sure, there are plenty of factors and challenges that are unique to mobile, but many of the same tried-and-true app testing principles used to test web and desktop apps apply to mobile app testing.
Let’s take a look at how mobile application testing is different vs. how it’s similar to web and desktop app testing – and why it matters.
Testing Mobile Applications vs. Traditional Web and Desktop Apps
Whether apps take the form of web/desktop or mobile, the goal is the same — it’s all about getting business value out of each app.
For many companies, mobilizing apps means improving employee productivity. From a tester’s perspective, apps – whether they run on mobile devices, a PC or in the cloud – exist to perform certain functions for consumers, employees or customers and must perform as intended every time, regardless of platform.
Testing ensures apps function as expected while meeting the end user’s expectations. To ensure a mobile app works as it should, testers must test the login screen and other functionality and follow the flow of data back to the back office systems – just as testers have done for web and desktop apps for decades.
What’s Really New and Different about Mobile Application Testing?
When developing and testing a standard PC application, testers don’t have to test it to make sure it runs as well on a Dell as an HP as a Lenovo.
The mature PC industry has standardized the hardware to an extent that there isn’t a concern. Similarly, there used to be dramatic differences across Internet browsers so testers had to code in a certain way and customize for different platforms.
With mobile, however, there is a much broader variety of mobile devices.
While there may be two dominant operating systems – iOS and Android™ –there are far more device types and form factors on which mobile apps must run. For testers, there isn’t an assurance that an app that runs as intended on an iPad® will run the same way on a Samsung Galaxy S7 or that an app running perfectly on iOS 8 will also run flawlessly on iOS 9.
The app must be tested in each instance.
Apple prides itself on being a highly standardized platform, but some differences do exist between generations of the hardware, whether iPad or iPhone®.
Android is a totally different story.
For starters, device manufacturers like Samsung put a different user interface layer on their phones than LG, for instance. There are also differences in the way the app renders.
So, testers have to perform mobile application testing on the top market-leading devices in a generic way to make sure the app runs correctly on all Android phones
Enterprise BYOD and Consumer Apps Require More Mobile Applications Testing
As companies embrace bring-your-own-device (“BYOD”) policies, the hardware base is made more fluid, adding an extra layer of complexity to mobile applications testing.
If an organization doesn’t have company-issued hardware because everyone brings their own phone or tablet into the office, then it means broader testing of market-leading devices and tablets is needed.
It’s far different today than it was in the past when BlackBerry was the dominant company-issued mobile device.
Time-to-Market is Faster Now
In the past, corporate IT had a hand in what versions of operating systems and what kinds of hardware were in the enterprise’s portfolio.
They could control when a new update or release to a web or desktop application would be delivered – which was typically every six to 12 months.
With mobility, however, IT no longer has control because it is the device manufacturers who apply a nearly continuous stream of bug fixes, patches, and minor releases. Each time an OS in the user base is upgraded or patched, proper functioning of enterprise apps is put at risk.
This risk compresses the mobility development lifecycle—new OS features can cause app bugs and users want apps to support the latest and greatest. The result is that every change to the OS, even if small, means apps must be re-tested.
What Does This Mean for App Testing?
Recognizing mobility’s challenges is the first step to successful mobile app testing.
The next step is deciding how to get started. Although testing mobile apps uses a very different technology base (devices and operating systems) than web and desktop, enterprises may not need a whole new skill set and labor force to get started. The right tools can leverage prior investments by enabling an automation toolset that already exists in the ecosystem to handle mobility.
One example is Mobile Labs Trust™, which is a software add-in to HP’s Unified Functional Testing (“UFT”) solution. Trust was designed and architected specifically for QTP/UFT, and seamlessly integrates so test teams can quickly apply their web or desktop testing skills to mobility.
For more insights on mobile application testing, read Enterprise Mobility: What Makes Mobile App Testing So Challenging and Addressing Mobile App Testing Challenges.
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