Mobile Application Testing

Get a comprehensive understanding of mobile application testing with our guide. Discover more about techniques, tools, and trends that are being used today.

Mobile application testing is an essential process and part of the software delivery lifecycle that ensures the quality, functionality, accessibility, and performance of mobile apps before they are released to the public. In the ever growing mobile app marketplace, rigorous testing is essential to deliver a positive user experience and achieve business goals.

Importance of Mobile Application Testing

Most if not all products undergo a series of thorough tests before being released to market. Mobile apps are no different. Mobile application testing acts as a quality check, guaranteeing a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here’s why prioritizing testing is crucial:

  • User happiness and loyalty: Testing unearths and identifies confusing elements and frustrating glitches that impact user interactions. This creates an intuitive and user friendly experience that keeps people engaged and coming back for more.
  • Stable Performance and Satisfaction: Testing beyond basic functionality is also important. Performance testing assesses how the app performs under various conditions, like different devices or weak internet connections. Fixing performance bottlenecks will ensure a smooth and reliable operation even during peak usage times.
  • Save Time and Money: Catching bugs and defects early in the development process when they are cheaper to resolve is important as fixing problems after launch gets costly. It is a small upfront investment that saves headaches and money later.
  • Security and Trust Matter: Testing helps identify identifies security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by threat actors. Since mobile apps often handle sensitive user information mobile app testing addresses these risks and builds trust with users and demonstrates a commitment to protecting their privacy.
  • Success upon Success: Well tests apps lead to more positive user experiences. Happy users are more likely to engage, leave positive reviews, and recommend the app to others. This positive word-of-mouth leads to increased downloads and growth. Investing in thorough testing lays the foundation for long term success.

In essence, testing isn’t an afterthought, it’s an essential step. It ensures a high-quality product that delights users and helps your app reach its full potential.

Understanding Different Types of Mobile Apps

  • Native apps: Built specifically for a single operating system, either iOS or Android these apps are developed using programming languages specific to that platform, like Swift for iOS and Java for Android. Since they are designed for a single platform native apps leverage full device capabilities offering superior performance and a natural feeling user experience. This includes like smooth scrolling, intuitive animations, and tight integration with device features like the camera, GPS, and fingerprint sensor. The single platform focus can be an issue however. It is complex and costly to develop and maintain separate native apps for iOS and Android.
  • Web Apps: These apps are accessed through a mobile web browser, similar to the way you access a website on your computer. They have a wider reach as a result of being able to be used on any mobile browser. They are easier and faster to develop, as a single codebase can be used for all platforms. The tradeoff is that web apps are sometimes slower and less responsive than native apps due to relying on the internet connection and processing power of the device. Their access to device features is limited and the user experience is less polished when compared to native apps designed for a specific device.
  • Hybrid Apps: Combine elements of both native and web apps. They typically have a native app shell that interacts with web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It gives developers the ability to create an app that can operate on both iOS and Android platforms while still providing a near-native user experience. Developing hybrid apps can be more cost-effective than native apps, and they still offer a solid user experience across platforms. Hybrid apps are slower than native apps and are limited in how deeply they can integrate with some device features.
  • Enterprise Apps: Usually used internally these apps are designed for businesses to streamline specific operations and improve workflows. Examples include apps for inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), or enterprise communication. Since they deal with sensitive business data, enterprise apps often have enhanced security features to protect this information. They are also specifically tailored to the needs of the organization. Since they are internal tools they are not publicly available, and often require strict security testing to ensure data safety.
  • Game Apps: Simply put these are mobile games designed for entertainment and engagement. The range is staggering from casual puzzle games to immersive role-playing games (RPGs). They key aspect is to provide a highly engaging and interactive experience for users which comes from the prioritization of smooth gameplay and fast performance across a wide range of devices. Essential to provide these experiences is extensive performance testing.

Stages of Mobile Application Testing

Typically conducted throughout the development lifecycle, Mobile application testing encompasses various stages:

  • Unit testing lays the foundation ensuring that the different individual modules or classes function correctly when isolated from one another. An example would be testing a login module separately to verify it can validate user credentials independent of other parts of the app.
  • Integration testing shifts the focus towards how these independent units work together. It checks if different modules communicate seamlessly to for a cohesive whole system. For example testing to ensure the login module can successfully retrieve customer data from the backend.
  • System Testing puts the entire application to the test. It verifies that all functionality works as intended and the app adheres to all requirements, both functional (features working as designed) and non-functional (accessibility, performance, usability, security). This stage is where you would test the entire login process, from entering credentials to landing on the appropriate app screen.
  • Acceptance testing is where stakeholders come in. It validates that the application meets their needs and expectations. Like if a group of target users test the login process to ensure it’s intuitive and user-friendly.
  • Regression testing is crucial to ensure that after fixing bugs or adding new features those changes haven’t caused unintended issues elsewhere in the app. It verifies that existing functionality has not regressed due to modifications.

Different types of Mobile Application Testing

There are a number of types of mobile application testing, each addresses specific aspects of the app:

Functional Testing

Functional testing verifies that app features according to defined requirements and specifications. Examples include testing login functions, data entry, and searches.

