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Tips for Testing Within the Ever-Changing Mobile Market

Posted on 10.22.2013

The biggest challenge mobile presents is not a small screen, but a fragmented market that is peppered with numerous devices and operating systems.

This poses a problem for developers, who are not only required to create multiple versions of an app for different devices, but also keep these apps updated for new software releases – including iOS7. In fact, Apple’s newest software update requires all new apps and app updates to support iOS7, be optimized for Retina display and support the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s. Plus, consumer expectations are making things even more complicated, according to Keynote’s Senior Director of Product Marketing Rachel Obstler.

“What we see now in the market is not only are people demanding access to mobile, but they demand it to be quality access,” said Obstler. “If it’s not quality access, they’ll try once, they’ll maybe try twice, and then they are going to go somewhere else.”

Many of the UI elements have changed for iOS7, including the swipe functionality, according to Obstler. This can put the usability of apps that are not updated in serious jeopardy. But iOS7 is hardly the first change to arrive in the realm of mobile, and businesses must adapt because the industry is continuing to roll out new devices and software at a rapid pace. In order to keep up with this evolving industry, keep the following testing tips top of mind:

Do Market Research

The first step is to plan out the set of devices that you want to test your app across. Obstler notes that it is not feasible to test across every device and software on the market, however, choosing a diverse testing group is possible. In order to do so, developers must think about their target audience, consider what types of devices their audience is leveraging and which operating systems (and versions) are the most popular amongst this audience. By discovering this information, developers can test apps on a variety of targeted devices, OS versions and screen resolutions, which minimize the chances of bugs being found and reported once the apps are made available to the public for download. 

Find a Testing Platform

Testing application performance is essential, but deciding how to test can be a bit overwhelming. This is because developers can test apps with real devices, through emulated devices, or even a combination of the two. That said, testing with real devices is challenging because it is both expensive and time consuming to obtain access to numerous working devices. Plus, it is nearly impossible to access all of the devices on the market, which makes this testing strategy pretty restrictive.

Luckily, the Net is full of testing platforms that can be used to emulate app usage on real devices. This is why it is helpful to have a testing device group outlined, so that it is easy to identify which platforms provide access to the chosen devices and OS versions. For example, if you want to be able to test your app across iOS and Android devices, a platform like testdroid might be a good choice. Conversely, if apps also need to be tested on Windows devices, it would be better to consider a platform like UserTesting.com or DeviceAnywhere.

Consider Automation

With the growing importance of mobile, it is essential for apps to work properly at all times. Yet, the increasing number of devices in the market can make regular testing overwhelming, especially for enterprises that offer multiple apps. This is where testing automation comes into play. This testing tactic enables brands to create scripts that work across devices and are resilient to new software and phones. That said, maintenance of automation still takes a lot of effort, which is why Obstler notes that businesses should make sure that automation is the right decision for their apps. Not only does this tactic require a staff to create and maintain scripts, but it can also be difficult to obtain certain insights through automated tests, including how a customer interacts with an app’s new features. In fact, the DeviceAnywhere website states that it is typically better to conduct manual testing early in the development process, with automation being a better fit once testing processes start to become standardized. Moreover, Obstler notes that enterprises should talk with their QA team and assess the tools they already have for app testing before making a commitment to automation.

Keep a Close Eye on Analytics

Despite how rigorous your testing strategy is, consumers will likely find some bugs with your app once it is out in the wild. This is why it is important to keep an eye on your app’s performance through analytics platforms. Flurry, for example, offers Crash Analytics, which notifies developers when there are issues with their apps. By keeping an analytics platform like this handy, you will be able to resolve problems that weren’t found during the initial testing process, before they get out of hand.

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