Mobile Testing: A New Animal Needs New Strategy

Some may think the simplicity of a mobile application provides a less complex QA process but mobile introduces a whole new set of challenges that require new thinking in order to be successful. Many variables that need to be considered, but all can be resolved when you look at the project through the lens of what the application is, the importance of its operation, and what you’re willing to spend to ensure its success.

Beyond the traditional requirements, mobile testing demands that you consider the device, the platforms the application is designed to run on, and the actual usage that now includes a person walking around doing various activities in the real world, versus sitting at a computer. So what decisions need to be made to account for these variables, while moving forward according to an agile plan?

Emulator vs Manual Mobile Testing

Utilizing an emulator can minimize cost and maximize coverage of variables tested. But there is a risk involved in that you are not testing in the real world. Think emulator if you are early in the process, and you are using this as a step to move toward the finished product. Testing on emulators is faster and cheaper, and generally more useful when the code is still “soft” and the bugs found are easier to find and related to general functionality rather than specific configurations.

But there are still many, many scenarios where the framework of an emulator does not measure up. When you are talking about constantly evolving devices and new usages popping up every day, it takes a real person using the app in the real world to truly deliver a successful exploratory test.

Low vs High Risk App

The type of testing you chose will depend in large part on how the application will be used. A free app (think Angry Birds™) can afford to have a few failures in the real world. Many of these app developers lean on their friends and family to test new builds of their app, or even use crowd-sourcing to test this type of product with little-to-no risk.

However, a financial app, where a failure could literal mean a newsworthy event, must be right across every conceivable end-user usage. This level of risk will justify a much higher expenditure of skilled testers out in the field using scripted, automated, and exploratory methods.

When it comes to mobile testing, there is no shortage of options. Just be sure you’re considering the scope/risk equation when developing the right strategy for your unique application.

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