Automating App Testing to Build High-Quality Mobile Apps

Testing is indeed an integral part of the mobile app development process and there’s no business that would want to commit the blunder of launching their app without testing it first.

In this mobile-first world, where millions of apps are at users’ disposal, as many as 80-90% of apps are used only once. And going by what Inc. says, technical issues are the number 1 reason that causes users to uninstall apps.

Bugs reappear in the finally delivered app despite rigorous manual testing. Much as any development team wants their mobile app development to be flawless at the time of the launch, why is it that bugs creep up later as the app sees the real user environment?

Automating App Testing

The biggest reason – solely relying on manual testing. And it’s a common one for startups.

The solution – complementing manual testing with automated testing. Automation testing is your gateway to a more effective, flawless, and foolproof testing.

This Article takes you through five important aspects related to mobile app automated testing for that matter the most for test engineers, developers, as well as businesses – what manual encompasses testing means; the challenges that manual testing is likely to face; what automated testing encompasses; how it complements manual testing; and best practices for test automation.

Automating App Testing

As we start with learning how the two brands of testing differ from each other, we will also discover how automated testing can bring in the advantages of ease, efficiency, and stability, that are most needed in any testing process.

Manual Testing Vs. Automation Testing – Where the Basic Difference Lies

Automating App Testing

While manual testing is one important step that is never missed before a mobile app launch, not all businesses recognize that manual testing alone isn’t an adequate process to ensure a flawlessly functioning app.

While businesses may falter into believing that manual and automation are interchangeable, the truth is that they are complementary processes that aim at the same end – removing all possible bugs.

Therefore, in order to get the best out of both the brands of testing, you must be clear on the differences they present you with.

What is Manual Mobile App Testing?

Manual testing, as the name suggests, is the process wherein a mobile app is tested manually for bugs or defects, as you may simply call it. The test engineer needs to put themselves in the shoes of the end-user and check the features, uses, and functionalities of the app on various mobile devices and emulators.

This is done in a meticulous manner after having drafted the test cases for the app, on the basis of which, the app needs to be tested. The tester constantly flips through app screens to make sure that the input combinations elicit the expected behavior. These results and behaviors are observed and documented with each step of testing.

The scope of manual testing, however, stays limited because, well, a human can only do so much given the fact that each time the source code changes, the tester needs to repeat the entire process. Throughout the development cycle, this repetition takes place numerous times till perfect results are achieved.

That, nevertheless, is not the only challenge, which manual testing is bound to face.

Challenges Faced by Manual Mobile App Testing
  • It is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive as well – a few things any business would not want a testing process to be.
  • This method of testing is not scalable. The more complex the functions of the app are, the more complex testing becomes, thus increasing the time and cost of testing.
  • Variation in test performance is inevitable owing to the approach of the human resource handling the testing. The result – different results for same test cases.
  • Human capabilities, as manual testing depends on, does not permit to test the entire module manually apart from increasing the risk of human error.
  • Performance testing is not a possibility that manual testing offers.

Fortunately, and logically enough, automated testing provides to plug the loopholes that manual testing leaves.

What is Automation Testing?

Automating App Testing

Automated testing is the method of mobile app testing that makes use of specialized tools to conduct and control testing of an app, documents the results automatically, and compares them to expected results.

The striking difference from manual testing is that the entire lifecycle of testing is done automatically through tools without the intervention of the test engineer as the test runs. It complements the manual testing process by conducting the additional tests that the manual method is not capable of.

Since test automation is done with the help of automation tools, there are three major advantages that businesses see – much lesser time is spent on testing; you have more time at hand for maintaining test scripts, and the overall test coverage is increased remarkably.

Benefits of Automation Testing

Automating App Testing

  • Extremely well-suited for large projects wherein the app will need to be tested over and over for perfection, and wherein manual testing has already been done.
  • Saves time and money that needs to be invested in resources in case of manual testing.
  • Accuracy is remarkable.
  • Test coverage is increased immensely because the simultaneous deployment of multiple tools allows parallel testing of several scenarios at once.

Manual Testing and Automated Testing – Complements Rather than Rivals

For ideal testing, rather than manual testing vs. automated testing, it’s manual testing and automated testing – two methods to achieve the same end.

A test automation framework consists of a comprehensive amalgam of test guidelines, concepts, practices, coding standards, reporting mechanisms, hierarchies, test data, injections, etc. Using these, a test engineer can procure test results so the developer can make the required changes.