Performance Testing

Performance testing assesses how apps perform under different load conditions (number of users, network bandwidth). It is a crucial testing method to ensure smooth operations during peak usage periods.

Security Testing

Security testing helps identify security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by threat actors. It includes testing for data breaches, unauthorized access, and potential injection attacks.

Usability Testing

Usability testing evaluates how intuitive and user-friendly the app is. It involves observing real users interacting with the app and identifying any usability issues that hinder their experience.

Compatibility Testing

Compatibility testing ensures applications function flawlessly across different devices (operating systems, screen sizes, hardware configurations) and network conditions.

Automating Mobile Testing

Manual testing, is still essential, though it is time-consuming and repetitive. Automation testing tools can significantly improve efficiency and coverage:

Advantages of Automation Testing:

  • Quicker execution of repetitive test cases
  • Improved test coverage
  • Reduced human error
  • Simpler regression testing

Tools for Automation Testing:

  • Appium: Open-source framework for automating native, web, and hybrid apps across different platforms.
  • Calabash: Open-source framework specifically designed to automate native mobile apps.
  • XCTest (iOS): Built-in framework for automating UI testing on iOS devices.
  • Espresso (Android): Open-source framework from Google for automating UI testing on Android devices.

Creating a Mobile Testing Plan

Having a well-defined mobile testing plan will act as a roadmap for the entire process. There are some essential items to include:

  • Testing scope requires a clear definition of the functionality features and devices under test.
  • Testing objectives outline the goals for testing.
  • Testing strategy defines the overall approach to testing which outlines the types of testing to be conducted and the methodologies used.
  • Environment setup specifies the hardware and software requirements for testing which includes devices operating systems and tools.
  • Data management plans for creating and managing test data that reflects real-world scenarios. This might involve anonymized user data or creating mock data sets.
  • Test case design and prioritization develops detailed test cases that cover all functionality and user interactions.
  • Defect management process establishes a clear process to identify report track and resolve defects unearthed during testing.
  • Scheduling and estimation defines a timeline with clear deadlines for each testing phase.
  • Reporting and communication outline the format and frequency of testing reports that communicate progress, findings, and recommendations to stakeholders.
  • Risk management identifies potential risks associated with mobile app testing and defines mitigation strategies.
  • Approval process specifies the approval process for test plans, test cases, and final test results before app release.

Tips for Effective Mobile Testing

Here are some important tips to ensure effective mobile application testing:

  • Start Early and Test Throughout the Development Lifecycle: Integrate testing into every development stage, as it is much less costly to mitigate defects early in the process.
  • Define Clear Testing Goals and Objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve with each test to help prioritize testing efforts and track progress.
  • Choose the Right Testing Tools: Select tools that align with the specific app type, testing needs, and budget.
  • Utilize a Combination of Manual and Automated Testing: Automated tools are great for repetitive tasks, but gaining human insight through manual testing is essential as well.
  • Test on Real Devices: While emulators and simulators offer a convenient testing environment, real-world device testing is crucial to uncover hardware-specific issues.
  • Test Across Different Network Conditions: Testing app performance on various network speeds (Wi-Fi, cellular data) ensures a seamless experience across different connectivity scenarios.
  • Involve Stakeholders in Testing: Include stakeholders in the testing process to gain valuable feedback on user experience and functionality.
  • Document Test Cases and Results: Maintain clear documentation of test cases, expected outcomes, and actual results. This facilitates future reference and regression testing.
  • Continuously Improve Your Testing Process: The testing strategy must be reviewed regularly and adapted based on project needs and industry best practices.

Steps to Test a Mobile Application

There are six main steps involved in testing mobile applications:

  1. Planning and preparation defines the testing scope, objectives, and resources needed. This stage is where the testing environment is set up.
  2. Test case development creates detailed test cases covering all functionalities, features, and potential user scenarios.
  3. Test execution manually or automatically executes the test cases and documents the results.
  4. Defect reporting and management Identifies and report bugs encountered during testing. Track their resolution until fixed.
  5. Regression testing re-runs critical test cases after bug fixes or new feature implementation to ensure there are no regressions.
  6. Reporting and review documents the overall testing process, results, and recommendations for improvement.

Trends in Mobile Application Testing

The mobile app testing landscape constantly evolves. Some key trends to watch include:

  • Shift towards Cloud-Based testing with cloud-based testing platforms that offer increased scalability, flexibility, and access to a wider range of devices for testing.
  • Increased adoption of AI and ML powered tools that enhance automation capabilities, allowing for more sophisticated test case generation and data analysis.
  • Focus on security testing as mobile apps handle more sensitive data, security testing will continue to gain importance to protect against evolving threats.
  • Performance testing for emerging technologies accommodates new technologies like 5G networks and foldable devices.


Mobile application testing is a critical investment that ensures high-quality, secure, and user-friendly mobile apps. Implementing a comprehensive testing strategy throughout the development lifecycle, allows businesses to deliver exceptional mobile experiences that drive user engagement and success.