Today, there are many smartphone users in the world, just like the popularity of mobile applications. To be competent, mobile apps must be unique and provide the best user experience to increase the user base. As users become more informed and intelligent, the applications created should keep pace. To be flawless, the mobile app has to go through a rigorous testing process and during this process the testing team faces many challenges described here.
Different operating systems and their versions
There are different types of operating systems available in the market, such as iOS, Android, Windows, etc. In addition, these operating systems also have different versions. So it becomes difficult to test so many versions of the mobile application in a short period of time. An application that works well in one type of operating system may not perform well in another. It is very important to test the app with all supported platforms and their versions because we don’t know where the user will install the app. According to research, iOS users upgrade quickly compared to Android, but in Android, device fragmentation is higher. Which means developers will need to support older versions and APIs while testers will also need to adjust their testing strategy accordingly.
Device variations: depending on screen size
Android comes with a set of features, variations in pixel densities and pixel ratios that vary with each screen size. Even in the case of Apple, the new screen size was introduced with the launch of the iPhone 12. Now it’s not just about having a perfect screen design, it’s more about to design an adaptive screen design. With such a variety of screen sizes being rolled out in the market more and more often, the role of the tester becomes serious as he or she has to check if all the features work well on different screens with different pixel resolutions and aspect ratios. .
Based on the number of devices
The image below shows the number of devices on the market by different brands. The number of device manufacturers has increased significantly. According to Statista, nearly 6.37 billion smartphone users use various brands of devices running different operating systems (OS). The rate at which this data is increasing is a bit alarming for testers as testers have to check app performance on different devices, they would likely need a device library to do the same. The challenge remains in the context of features like complex user interactions on the touchscreen and gestures as well. Having a device library is definitely an expensive affair if you were to set up a lab for testing various devices. And with the constant influx of new devices, maintaining, updating, and upgrading devices is surely going to be a tedious task.
The QA team also faces challenges when it comes to testing devices connected to different networks. Typically, 2G, 3G and 4G mobile network spectra are available. These provide different data transfer and transmission speeds. These varying network speeds by various vendors still remain a challenge for testers today. In many cases, testers need to verify that the application is performing well at different network speeds, quality of connectivity, and monitoring the application’s bandwidth usage. This remains a challenge as it is a key performance metric based on different network providers and connectivity access in different geographies.
Frequent versions of the operating system
Mobile operating systems keep changing. Android and iOS both have over 10 versions of their operating systems to date. They keep improving and updating their versions for better performance and better user experience. This frequent version of the operating system is a test challenge because testers must validate the full application with each new version of the operating system. It is very important to test the application with the latest versions of the operating system, otherwise the performance of the application would be a major issue and consequently result in loss of users of the application.
Another major challenge of mobile test is what we call scripting, the method of defining a test. Script execution can be done manually or by automation. You can write the scripts in a document, which is then used by a test engineer who manually interacts with the test environment to determine the result, otherwise you can run automated scripts which in turn stimulate interaction with the test environment. device and app, and record the results.
Automated scripts have to be kept away from the device to be really useful, as there are many different devices with different interface options. A script that follows strict keystrokes on an Apple iPhone would not have a chance to work on a Samsung device, as the user interface is different in the two cases. Fortunately, most real device automated test software provides high-level scripts that work on the text, image, or object layer. When using automated scripts, the cost of configuring the script will typically be higher than the cost of just running a test manually. But if it is a test script that you run periodically, every time you run the script afterwards, you save a lot of time and effort spent writing the script. And you will end up recouping the cost of running the script multiple times.
So, to conclude, to create a better user experience, an application tester has to work hard to overcome the testing challenges. By adopting analytical skills and methods, testers can really cope with these situations. Eg. Test only those applications and operating systems that are primarily used by their user segment, adopting a solid testing strategy to make situational decisions about when to choose automation and manual testing, among others. Strategically, these challenges can be overcome and treated with finesse.
The Android world is not easy. The variety of different aspect ratios and pixel densities can be overwhelming. With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 which has a screen size of 7.6 inches, Apple is also bringing new screen sizes to the iOS world. Although iOS developers are used to pixel perfect screen design, now they need to change their mindset to embrace responsive screen design. For testing, this means that we have to verify on various devices that all the necessary screen elements are accessible with different screen sizes and aspect ratios. There are many phones with a screen size of 5 inches and above that are still popular in 2021.
Traditional testing tools like selenium and QTP weren’t designed to be cross-platform. Automation tools for web apps and mobile apps are different. Operating systems, especially Android, add complexity with API-level fragmentation. The most common automation test tools for mobile application automation testing are Appium and Calebash. Each tool has its own advantages and disadvantages and you should choose depending on how your application works.
One of the most common issues is poor hosting controls. The server where your application is hosted must have security measures to prevent unauthorized users. Weak encryptions can lead to data theft which will impact the user trust factor. Most mobile apps require user data like email id, password, age, location, etc. This data must be encrypted and stored with appropriate security. Hackers often use this type of data to withdraw money from users’ online accounts. The encryption will make it difficult for any unauthorized person to break in and retrieve this data rather than keeping it in plain text.
Power consumption and battery life
We haven’t seen a lot of innovations in the mobile battery, but mobile usage and specifications are increasing rapidly. People are using more and more apps nowadays and the apps are more complex than ever. This is why testers should test the power consumption of applications, because if the applications use a lot of CPU cycles and some applications are also running in the background, the battery will drain quickly. We need to make sure that the app uses less battery power so that users can use it for longer.
Mobile applications evolve with device technology and user expectations. The developers focus on reducing app size and battery usage. Testers play a major role in making sure the app is running smoothly and doesn’t crash or have bugs. This is why testers need to be aware of the latest trends in mobile app testing to face the challenges. mobile app testing challenges.