While automated testing allows you a quicker testing lifecycle and more accurate results, manual testing offers the advantage of the human observation that is able to have deeper insights into the test results that automation may have missed out.

Here is a list of benefits that automated testing offers when used in addition to manual testing:

  • With the framework laid down for the test engineer, it’s incredibly easy to use.
  • It can be carried out even with limited knowledge about programming.
  • A good testing tool offers robust testing for both iOS as well as Android.
  • It is scalable since parallel testing in various scenarios with multiple tools is possible at one and the same time.
  • Lends support in multiple languages.

Automation, however, is dependent on the choice of the appropriate automation tool. There is a score of automation testing tools available in the market for iOS and Android apps. Here are a few very popular ones:

Automating App Testing

  • Kobiton
  • Squish By FrogLogic
  • SeeTest
  • KMAX
  • Appium (iOS/Android Testing Tool)
  • Robotium
  • Selendroid
  • MonkeyRunner
  • Calabash
  • Frank
  • KIF
  • MonkeyTalk
  • Testdroid
  • Appium Studio

Best Practices for Mobile App Automation Testing

Choose the Right Tools

When we talk of manual testing, it can be quite a challenge for test engineers to test the code more often than not because well, the developer may not have written a “testable” code. Automation caters to exactly this problem. And you can solve it by choosing a tool that is easy to use. And that should be the top objective.

Not only should tests be easy to write, but also convenient to use by the development team. Ideally, even a developer should be able to run all tests whatsoever, through a simple interface and least effort.

Automating App Testing

A very important decision you will need to take is regarding the compatibility of the tool. There are those which offer native platform test automation, and then-then there are cross-platform wrappers.

While native tools have direct support from Apple (iOS) and Google (Android), they require a certain level of expertise. Wrapper frameworks, on the other hand, have layers of abstraction.

So, depending on your expertise level in each platform testing and coding, the best tool needs to be chosen.

Wrappers May Be not as Good as they Sound

The temptation of wrappers frameworks that run on iOS as well as Android platforms sounds good because of the convenience they seem to offer.

However, the differences in between iOS and Android user interfaces makes testing with wrapper frameworks unrealistic. While working with these frameworks also need developers and engineers to create, configure and maintain various moving parts as custom app builds. On the whole, it makes the process difficult.

Automating App Testing

Wrapper frameworks are also known to be quite slow to run and shaky as well. A common feature is that one needs to wait for the test code to enable the app to be at pace with the tools.

They have seen popular days, but it’s the native automation testing tools that offer stable and efficient frameworks now. They are robust and can be run easily on devices as well as emulators and offer greater flexibility.

Test Multiple Scenarios

It is important to consider on what devices your app will be used on because that creates context. The reality is that the app will be used on various sorts of mobile devices and platforms.

So arises the need for testing in multiple scenarios. Even geographical locations are important. A mobile device that your country doesn’t use could be popular in a country where the target audience is.

Automating App Testing

And not just geographical locations, but also demographics like age, profession, gender, etc., matter. Testing in multiple scenarios ensures that you are viewing all possible scenarios that your app could be used in.

Testing multiple scenarios and automate testing in them is as important as any other step in the testing lifecycle.

Empathy is the Key

Here is where the human factor is as important in test automation as in manual testing. Testing can be only as good as the resources who are using it. Developers, as well as test engineers, need to have empathy to be able to create expectations and test cases that resonate with the end user. They should be able to empathize with the user to know what users expect and the problems they might face while using the app.

Automating App Testing

While automation will produce accurate results for the test case, they still won’t hold true because the test cases lack empathy. It can usually be the case with developers who may not be able to think any differently from how they think about the app. Thus, the aspect of usability goes missing.

The better this sense of empathy is used, the better results you will procure out of automated testing.

Conclusion

Automating App Testing

While manual testing cannot be ruled out altogether, automation testing is essential not only to get accurate results but also to save costs and man-hours that are spent on manual testing alone.

The aim is to reduce the time and effort taken when only manual testing is the norm. The addition of test automation for mobile apps makes manual testing easier and shorter and complementary to test automation.

However, depending on the needs and resources of your business, your decision to adopt either of these should be well thought out.

If you wish to know more about mobile app automation testing or would like our experts to help you with it, please we’d be happy to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with our testing expert.

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