Featured, Mobile

‘Importance’ of “Mobile App Testing” and Associated ‘Challenges’

There is no doubt about the fact that designing and developing a mobile app, are probably the most entertaining stages of a mobile app creation process. Creativity comes to forefront when you sit to conceptualize a mobile app. That’s when lights go off, and innovation comes to your aid.

Designing is all about putting your concepts on paper, and prototyping completes the cycle. Development is all about putting life into the concept, by incorporating features and functionalities through coding. However, the whole fun part ruins, as soon as QA and testing comes to play.

Looking at any QA geek guy, a serious personality hovers around your mind for a while, with no passion whatsoever for mobile app detailing. The only concern he (she) has is testing a mobile app on all possible aspects, to track any bugs or errors. The job might not be that interesting to perform. However, believe it or not, seriousness is the actual key to successful testing.

Testing stands an important role in a ‘complete’ app

It is a universally known fact that testing is the stage, wherein an app usability and appearance are checked, maybe not once but multiple times if required. No matter how good the user interface looks, or how smooth the user experience is, if it crashes all the time, then your app turns out to be complete disaster.

A study reveals, only 16% of smartphone users check out the app second time, after finding it buggy. So, this clearly means, that your app has to be as popular as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, or few others, with a tremendous fan following. Only then, people will be loyal to your app, even if full of bugs.

Let us learn a few lessons by taking experiences from 3 wonderful apps, out of which only two were able to survive the wave of user complaints all over the place.

1. “Forecast” – A dream app on iOS, failing miserably on Android

Forecast is probably the best example, representing a heart breaking scenario of the impact, in the absence of testing. It was a wonderful iOS app once upon a time, working wonders on iPhone, taking the features of Facebook and Foursquare to a whole new level. With the help of this app, users were able to plan social events, have check-inns, and more. It was truly one of the most loved apps on iOS.

However, when used on Android, it accompanied too many crashes, bugs, and many other problems. On one hand, if it garnered positive reviews on iPhone, it had an equal opposite response on Android, full of criticism. One primary reason for this was, 2012 was the year when Android saw a hell lot of criticism with Jelly Bean coming into play.

Had Forecast invested more resources into QA as well as testing, it would have overcome the troubles faced based on user feedback. The issues included app crashing constantly, and not letting users to schedule events more than 2 weeks in advance. The company did not give a damn to beta user feedback, and as a result the app shutdown, much to the sorrow of iOS users loyal to the app.

2. “Facebook” – Always buggy making it pointless to even mention

As the title suggests, Facebook mobile app has always been famous for wrong reasons. Earlier, it faced the mishap of the app relying too heavily on HTML5, making it a hybrid offering in place rather than a native offering. Then people complained about the ever changing services, by adding new functionalities and features. Everytime there are updates or upgrades, bugs are sure to happen.

So, what choices you stand at this point? You can either implement stringent QA/Testing resources to perform iterations repeatedly, listen to what problems customers are facing and accordingly work on improvements, or probably keep rolling out new things without sorting out all issues. No wonder Facebook sticks to third approach every single time, considering the fact that it has billions of loyal users falling back to check the app.

3. “iPad  AppStore” – Tolerating the app for the sake of using it

It has been counted as Apple’s worst app on many occasions. Using iPad AppStore directly refers to tedious and absolute slow loading, with only 10 apps seen at a time. If right mobile app testing would have been in place, the app should have been able to behave and load smoothly across devices.

Testing does accompany a few ‘hurdles’

As much necessary testing is, it becomes even more important to foresee the hurdles accompanied by it. Let us check what these hurdles are, and how they can prove to be a pain, in fine-tuning the testing process:

a. So many devices to check your app

This is not much of a problem, if you consider only Apple devices for testing purpose. However, this poses as a serious problem with Android, having multiple stock versions on different devices. In addition, the app needs to be tested on different size screens, and even meeting different specifications for different devices, like battery, RAM, CPU, etc.

b. Compatibility across varied devices

Designing and developing apps for both iOS and Android platforms, requires twice the efforts by mobile testing and QA team, due to differences in frameworks, programming platforms, specifications, and lot other things. If that doesn’t happen, you have your app working well on one platform, and proving to be a disaster on another.

c. Market pressure boiling up

Mobile app development isn’t just another normal phenomenon, executed overnight. It takes a whole lot of efforts, especially dealing with the delivery pressure, to transform a unique idea into a workable model, and still there is no guarantee whether your app will shine or not. There are only two choices you app have once released in the marketplace: either stand out or get disappear in the crowd.

Shining out is a macro challenge, which involves a unique blend of innovation, and a first mover advantage. For this, quality creative apps, need to be created within no time and delivered right to the smartphones. To achieve this feat, the testing team need to be on their toes all the time, checking app for even minute loopholes, detected on multiple iterations.

Mobile app testing isn’t ‘electrifying’, but quite “necessary”

As a Quality Assurance (QA) Tester yourself, you will understand my point. Debugging requires an eye for details, which has no point dealing with the automated tools. An experienced human can debug in a way, an automated bot can’t. Do take your time to share this article with your fellow QA testers, and even businesses to better understand the role of testing, and their involvement in every single mobile app undertaking.

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Kathy Kim is working with Fusion Informatics- a web, software and mobile application development company. She is exploring their experience through informative article with others.

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