Testing a mobile application – 16 steps you should not miss
Mobile applications these days have become imperative for businesses. But mobile applications are not just another version of desktop applications. Mobile applications are as much different from desktop applications as mobile devices are different from desktop machines. Mobile applications, therefore, need to be built and tested with this difference in consideration.
Following are a few things to consider when testing a mobile application:
1. Test on different screen sizes: Mobile devices are available in different screen sizes. A mobile application should be capable to adapt its layout as per the device screen size.
An application screen that needs to be scrolled to view contents or uses only part of the device screen to display small-sized content doesn’t provide a good user experience. So, it’s essential that when you are testing a mobile application, you make sure to test it on different screen sizes.
2. Test on different device configurations: There are so many options available in the mobile market, from low-cost to high-cost, that it becomes a real challenge to support your mobile application on every device. Practically, not every kind of mobile application can be supported on every available device.
It is good to identify a minimum set of configurations required to run the application on a mobile device. You can then make the application available only for those devices which have configurations similar to this set or better than this.
It is important to ensure that the application provides decent user experience on a mobile device where it is claimed to be supported.
3. Test for performance: Mobile devices have limited processing power and memory as compared to desktop machines. Mobile applications need to be optimised to have a good performance with this limited processing power and memory.
Nobody likes a sluggish mobile application where app response time is unrealistically delayed or app becomes unresponsive due to low memory or processing power.
It is good to know the average mobile device configuration for your targeted users and make sure that your application performs well on mobile devices of that configuration. This is ensured by testing your mobile application for performance. So, this is one step that can prove critical for the success of your application.
4. Testing on different OS Versions: OS updates are frequently available for mobile devices but not every device updates to the latest version at the same time.
Some devices are updated as soon as the update option is available, some are updated after some delay and some continue to function on existing OS versions unless the update is forced.
Apart from the publicly released versions, some OS versions are also available for users for trying out in beta mode. Mobile applications need to work seamlessly with devices of all OS versions.
If maintaining the application for all these OS versions is becoming too much of an overhead, then dropping support for few obsolete ones which don’t form a major share in your user base could be a good idea.
But making sure you know what different OS versions your application is going to support and then testing your application for them is an essential step while testing your mobile application and should not be missed.
5. Testing for upcoming OS Versions: New OS versions with major changes in the development kit, design or libraries are announced quite often. It is important to understand how these changes would impact your mobile application. To support the new OS version, would your mobile application also need some major changes? Would your mobile application still be performant and not become sluggish with the upcoming OS version?
All these considerations need to be made in advance and planned for timely action. If your mobile application is not compatible or performant with the new OS version, you are more likely to lose a user base that is tech-savvy. So, keeping up with all the upcoming OS version updates and making sure your app works despite the updates is a step you cannot afford to miss.
6. Testing in different network conditions: Unlike desktop machines, where a network connection is mostly stable or constant such as LAN or WiFi, mobile devices mostly have a varying network connection due to their portability.
They might sometimes be connected to strong WiFi and be dependent on cellular data connectivity at other times. Cellular data may itself have different options such as 5G, 4G, 3G, 2G depending on the location of the user. Some devices may also function in offline mode for a significant time.
It is good to know the available and average network connectivity options for targeted users of your mobile application to make sure that your mobile application can work on that kind of network connectivity.
A mobile application should be able to adapt itself as per the network condition available. Depending on the kind of mobile application this can sometimes prove to be tricky.
For example, a mobile application where users can play different types of media from the internet may want to switch to the strongest network connection available. However, if the user’s network is fluctuating a lot then too much switching between networks may detriment the overall user experience.
When dealing with different network conditions, it is important to identify the set of rules that would work right with your mobile application. This is a crucial step to make sure your users have a uniform user experience with your app, independent of the network they are connected to.
7. Testing for data security: Most mobile applications are designed to collect and store user data such as username, password, mobile number, address and credit card information.
When dealing with user data, it is important to ensure that user data remains secure in all stages of collection, storage and processing. This becomes a necessity for continuous user trust as well as compliance with government rules and regulations.
While testing a mobile application, you should always ensure that any sensitive user data (Personally Identifiable Information or PII) is not easily accessible in application logs or developer tools or across user accounts.
8. Testing for localisation: If targeted users of your mobile application span across different regions and are likely to use the mobile device in a regional language, localisation support in your mobile application becomes important.
Different languages have different rules. Also, some cultures are sensitive to the use of certain words in their languages which are otherwise considered common in other regions. Therefore, it’s crucial to get the localised app interface reviewed by regional language experts.
