5 Unique Mobile App Testing Challenges

At first glance, it may seem that testing a mobile app is not much different from testing a regular desktop app. Mobile and desktop apps are often written in the same languages ​​and hosted on the same servers. They must also meet the same basic user expectations in areas such as upload speed and accessibility.

But when you dig into the details, you realize that mobile apps are fundamentally different from desktop apps, and that mobile testing, by the way, requires a unique approach. You can’t just take a software testing strategy that works for desktop apps and apply it to your mobile apps.

This article breaks down the top five reasons why mobile testing requires a different strategy than desktop application testing, and what unique needs QA engineers should consider when testing applications.

1. Variability of mobile phone configuration

Perhaps the biggest difference between mobile and desktop testing is that with mobile apps, engineers have many more possible configurations to deal with.

There are only two major operating systems in the desktop world, Windows and macOS, and relatively few OS versions for each family. And while there are many types of PCs and laptops, they all follow the same basic hardware standards.

In contrast, there are more than 24,000 different types of Android mobile devices – not to mention iOS devices that add to the variety of hardware. There is also a wider selection of mobile operating systems and versions.

For QA teams, this means there are many more variables to test with mobile devices. It also means that testing needs to be more efficient so that engineers can test as many possible configurations as possible without delaying software release cycles.

2. Lack of mobile testing standards

With a traditional web desktop application, there is a consistent set of standards that the application must meet when delivering content—specifically, standards set by the W3C, the consortium that advocates for a standards-based, interoperable world. Broad Internet.

However, there is nothing in the mobile world that matches W3C standards. Apps can deliver content in many different ways, many of which are device-specific.

This again increases the need for specific test teams to consider more variants and edge cases. For desktop apps, it is often enough to ensure that the app complies with W3C standards, but mobile testing is not so simple.

3. Unique mobile accessibility requirements

Accessibility testing, ensuring that accessibility features such as the ability to increase text size work properly, is important to providing a great experience for all users, whether they’re accessing apps on desktop or mobile.

However, accessibility testing on mobile devices is more difficult because there are more errors when implementing accessibility features. For example, smaller device screen sizes and a larger variation in average screen size may mean that the application will render some text off-screen when the text size increases. Alternatively, the “night mode” feature on the display may result in a lower-than-expected contrast between the text and the background, causing accessibility issues for some users.

A mobile phone testing strategy must be able to accommodate risks that are not as prominent for desktop applications.

4. Differences in the mobile environment

By definition, mobile devices can be used in a variety of physical settings. Depending on the location from which the user accesses the mobile app, the performance of the app can be affected by various environmental factors that are not normally applicable to desktop apps.

For example, limited network connectivity can reduce app performance when users travel too far from cell towers. Alternatively, power-saving features on mobile devices running on low battery power may reduce the speed at which app content is rendered.

Again, these factors create additional risks that quality assurance teams must address when planning test procedures.

5. Higher stakes for mobile testing

It’s a best practice to try to provide the best possible experience for all users, desktop or not. But the reality is that a poor user experience with mobile apps usually has a negative impact on a company’s brand.

The reason is that users can easily highlight poor app performance by giving apps low ratings or leaving negative comments on marketplaces. Most desktop apps cannot do these things because, unlike mobile apps, most desktop apps are not downloaded through centralized marketplaces with user rating features.

This difference doesn’t make mobile testing more technically challenging, and to be clear, I’m not saying you can skimp on desktop testing because users will abandon your desktop apps if they don’t work as they should, but it does raise the stakes for improving your testing strategy. When it comes to reputation, companies simply have more to lose by providing buggy apps than by providing low-quality desktop apps.

Conclusion: The need for purpose-built testing solutions

For all the above reasons, we need more mobile-specific testing strategies and solutions.

Historically, QA teams often tried to extend their desktop testing strategies to mobile as they added apps to their catalogs, but that approach just doesn’t work. Mobile apps and devices are too fundamentally different to be included in a desktop testing routine. The sooner QA engineers understand this, the sooner they can optimize their user experience.

Leave a Comment