Testing Strategies for Mobile Applications

Even if your organization makes heavy use of test automation, testing mobile application software consumes significant time and resources. The paybacks are delighted customers and an elevation of your company’s reputation. Therefore, it makes sense to continue improving your testing methodologies and strategies to meet the demands of the fast-moving mobile app market.

Naturally, there is no single tool or approach that guarantees success. You may already utilize a mix of homegrown test apps, cloud-based test services and 3rd-party test frameworks. Regardless of how well that all plays together today, your current strategy will feel constant pressure to become ever more potent while saving time and money.

Analyzing and modifying your organization’s current mobile app test strategy, therefore, is essential to ensure you are achieving superb product quality in the most cost-effective manner.

Testing Strategies for Mobile Applications

Key Testing Challenges

The main challenges in testing mobile applications relate to the unique characteristics of the mobile market:

  • To obtain significant market coverage, apps must run at least iOS or Android, probably both.
  • Apps can run natively, via abstraction libraries, within a web browser or within a combination of these. Each of these have similar, but different testing requirements and techniques.
  • It is extremely difficult to test an app on every single targeted mobile device due to the multitude of manufacturers, models, screen densities, UIs and platform versions.
  • Any network-aware mobile app requires performance testing under various protocol, bandwidth and load conditions. This is especially important for apps that depend on a backend server.

Grasp the Big Picture

Mobile software development processes are still behind the curve in adopting agile development methodologies that have been successful in web development for decades. For instance, continuous integration, in which development and testing processes are coordinated via shared code repositories, has been proven to improve quality and speed time to market but is unused by most mobile app development organizations.

Agile methodologies truly thrive when supported by automation. Thus, as your organization moves to tackle the challenges of mobile app development and testing, evaluate your strategy, tactics and tools relative to their ability to increase the amount of test automation you use.

Reduce Manual Testing

Manual testing is typically orders of magnitude slower than automated testing even accounting for the initial costs and effort for putting automation in place. It can never be entirely eliminated, nor should it be, but replacing manual tests whenever possible is simply low-hanging fruit in terms of increasing QA efficiency.

Plan for Scale

Always evaluate tools and frameworks with regard to how well they scale up and scale down to meet testing demands. Cloud-based services offer the most flexible scaling capabilities, but many 3rd-party test frameworks intended for in-house use are designed for substantial scalability as well. Look for free or free trial versions that allow you to fully investigate their scalability.

Embrace Cross-Platform Now

For the foreseeable future, market shares between iOS, Android and Windows Phone are unlikely to drastically change. Even if development within your enterprise is fixated on a single OS now, that situation may change at any time. Therefore, it behooves QA to grant extra weight to test frameworks that build-in cross-platform support. Otherwise, you may be maintaining two or more different sets of test tools simultaneously.

Choose Comprehensive Test Frameworks

Ideally, in the quest for full automation, you should concentrate on acquiring test frameworks that support the entire testing process of requirements, test case and script generation, test execution, multimedia logging and a discover/report/fix defect cycle that integrates well with the developers’ tools.

Some frameworks include or are closely associated with cloud-based infrastructure services that include access to hundreds of real devices. These services significantly reduce the costs of acquiring and maintaining large numbers of mobile devices within your labs. Many also include live network testing, which could be difficult to adequately represent in your labs.

Frameworks that support both emulation and real devices assist in staging testing as development progresses from requirements to final release. The costs and benefits of scaling by testing on virtual versus real devices can be efficiently allocated according to the development level of application code.


Mobile testing will become more complex over time. Fortunately, there are coping strategies to ensure app quality and time-to-market are not compromised. The newest tools and services can be used to streamline and automate test case generation, scripting, test runs, logging and fix verification. In the bargain, test coverage increases, which also leads to improved quality of the final produce release.

Continuing to analyze and adjust your testing strategies, tactics and methodologies is necessary to place your organization ahead of the competition by increasing your testing capabilities at reduced costs.