The most important stage of any mobile application development project is testing; I say this all the time. But what exactly does that mean? Making sure all the buttons work and the app doesn’t crash? Technically yes, but there is so much more to it than many would initially think. Additionally, mobile application testing is quite different from other software testing methods due to the unique nature of the hardware and operating systems on these devices. Let’s take a closer look into the core areas of testing for mobile applications.
Hardware Compatibility Testing
As with testing any software, testing mobile applications presents many unique challenges. This includes accounting for differing screen resolutions, varying support for features like multi-touch and accelerometers which can further complicate an application developer’s task of ensuring correct functionality on all target devices. At Amadeus Consulting, we have a library of various testing devices that create a representative sample of the spectrum of hardware differences on the market. This allows our team to thoroughly test each app and ensure they run at optimal performance on each device. (If you are interested in the topic of hardware testing for mobile, check out this blog I wrote about choosing the right devices and creating a comprehensive testing plan here.)
User Interface Testing
Mobile devices support a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions, creating a slightly differentuser experience from device to device. In addition to a combination of emulator testing and device testing as mentioned above, user testing is extremely important for thorough UI testing. End-users provide unparalleled insight into many aspects of the application. Are the buttons and workflows straightforward? Are the colors and styling pleasing to the eye or are they distracting? Are certain aspects of the menus confusing? User testing will reveal some fascinating answers to these questions and more.
Location and Network Service Testing
Using wireless network and location services are the essence of many successful mobile applications; however, such services are not always reliable or available to the application due to device-specific user preferences, device limitations, or service availability. To provide a seamless user experience, mobile application design requires all of these factors to be taken into account. As such, testing for mobile applications must also firmly verify the robust implementation of such designs. To substantiate an application’s appropriate behavior, independent of network or location service availability, develop a testing approach using emulation and in-office tests to mimic real-world conditions where data connections and GPS services may not always be available.
Sometimes emulation and in-house testing are not enough to simulate real world conditions that a device may encounter. In these situations a field testing plan is created – taking devices and debugging equipment into real-world situations that a device may encounter.
Operating System Version Testing
As mobile device hardware evolves, so do the operating systems these devices run on. Developers must be aware of updates to mobile operating systems in order to take appropriate steps to ensure forward-compatibility. Similarly, backwards compatibility must be verified to ensure proper functionality on older operating systems, back to the lowest supported version. The most comprehensive testing approach includes performing regression testing on supported operating system versions to confirm compatibility.
Performance Testing and Tuning
When appropriate to the user base or type of application, performance testing of back-end components should be performed to ensure that these back-end components will perform under load. This type of testing is specifically for applications that will handle a large load at some point in their life and that need to be able to handle high levels of stress.