Best Practices for Automated Mobile Testing

By Joseph D. Schulz, Director of Mobile Testing, Orasi Software — July 29, 2013

For mobile application developers, quality can be a challenge. The explosive growth of mobile services and applications, paired with the broad array of form factors, operating systems, firmware and other variables, makes comprehensive testing difficult. Add to this the escalating focus on frequent updates and it's no wonder that many firms have difficulty producing consistent, quality results across all devices.

Unfortunately, end users are becoming increasingly impatient with mobile sites, services and applications that crash or otherwise fail to perform as expected. The 2012 Google study "What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today," conducted by research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, found that 52% of mobile users say a bad mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with a company.

Fortunately, automated testing in the cloud is now enabling companies to test more devices, more quickly than ever before. With cloud-based testing, third-party providers establish and sell access to remote “labs,” where hundreds of mobile handsets and tablets are tethered to cloud-based servers.

These, in turn, are connected to widely dispersed, live networks. Companies access these labs, usually through a web-based interface, and can test their services and software on as many devices as necessary without the expense of purchasing and setting up the devices in house.

Following are some tips to optimize cloud-based mobile testing strategies:

  1. Before transitioning to cloud-based testing, evaluate your current testing policies, procedures, scripts and other program elements to see what works and what doesn't. Don't hesitate to incorporate elements from any testing framework your firm has developed for web or PC-based testing, as well. Best practices for service and software testing tend to be consistent across all platforms. Once you are confident your testing procedures and overall structure are solid, you can transition to the cloud without taking any broken processes with you.
  2. When choosing a cloud-based mobile testing solution, look for companies that offer a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. These models are the most cost effective because infrastructure costs are shared among all customers, who pay a set fee for the service. Some firms offer “blocks” of service (e.g. by the hour or the day), which lets you increase your ROI and tie testing expenses directly to their associated projects.
  3. Confirm that any service you license can accurately replicate the user experience. This is including interactive control of all handset features and key functions, for every handset it supports.
  4. If your company or clients require collaborative testing and/or demonstrations, ensure the service offers real-time handset sharing among multiple parties in distributed locations.
  5. Companies whose products integrate with platforms from leading companies will offer you the most flexibility. They can also provide some assurance that you'll be able to stay with one platform over the long haul.
Moving to the cloud for mobile testing may sound like a major project, but in reality, it's very nearly a "plug and play" experience. That's the beauty of the mobile cloud—someone else does all the setup work for you.

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