Future Success for Mobile Apps Rests in Effective Testing

Date:   Friday , September 05, 2014

ITC Infotech provides IT services and solutions to global customers in the verticals of BFSI, treasury & capital markets, CPG&R, life sciences and others. Founded in 2000, the company is headquartered in Bangalore.

As we head towards a boom in the app world, how do we ensure workability and success of the apps we create in the coming future?

Mobility is growing at a phenomenal rate globally, replacing technologies and devices that have been in vogue over the last two decades. Substantiating the fact is that tablets are projected to overtake the sale of traditional Personal Computers by 2015. IDC has predicted a growth of 19.4 percent CAGR for the tablet market this year, placing devices, including 2-in-1s, on track to overtake PC sales by the end of next year. Research analyst Gartner also reports that smartphone sales have already overtaken feature phones for the first time last year. This proliferation of new mobile devices in the market has created an entire industry of apps that is predicted to reach $58 billion in 2014 and shoot up to $267 billion by 2017.

This exponential growth has had a profound effect on the role of mobile app testers, who are now required to test not only the functionality of the app, but a wide range of other areas as well. As Gartner also predicts, soon mobile users will allow personalized data streams to apps and service on daily basis. And in the next three to four years, apps will not remain confined only to mobiles and tablets, but also get deeper into the consumer\'s life through wearable devices, home appliances, even cars. In fact, by 2017, wearable devices could drive 50 percent of total app traffic in the world.

These trends have made the days of developing an app for one device, browser or carrier redundant. The advent of the \'Internet of Things\' gets products and services to communicate with mobile devices; apps now have a greater agenda to fill, be much more flexible and high performing to be able to meet the demand.

What Does This Mean For App Developers?

Bracing up for a much more comprehensive testing scenario before launching the product in the market. Fool proof testing is going to be essential to ensure successful hit rates in an overloaded market. And testing will incorporate newer dimensions such as, testing the effectiveness of the app on different devices, its usability and user experience across many platforms. Approaches such as crowd-sourcing and automating regression test execution through continuous integration must take place on a much broader scale.

Standard tests like load and performance tests are no longer good enough for mobile apps. This situation is compounded by the fact that different testing approaches are required for testing native, web and hybrid mobile apps.

In order to test at the raised levels, testers demand a lot more out of the tools they use and the industry faces pressure to constantly better itself in order to meet this demand. Particularly, offshore testing organisations are investing heavily in setting up mobility testing labs to contend with the range of devices and platforms available. The number of specialist tools and techniques required for mobile testing has also increased in order to meet the challenge. Simulators and emulators are essential for early development testing; while cloud-based solutions are often required for device and platform compatibility testing. The software must also be tested on an actual physical device for 100 percent coverage and a realistic view of its performance.

There are several sources to increase test coverage. For instance, crowd sourcing with tools like uTest for UX/Usability testing provide the next level along with WAN emulations for simulation testing on different networks and in different network conditions. The app can also be tested using device emulators, which is provided with iOS and Android SDKs (software development kits).

A newer approach that is soon gaining popularity is testing automation. Similar to other automated testing platforms, mobile testing automation is a guaranteed way to test mobile apps for bugs, identify errors and then resolve issues before upload. Incidentally, automated testing itself has become complex and time consuming, compared to desktop and web applications. The challenge is to find ways to test an app for innumerable permutation and combinations. And answer is a comprehensive mobile strategy that takes into consideration only the relevant target device and network infrastructure parameters. App makers can improve their testing strategy by employing an effective combination of manual and automated testing tools to cover both functional and non-functional testing. The choice of tools is vital when it comes to getting mobile applications to market on time and within budget. App makers can choose between Open Source or Proprietary tools for test automation. There is also a third option of cloud-based tools, which offers manual and automated testing on real devices connected to their cloud.

The key to achieve a comprehensive, future-ready testing framework is to combine different aspects and ways of testing including automation and traditional best practices, along with a mix and match of the industry best tools and services.