By Jean Ann Harrison
Too often, I see project stakeholders and testers alike refer to the task of testing a mobile software project or application as “mobile testing.” But mobile testing is a broad subject with four distinct architecture types.
Mobile testing projects include a mobile native application (app), mobile hybrid app, mobile Web app, and mobile Web site.
Let’s take the ambiguity out of the discussion and distinguish these four mobile testing project types and review distinctive tests based on each type.
The temperature of the device’s battery plays more importance for the functionality of the native app because processing also generates more heat within a small contained area—the device.
Load testing for the native app is not defined the same way it would be for hybrid, Web site, and Web app testing. Native apps have one user, which is the “load.” However, there are other types of load to consider in the tests. What about the load on the CPU speed while the native app is performing some function? There is load coming from other apps running in the background while your native app is used/in focus/active. Consideration to the resources native to the device is critical when designing native app tests. Native apps do not have the same dependency when it comes to security because interaction outside the device is not part of the functionality. Native apps may send/receive data via wireless transmissions, which should have security tests for data integrity, but if data transmission is not a high priority, security tests will have a lesser focus.
Native app testing requires the tester to consider a variety of device types when building a testing lab. Many tests designed for native apps require direct device testing and cannot be emulated or simulated. Planning a test lab then becomes a significant part to native app projects.
Mobile Web Apps
Mobile Web apps depend on user interaction to fulfill their purpose. User experience, therefore, is different between mobile Web app and mobile Web site software projects. To help understand the difference, look at a restaurant’s mobile Web site and compare with a retail Web site like Amazon.com. Would you apply the same tests to both types of mobile entities? Sure, the restaurant’s site might include a form to fill out; but the Web site does not require the user to fulfill its purpose, which is to display information about the restaurant itself.
Attention to security, data validation, load, stress—on several levels, functionality, network communication, browser compatibility, and carrier tests will have strong focus. Add usability, trainability, and desirability and testing the value and usefulness of the Web apps to a mobile environment creates more complexity than testing a mobile site. Device conditions are not a high priority. The app itself will not change or have problems based on battery consumption. However, the Web app is required to consider device resources and document as such.
Mobile Web Sites
Mobile sites are designed specifically for displaying on a small viewing area. Therefore, there is little if any interaction with the user other than changing what is displayed based on the content of the Web site.
Testing efforts on mobile Web sites include whether it is pleasing to the viewer, easy for the viewer to access considering browser compatibility, secure to view on a user’s device, and performs as expected. Do the images and text display in favorable color and size? Does the content display well on a smaller screen? Does the mobile site load in a reasonable amount of time? Can it load despite heavy traffic either to the Web site or mobile carriers?
Common tests are applied to mobile testing projects and each environment provides specific tests to each. Remember to differentiate which type of mobile testing is the subject at hand and avoid ambiguity. Each mobile project type has a distinct perspective and requires the tester to plan accordingly. SW
Jean Ann Harrison has been in the Software Testing field for over 14 years including eight years working with testing mobile software on various devices including medical devices, city police ticket generators, phones, tablets, and various other proprietary devices.
Feb2014, Software Magazine