Testing Android mobile apps: Best QA approaches and tools
Nowadays, a smartphone is not just a gadget, it is a necessity. With its help, people can perform the most diverse tasks with ease. Moreover, they cannot imagine their lives without it. What is important is that Android-powered devices are the most commonly used. According to Statista, there are about 1,6 billion Android users, and the Android share of mobile OS worldwide is 72,84 %. So it is not surprising that so many mobile apps target Android users. Considering this fact, Android mobile app testing is a usual practice for most QA experts. But if you are a newbie, we have useful tips in store for you.
What is Mobile Testing?
Mobile testing is a process of checking mobile applications, i.e. software programs running on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, for functionality, performance, security, usability, etc. It can be carried out with manual or automated tests. Whatever method is applied the main mission is to ensure that a mobile app meets either business requirements or end-users' needs and expectations.
Traditionally, the following types of mobile applications are differentiated:
Native apps are designed for a particular platform with corresponding languages and SDK and are generally installed via a corresponding app store.
Mobile web apps are developed with the help of server-side technologies and are accessed via mobile browsers. Both responsive website versions and progressive web apps are classified as mobile web apps.
Hybrid apps also run on mobile devices and are installed via app stores but are developed with web technologies. Compared to mobile web apps, these apps can make use of the in-built capabilities of a mobile device and features of the operating system.
In this article, we concentrate on testing native Android mobile apps. So, stay tuned.
The peculiarities of testing Android mobile apps
While testing an Android mobile app, it is advised to pay particular attention to the following things:
App installation and uninstallation
App installation and uninstallation are those aspects that define a positive user experience. So make sure that an app can be easily and correctly installed/uninstalled. Besides, it is also of high importance to verify app update handling. Quite often Android apps get updated quietly, as a result, users cannot control memory space on their devices and this may affect user experience. So check whether a user receives a corresponding notification whenever an app requires an update.
App behavior on unstable Internet connection
Unfortunately, an Internet connection is not always stable and smooth and the reality is so that sometimes Android apps cannot handle Internet disconnections properly. They may unexpectedly shut down or even crash. Therefore, a testing team should check the way an app addresses intermittent connection, transition (e.g. from Wi-Fi to 4G) on the go, and disconnection. In this situation, manual testing is more appropriate as it better simulates real-life conditions.
Battery drain and device performance
Android is a fairly heavy operating system. Most mobile apps are apt to work in the background, even if a user makes an attempt to close them. This exhausts a device battery, inevitably reducing its service life. Moreover, the device efficiency, in general, goes down as a plethora of apps run in the background. The aim of a QA team is to assure that when the app is not actively used it doesn't drain the device battery. Therefore, it should be carefully checked if the app receives and sends data while being in the background.
The Android team has made every effort to provide high security standards but the openness of Android is a significant security flaw. Compared to iOS, Android has a significantly less strict publishing policy, as a result, practically everyone can publish an app in the Google Play Store. Consequently, there may be infected apps that while being installed by a user may transmit the infection to other apps on a user's device. If your app contains sensitive data it can lead to catastrophe. To eliminate all possible risks and ensure safety, experienced QA engineers should execute comprehensive security testing.
Automation vs Manual testing of Android mobile app
Automation testing is gaining traction with each day. So the question of whether to automate your Android app testing arises. As a matter of fact, it depends on your app.
Usually, for small and simple Android mobile apps there is no sense to implement automation testing. But even in this situation automation can be still used in case there are tight deadlines, extensive market targeting, and device coverage, etc. Besides, you will have to use automation for performance testing that just cannot be conducted manually.
When it comes to large-scale and complex Android apps, automation testing is indeed the most winning scenario that lets a QA team achieve maximum efficiency, accelerate test procedures, and save a ton of time, effort, and money in the long run. Apart from performance testing, regression testing is the main candidate for test automation which can be implemented via test automation solutions available today on the market. Frankly speaking, the range of automation testing tools for Android apps is rather broad. The market leaders are Appium, Android Studio, Selendroid, Espresso, Roboelectric, etc.
Generally, the optimal share of automated tests in the whole testing scope is about 70 – 80%. The thing is that manual testing is still irreplaceable for particular test scenarios.
Android mobile app testing stages
To gain excellent results it is essential to have a proper testing strategy and provide a smooth workflow. In this context, we offer you to get acquainted with the main stages of Android app testing.
A thorough test planning is half the battle. It is essential from the early beginning to define the most important aspects of mobile app testing and design its strategy. At this stage, a QA team outlines test scope, test coverage, device coverage, required resources, estimated deadlines, and others. Besides, a decision is made whether to implement test automation and which test scenarios to automate.
Test environment set up
It is necessary to have all the required real devices in place. If there is a need to make use of emulators, simulators, or cloud devices, corresponding preparations should be done as well.
Test case/script writing
As long as it has been decided which app functionality should be covered with tests, QA experts get to test case design. In a broad sense, a test case is a list of steps to be done in order to check if an app behaves as expected in a particular situation. Test scripts are designed if the team has arrived at a decision to cover certain test scenarios with automated tests.
Test execution and bug reporting
The next stage is test execution and bug reporting. Usually, the active testing phase starts with functional testing to guarantee that all the core functionalities of an Android app work well. Firstly, it is better to execute manual exploration testing, and if an application under test (AUT) is stable enough move to automated test running.
UI testing and usability testing are also of high importance as they let QA experts evaluate user experience and understand whether an Android app under test is easy to use, intuitive, user-friendly, and without UI defects.
Compatibility testing must be executed to check whether an app works properly on all targeted device models. This type of testing also gives an opportunity to ensure great user satisfaction.
Performance testing plays a crucial role in any app testing. In essence, there are several types of performance testing - volume testing, stress testing, stability testing, load testing, spike testing. In general, performance testing checks app behavior within and beyond estimated workloads. As the required levels of loads can be simulated only with the help of special tools, performance testing is all about automation.
As app performance and main functionality are checked it is high time to make sure that the app is secure enough and meets corresponding standards. It is a turn of security testing and compliance testing.
Apart from all the above-mentioned tests, it is essential also to pay attention to installation testing, update testing, interruption testing, recovery testing, device resource testing, and network configuration testing.
Besides, it is considered to be a good practice to execute beta/acceptance testing at the tail end. The thing is that either beta testing or user acceptance testing are executed by real app users. Consequently, it is a way to go to ensure that the AUT will be well accepted by end-users and make corresponding tweaks before app release.
So it is predictable that the last stage is reporting and making conclusions. At this stage, a comprehensive report on the results of Android app testing is generated. The detected and fixed bugs are analyzed, the most vulnerable app modules are defined, and a decision of whether an app is ready to be released is made.
The most commonly used testing tools for Android applications
Now, as you know what Android app testing is like, you understand that it is a holistic process addressing the multiple aspects of the app running. As a consequence, there is a lot of tools for this purpose helping QA teams efficiently automate different types of tests. The most commonly used among them are listed below:
OWASP Zed Attack Proxy, etc.
Why Android mobile app testing is so important?
As a matter of fact, testing of any software is of primary importance, and Android applications are not an exception. The success of your app depends not only on the offered set of features but on its quality which covers the most diverse criteria - app performance, stability, security, convenience, user-friendliness, and many others. All these are covered with software testing. Experienced QA experts conduct a wide range of different tests to check your Android app inside out and provide high app quality and high user satisfaction. In spite of additional time and investments, Android mobile app testing justifies itself and lets you stay confident of the app taking off and high ROI.