The Future of Mobile Testing: Part One

Everywhere you look today, people are on their phones. Whether they’re using Waze to navigate their Uber riders through the city traffic-free, searching the Pinterest boards for tonight’s dinner inspiration, managing their finances, or button-mashing their way to the high score on the latest game like Flappy Bird or Candy Crush, the usage of mobile devices has found its way into every nook and cranny of our daily lives.

Five years ago, the modern smartphone that we know and love today had just surpassed non-smartphones in sales. It was estimated that this adoption would drive 102 billion app store downloads and a global app revenue of $26 billion.  In 2017, the total global number of mobile app downloads surpassed 197 billion with worldwide revenue from app stores reaching $110 billion.  This growing usage of mobile devices and apps has driven the demand for mobile app development through the roof.

With more than 2.8 million apps available to Android users and 2.2 million in the Apple App Store, the competition for consumer attention and loyalty is more intense than ever.  Slow network connections, a complex navigation, and a hideous UI can be anyone’s downfall. One bug or slow API call can lead to the loss of data, a security breach, and ultimately, the loss of customer trust.

It’s become evident that mobile app development is a key step needed for some companies to stay afloat and it’s more important than ever that businesses invest in mobile testing. Users have basic expectations for the apps they use. Buttons should be clickable. Screens should be scrollable. Swiping left on Tinder should mean left and not right.

Ease of use, security, performance, speed. These are all words consumers would expect to associate with the mobile apps they use. Any application that doesn’t meet these standards will flounder.  Those that innovate beyond this can take the world by storm.

Mobile Apps Today & The Testing Challenges They Pose

When mobile devices came onto the market in the early 1990s they didn’t do much more than make phone calls and send texts with a QWERTY keyboard.

The standard smartphone or tablet today has a touch screen UX and variety of sensors such as GPS sensors and accelerometers that can track and predict the users’ coordinates and the speed they’re going. They can adjust the screen brightness automatically based on ambient conditions, such as if you’re outside or inside or if it’s night.  You can use a mobile app to buy anything from airline flights to clothing, deposit a check, or use an app like PillPack to connect with your doctor and access your medical information and prescriptions.

These now-basic capabilities already pose major challenges for QA teams globally. Developers and testers need to account for new gestures like swipes, taps, and scrolls and orientation.  The myriad of different devices, screen sizes, and operating systems means that individual platforms have unique capabilities and issues that teams must address.

On the back-end, sensitive data is constantly being accessed and handled. Not only is ensuring personal, medical, and financial data security important, but it’s essential that basic information, like flight times or calendar notifications are accurately portrayed.

App performance is also heavily based on the device type and operating system it sits on. All the while, apps are limited to the storage and processing capabilities of the device itself, along with the battery life. Any app that takes up too much storage or kills the users’ battery risks being deleted.

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