Keeping pace

Why every millisecond counts when code testing mobile apps

Alex Drag
mobile apps
© Shutterstock / gd_project

Growth in the global mobile app market is growing at an annual rate of over 18% and is driven by e-commerce, gaming, and IoT. However, according to a report, the percentage of organizations that struggle to keep pace with mobile app testing requirements is increasing.

Whether a company is creating mobile applications for e-commerce, customer service or launching mobile apps internally to boost employee productivity, the rapid development and effective deployment of mobile apps has become a business imperative.

The global mobile application market was estimated at $106 billion in 2018 and is expected to hit $407 billion by 2026, an annual growth rate of 18.4%, according to Valuates Reports. Growth is being driven by e-commerce, gaming, and IoT. “The advantage of having a mobile application, even for a small business, is that it improves brand recognition and offers a whole new level of e-commerce user experience, helps create customer loyalty, gathers feedback and helps stand out from the crowd,” the report adds.

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Unfortunately, mobile application users are a tough crowd with zero tolerance for bugs or user interface (UI) issues. In fact, one-fourth of end users abandon mobile apps after their initial experience. In this highly competitive environment, the ability to effectively test mobile apps prior to launch is critical, but many organizations face challenges when it comes to creating a test environment.

“Test environments and test data are the most cited challenges for core enterprise applications, as well as more fluid applications developed in short cycles, often deployed on smartphones, tablets or a web browser,” according to a recent Capgemini World Quality Report.

The percentage of organizations that struggle to keep pace with mobile app testing requirements is increasing, according to the report. Respondents indicated that they faced a slew of issues including not having the right processes, methods or tools to test mobile applications, not having inhouse mobile testing experts, not having an in-house testing environment, or not having enough physical devices.

As a result, many organizations are moving to cloud-based application testing platforms that offer a way for developers to avoid the testing bottleneck that threatens to slow the deployment of mobile apps. The Covid-19 pandemic has created another driver for adoption of cloud-based testing platforms, since mobile application testers are no longer in the office, where they previously had access to and could share an inventory of mobile devices.

The big shift in the world of application development toward agile development methods and continuous deployment is putting intense pressure on developers to create new apps in weeks or even days, while at the same time keeping quality at a high level.

Unlike traditional apps, mobile applications need to be tested on dozens, even hundreds of devices in order to make sure that end users can run the app no matter what type of mobile device they’re using. For example, in a BYOD scenario, each employee might be using between 3-5 devices and that number is expected to increase as wearables and IoT become mainstream. Imagine the pushback against the development team that would occur if the company launched a BYOD app that didn’t run properly on the CEO’s smartphone.

Cloud-based application testing platforms are gaining in popularity because they enable developers to manually test applications on an unlimited number of mobile devices, without having to go out and purchase them. And with the proliferation of mobile devices, developers need to test on more than 350 devices just to cover 90% of the market.

However, it’s critically important that the testing platform performs screen rendering in the tester’s browser without lag or latency. For one thing, if there’s a lag, the tester might tap on the wrong element, causing frustration.

Beyond that, in a large organization you could have 100 testers working round the clock to validate an application that needs to ship. A slowdown of even a few milliseconds per screen rendering could cost the company thousands of dollars a day in lost productivity. That’s why every millisecond matters.

While selecting a mobile app testing vendor that can deliver a cloud-based testing platform without lag or delay is critical, there are other factors to consider as well.

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Some solutions use emulators or simulators, but nothing can replace the real thing, so look for a vendor who offers the ability to perform testing on a real physical device. Since most organizations operate in a hybrid world, look for a vendor that gives customers the flexibility to combine both cloud-based and on-premises testing.

Automation is also a major factor in vendor selection. According to one survey of more than 350 mobile developers and software testers, 55% said automation would improve software quality, but 76% are automating fewer than half of all software tests.

Look for a vendor with the capability to take an initial manual test and automatically create scripts for all of the devices under test, without requiring that the developers write any new code. Test automation scripts can be created and executed orders of magnitude faster than manual efforts, which enables businesses to get to market faster with better quality mobile apps.

mobile apps

Alex Drag

Alex Drag is the Head of Product Marketing at Kobiton.

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