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Mobile Applications Testing – Not So Easy

by anonymous

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There's no doubt that mobile is here to stay. In the past, many developing countries skipped landlines and went straight to mobile, but now, many users with developed mobile infrastructures are skipping mobile feature phones and going straight to smartphones. All this is happening as network speeds pick up, yet carriers are still bogged down by overwhelming traffic forcing new plans that limit data usage. We used to have unlimited data but now most plans have data limit thresholds, so consider yourself lucky if you can be grandfathered in with an unlimited data plan. That probably won't last for long though. Furthermore the smartphone devices themselves continue to increase their own capabilities not only in processor, memory, and form factor (now larger and larger screens), but also in the operating systems which continue to add more features and functions that developers can access and utilize in their applications. Hence, we have a cascading effect where applications are also gaining complexity on top of more powerful platforms, not only on the device side but also the server side. This is all good news for end users that are on the go, and can do more and more on the road without having to go to the office. The "work at home" or telecommuting model has now become the "work on the road" model where you can work just about anywhere as long as you have your mobile phone.


But as you can imagine, all of these capabilities don't come without a price. As a mobile applications testing services provider, we work with clients of all sizes at the enterprise level as well as with small start-ups, on a daily basis. Some of the main issues that we face and tackle in working with our clients include:


  • Limited display areas (although increasing) and miniature keyboards can lead to a myriad of user interface issues so designing UX into the application from the beginning and tracking users' behavior in order to improve the application is critical. Mobile UIs can have unique layouts that are different from what a user expects or different from the OS underlying platform visual capabilities resulting in applications that work as "designed", but possibly do not meet user expectations and hence are viewed as poor quality applications.

  • Lower bandwidth of a mobile connection leading to delays that can impact not only the network performance but also the functionality of the mobile application (if native) or even the server side.

  • Short development cycles that put pressure on regression testing. This forces us to develop a coordinated strategy in determining what and then how to automate testing. Because mobile application testing automation software is not that mature, there are many vendors and open source providers that have niche solutions so you have to pick and choose according to your needs.

  • Mobile device proliferation and OS permutation due to vendors using the core Android OS and then adapting to their own needs and applications that they plan to implant in the bios. Since testing is not possible on every device, this leads to a functionality test matrix that needs additional dimensions including mobile Platforms/OS (Android, IOS, BREW, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry (RIM) and so on combined with different physical devices.

  • Device coverage can't be done with all physical devices so evaluating when and where to invest in devices needs to be balanced with the use of emulators and device rentals (real) or simulated via vendors such as Perfecto or Device Anywhere.

  • Different mobile carriers and manufacturers may preinstall some features or programs in the device with slight differences that your application may interact with causing another variable.


This is just the short list. Tackling these issues requires a well planned out strategy that not only takes into account mobile applications testing itself, but how it integrates with development, development methodologies and your available resources. How do you get started in assuring the quality of your mobile application in this fragmented market given a limited amount of resources?


For more information about mobile applications testingplease visit our website

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