There’s no questioning the fact that mobile testing is now a critical component of software testing and quality assurance. In the past decade it’s gone from practically unheard of to absolutely essential. To get to grips with what all the fuss is about, it helps to first take a look at the ever-evolving consumer technology landscape.
The rise of mobile devices
To describe the rise of mobile devices as meteoric would be an understatement. This is a case where the numbers do really speak for themselves. Sales of smartphones surpassed that of PCs for the first time in 2011. Fast-forward just three years to 2014 and the number of mobile users is poised to overtake the number PC users for the first time in history.
Marketing studies on the behavior of mobile user show what most of us already know – we do a lot more than make phone calls on our smartphones. A November 2013 report by Millennial Media found that consumers use their mobile devices to make online purchases; view photos and maps; play games; research weather, sports, and travel information; and read books.
In other words – we use our mobile devices for pretty much everything. Data collected by mobile marketing company Research Fuel (1st graph) and web analysis firm Complete (2nd graph) further reveal that consumers are gaining a clear preference for surfing the internet through their mobile device.
Where mobile testing fits in
There are a variety of different ways to build a mobile application these days. Native, hybrid, and HTML5 development are amongst the most common techniques, but each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Mobile testing ensures that regardless of how an application is built, it performs and functions as intended. While mobile apps may seem small, testing them thoroughly means taking into account a variety of different factors:
There are several major mobile OSs on the market today: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. An application should be tested on each version of the OS it is intended for. In addition to functional testing, it is important to also test the installation procedures and security features of the app.
Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, and Blackberry own a majority of the mobile device market share. They offer a multitude of consumer products with different hardware and built-in proprietary software, both of which can have an impact on how an application functions and performs.
An application should ideally adapt to multiple screen sizes. Formatting and display issues are commonplace between portrait and landscape views. The size difference between smartphones, phablets, and tablets can also trigger problems, so testing an app against as many screen sizes and variations as possible is advisable.
Performance and load
End users expect their mobile apps to work flawlessly without any performance issues or latency. It’s important to test how our apps perform when it’s connected to the internet versus a cell network. Testing can also be used to uncover potential latency issues related to the number of concurrent users and user location.
It’s easy to forget that smartphones are actual phones. They receive calls, text messages, and a variety of other notifications known as interrupts. Testing to ensure that your app handle these interrupts as expected is vital.