9. Testing for accessibility: Accessibility support in mobile applications is important for two reasons:
1. It helps you build up an inclusive user base.
2. Depending on the country of your target audience it could be a compliance requirement based on government rules and regulations.
When testing your mobile application for accessibility, you should first understand the need for accessibility support in the application. A seemingly small part of a mobile application that cannot be navigated through accessibility support may block a user with special needs from using the app.
Testing accessibility support for a mobile application requires a detailed eye and a lot of patience and is an important step for all-round testing for your application.
10. Setting up Analytics and making it useful: Getting feedback is crucial for every initiative. Integrating analytics in your mobile application is the easiest and precise way to gather user feedback – what is that your users are liking, what is it they are having difficulties with. It helps you ascertain how usable your mobile application is for your real users.
During testing, you should ensure that all features of the mobile application that you wish to be measured are properly integrated with analytics and required data from the user’s mobile devices would flow to your analytics servers.
Once this data is available, it is also important to review it and take corrective actions wherever needed. This data can also play a major role in defining the future roadmap of your mobile application.
11. Figure out if feature Flagging or staged rollout is for you – You can choose to release a new feature in your mobile application only to selected users through a feature flag or rolling out the application update in a staged/phased manner.
Once you are sure that the feature is working fine and users have a positive sentiment about it, you can choose to enable the feature for all users. This kind of staged rollout helps in controlling damage if anything goes wrong.
For example, you have released a new feature in your mobile application and users start reporting crashes or sluggishness in the mobile application after the release. If you have released the app update in a staged manner, you can stop it before it reaches more users. Also, if you have used the feature flag to enable the feature, you can disable it to make the mobile application work without the feature.
Such mechanisms help you buy time to fix what has gone wrong and also protect your brand image to an extent.
During testing a mobile application, you need to ensure that the feature becomes available to the user only when the corresponding feature flag is enabled. As long as the feature flag is disabled, users should not be able to view the feature in the mobile application in any form.
This can become an important step in deciding your mobile application testing strategy and can be a major contributor to its success.
12. Test for scenarios when the app is in the background: There could be numerous situations in which a mobile application might need to stay in background on a mobile device. Making and receiving calls, sending or receiving messages, switching to a different application on the device are few of them.
A mobile application should be able to preserve its state in the background and resume from where it was before being sent to the background. This should be verified during testing.
This is one step that is specific to mobile applications and your mobile application testing cannot be considered complete without it.
13. Make sure your application doesn’t Interfere With Other Device Features/Applications: A mobile application should not obstruct or interfere with other features or applications available on the mobile device.
For example, A mobile application shouldn’t block making or receiving calls, sending or receiving messages, network searching, alerts and notifications for other apps installed on the mobile device.
During testing, it should be ensured that the mobile application is operating in its own sandbox environment and is not interfering with other things.
14. Testing for different input methods: On mobile devices, users are more likely to use different input methods such as keypad, voice, finger touch and eye gestures or their combinations.
Mobile applications should support all available options or inform users what is not supported.
For example, on a mobile device, it is quite common to use keypad and finger touch. However, some users might also prefer to operate your application through voice commands or eye gaze. If your mobile application doesn’t support such gestures, it’s good to let the user know that it’s not supported.
During testing, you should make sure that your mobile application can be fully operated through supported input methods.
15. Testing for split mode: Split mode on mobile devices is quite popular where multiple apps share the device screen space at the same time. But it is not mandatory for every mobile application to support that. It’s a good thing to have.
If your mobile application supports split mode, it should provide a good user experience in that mode. If your mobile application doesn’t support split mode, users should get notified that split mode is not supported for your application. Same should be verified during testing.
16. Robustness: Mobile applications might sometimes run into issues when faced with edge scenarios such as the low battery, network loss, device hang, OS crash, slow device, device restart. With mobile devices, such scenarios occur slightly more frequently as compared to desktop machines.
During mobile application testing, it is important to ensure that mobile applications can recover from such situations and provide a graceful experience to the user.
The level of user-engagement provided by mobile apps is much higher than traditional methods. But a mobile application that fails to provide a good user experience is equally capable of upsetting the users resulting in a loss in user-base and business.
To ease your mobile app testing efforts and to reduce the amount of time that you might have to spend in order to test your mobile application on a number of devices and operating systems, it is advisable to use an automated testing tool for mobile applications.
Testsigma is a mobile application testing tool that lets you automate your test cases for both android and iOS from the same place. Also, it has really simplified the automation process of your mobile application.
Check the easy and simple mobile testing interface of Testsigma